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Thursday, Sep. 6, 2007 at 9:06 am

Top 10 Online Retailers by Conversion Rate 7/2007

By Bryan Eisenberg
September 6th, 2007

I’m hoping this list helps you raise your expectations and goals:

ProFlowers – 31.7%
LaneBryant Catalog – 17.6%
Office Depot – 14.6%
Coldwater Creek – 14.3%
L.L. Bean – 13.3%
Eastbay – 13.2%
Lillian Vernon – 13.1%
Blair.com – 13.1%
Amazon – 12.5%
QVC – 12.3%

Source: Nielsen/NetRatings

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Comments (22)

  1. It would be interesting to hear what the number one contributor has been:

    * Highly targeted advertising

    or

    * A well-functioning website

    Or both.

    Also, what exactly does their formula look like?

  2. Can’t help but ask if FutureNow is working with any of these fine establishments on conversion?

  3. I would also be curious, how much marketing, PPC and other advertisement money it costs to get these types of conversion numbers. I am sure they have tested more and some have powerful name branding and great sites.

    But:

    At some point (for some companies) throwing money like in PPC, may not be actually making money for the company.

  4. Impressive numbers but I can’t help but wonder what an apples to apples comparison would look like? Proflowers vs Amazon does not seem like a level playing field. Buyers for flowers have a different buying behavior than those buying other types of retail items. Things like comparison price shopping do not come into play as much with a $40.00 boquet. Proflowers unquestionably has a great site but how would it compare (conversion wise) to 1 800 flowers or other online “flower retailers”.

  5. Audio Bible: PPC/advertising spend and conversion are most often two separate issues. Advertising tends to drive more traffic to the site, but it says nothing of what is done to convert and retain customers on the actual site once they get there.

    Larry: You’re right that this isn’t apples-to-apples in some ways. In fact, I’d argue it’s difficult to do an apples-to-apples with most businesses–unless they’re in the same niche (and even then, they may have different business models). I think you’d enjoy the comments in this post from a few months ago.

  6. Thanks Robert – as always great information.

  7. links for 2007-09-07…

    Alison Driscoll » Is all marketing sexist? If it shocks you to learn that ads objectifying women generally offend them, you shouldn’t be in advertising. Read this article anyway. (tags: sexism marketing) Cool Video on the Future of Advertising Of co…

  8. [...] Top 10 Online Retailers by Conversion Rate 7/2007 (Grokdot.com)ProFlowers – 31.7% LaneBryant Catalog – 17.6% Office Depot – 14.6% Coldwater Creek – 14.3% L.L. Bean [...]

  9. Top Online Retail Conversion Rates as High as 31% – See the List…

    2% used to be the average conversion rate. These numbers should raise everyone’s goals. Most of these companies have affiliate programs, so may give you ideas for merchants to add to your Holiday line-up.

    ……

  10. The more I look at this list, I’m thinking…. all or almost all of these guys have catalogs, stores, direct mailings, TV networks, print ads, etc. I can’t help by think that its not the web alone converting customers at these rate.

  11. @Mitchell: That’s actually a really good point. When someone has been flipping through the Eastbay mailer and has already has found, and seen the pricing for the pair of b-ball shoes he wants that’s a pretty easy customer to convert on the web.

    In that sense it would be really interesting to see the conversion rates for the each site by different visitor channels (e.g., paid search, offline catalog, bookmarks). It probably isn’t possible to get…at least publicly, but it would be quite telling.

  12. Mitchell,

    That is a valid point. I don’t think you can say just because retailer X has a catalog they have a high conversion rate. There are TONS of other catalogers who don’t have conversion rates that are impressive in any way. The fact is that many of these sites are doing some very interesting things.

  13. I’m curious as well to Ryan’s point about different channels. Not to take away anything from these retailers who are clearly doing much right, but it would be interesting to see how the conversion rates for PPC, organic, and direct (type-in or bookmarked) differ from these site-wide conversion rates.

