Case Study

Sweetwater’s Key to Success: Experimentation and Site Optimization

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Sheet Music

Fort Wayne, IN

About Sweetwater

Sweetwater is one of North America’s largest music retailers, selling instruments, gear, and recording software. Customer service is their primary goal, with dedicated sales engineers and unique site features to help buyers find exactly what they’re looking for. Though their brick-and-mortar location in Indiana has the largest music inventory in the US, the majority of Sweetwater’s business happens online. So, they approach their ecommerce organization with a technology-first strategy, with a large team of developers and by building most of their digital stack in-house. However, one of the few third-party tools they use is SiteSpect for digital optimization. Because of Sweetwater’s customer centric business model, executing experimentation and continuous site optimization with SiteSpect, without any negative performance impact, is key to their success. As Matthew Sutherland, Manager of Digital Optimization at Sweetwater said, “SiteSpect was the only tool I saw that I was comfortable enough to use because of its lack of flicker.”

Increasing Awareness of a Unique Site Feature

One of Sweetwater’s unique features is their Guitar Gallery. Guitars are a high value item, and customers typically spend a lot of time and thought on choosing the right one — and this can come down to even minor differences between guitars of the same model. Sweetwater photographs every individual guitar in their inventory, allowing customers to compare individual serialized guitars so that they can choose the exact one they want to buy. Sweetwater is the only store that offers this online experience, yet user research, quantitative data, and customer feedback showed the tool wasn’t as obvious as it could be. This test aimed to increase awareness and engagement with this tool. The original version displayed the Guitar Gallery as a small sidebar on the product detail page.

Sweetwater Screenshot of product page showing guitar.

The test variation introduced a large banner above the item image on the product detail page, as well as a smaller sidebar with the details of the selected item.

Sweetwater product page displaying guitars.


The primary goal of this test was to increase engagement, as measured by views of individual serialized guitars. Unique views of serialized guitar product detail pages increased by 118%. Average order value increased by 5.72% and purchases containing a guitar increased 6.64%. Most importantly to Sweetwater, they received an outpouring of positive customer comments on the feature.

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