    My guess would be if direct channel conversion rates were comparable to the site-wide averages, but PPC or organic channels vary lower by a significant amount, then catalog, print, tv, and other offline marketing (maybe just brand-name strength) are playing a role. Great branding and loyal customers typically found in the direct channel should be converting at a higher rate (though of course some “direct” traffic comes through organic SERPs when shoppers type in a full/partial domain in a search engine). If the different channels are converting at close to the same rate, then the inbound traffic would seem to be equally qualified (pre-disposed to purchase).

    Paul

  14. Let’s not forget email. I’m not sure about some of these sites, but ProFlowers has great email follow-up (except for that time they misread Andy Sernovitz).

  15. I am new to the affiliate world, just wondering what the average conversion rate is? Also, understand the other marketing channels, such as catalogs, web, email and TV with QVC, just wondering how HSN compare?

  16. According to Shop.org the average conversion rate for retailers is 2.4%. I don’t know the conversion rate for QVC but I know that HSN has a conversion rate in the double digits.

  17. It does take more than having a printed catalog to supplement a website, but when I worked at a leading catalog and print media retailer, we figured out that so many of our customers found the website easier to use than calling in (less unwanted upsells, etc.). Basically those people had already converted before they even hit the website, so the website was not always converting on only its own merits.

    Despite our best efforts to track these customers with custom urls, keycodes/source codes, etc. we still could not track them all, so the company’s founding fathers decided to divvy up some of those “no code” conversions among the other channels.

    I wonder if other companies do likewise?

    Its hard to get customers to enter those silly codes everytime unless you tie the entire value promotion to the correct code entry (then you lose some sales, we found!).

  18. I’m way late on this one but when I worked for a cataloger the conversion rates on new prospecting efforts were held up artificially by repeat customers and old mailings. Once we started segmenting the new from old efforts we lost sales (to your point Mitchell – requiring extra information up front) and the marketing dept became despondent over our sales ineptitude. (I was in the sales department) Lucky for us a new shiny object appeared in the executive managment’s line of sight and we started attending personal responsibility seminars leaving conversion rates behind.

  19. [...] these results with those from September and July. Technorati Tags: conversion rates, Ecommerce, Nielsen, Nielsen/NetRatings, [...]

  20. I hate to be one of those “I just wrote a post…” guys, but I just wrote a post on why I think the “average” 2-3% conversion is overblown. These are impressive numbers, but even if everyone measured them the same way (which we don’t know), the retailers have some advantages: they’re well known brands, their visitors know exactly what to expect, their visitors know what they want, and the price-point is often low (so, no comparison shopping).

    That’s not to say that they aren’t doing usability right, as the numbers are outstanding, but there are plenty of e-retailers who could do everything right and still not hit 3%, just due to the nature of their market. All of this conversion envy isn’t really helping any of us, IMO.

  21. Pete,

    We’ll have to agree to disagree. I have personally been optimizing the conversion rates on websites for over 10 years now and “well known brands” are not the condition for success. In fact their are many well known brands that are no where near the top of this list. We can argue that many on this list benefit from their catalogs, but there are tens of thousands of catalogs, not all of them made this list.

    I do agree with you that there are many retailers who will never have a better conversion rate than 3%. What all of the listed retailers in this list understand is the optimization hierarchy. They all have products people really want and understand easily. In fact I would argue that several on this list have less than average “usable” websites. What they grok is that persuasiveness trumps usability time and time again.

    What retailers must aim for is a better understanding why their conversion rate numbers aren’t 10% or above. Maybe they don’t understand their audience or how they want to buy their products.

  22. Bryan: you make a good point, and I didn’t mean to overstate the brand factor. These sites are clearly doing something right, but reaching 30% conversion requires something akin to harmonic convergence, and a strong brand can’t hurt. On the other hand, as you said, plenty of websites manage to squander a strong brand and consumer confidence with lousy design and usability.

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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