[Erratum: The following report on the top-converting sites for January 2007 has been corrected, as it mistakenly references a previous year's data. It seems a fellow blogger cited outdated numbers and we overlooked the error during fact check. Bryan stands by his analysis, however, as it was not intended to be time sensitive per se.]
Here it is, the list of January’s top 10 converting retail sites:
1. Proflowers.com – 14.1%
2. Coldwater Creek – 13.3%
3. FTD.com – 13.0%
4. QVC – 12.8%
5. Office Depot – 12.4%
6. eBay – 11.5%
7. Lands’ End – 11.5%
8. Tickets.com – 11.2%
9. 1800flowers.com – 10.0%
10. Amazon – 9.6%
[Source: Nielsen Online / Marketing Charts]
Only four of these companies were on December’s list:
(4) Amazon – 17.60%
(6) Lands End – 17.20%
(7) QVC – 17.10%
(8) Coldwater Creek – 17.10%
A big retail SIGH! If only people’s buying habits stayed consistent all year long, to be like they are in December.
My friend Craig provides an interesting analysis of this month’s numbers. He’s right on the money when he says:
There are many things most sites can do to dramatically improve conversion rates. There are also much smarter ways to measure and consider conversion rates than the overall site average. While that may be an interesting for conference-room conversation, it’s a lot more important to break down conversion rates by method-of-contact (email vs organic vs display vs PPC), based on the place in their buying cycle where visitors engage with you, or based on user intent as evidenced in their actions/expressions.
But then he tries to explain, then excuse, why small retailers supposedly can’t have a 10% conversion rate:
The message it seems is that if you need to deliver an overall conversion rate of 10% or greater, you need 30M registered users who buy from you 3-5 times per year, a 24-hour television channel, a pattern of inflicting back pain on innocent mailmen 3-4 times each year, or to sell products which are purchased as a result of some ages-old game of emotional blackmail.
Craig’s as smart as they come, but while offering an insightful analysis, he doesn’t nail the primary reasons. Then again, he hasn’t been focused exclusively on conversion for almost a decade, so allow me to shed some light: The number one reason the “average” small retailer hasn’t achieved a conversion over 10% is because they haven’t worked hard enough to deserve it.
Have you? If you’ve been working at it, and still can’t seem to figure out what to do to make a difference in your bottom line, see how an OnTarget subscription can help you improve your website, impact your conversion rate, and generate more sales.
Oops! Have I tossed a turd in the punch bowl? (Don’t be offended, please continue reading.)
Several of the websites on this month’s list have been clients of ours and most of the others have staffs that I’ve known professionally for many years. What most of them have in common is they work harder consistently, year after year, at continuously improving their websites for customers than you (the average) do. Their results demonstrate it.
Let’s examine more carefully at some of the points Craig makes since, in one form or another, they are often repeated excuses that pass for the conventional wisdom about conversion rate optimization.
It isn’t just having a catalog that gives you a high converting website. If it did, L.L. Bean that was on the list in December with a healthy 23.60% would show up the rest of the year. Lands End, however, has been on it in December, November, and September. Where are all the other thousands of catalogers? Why aren’t they making the list? A strong catalog brand can be a factor, but it isn’t always the primary driver of website conversion.
I love it when Craig says, “QVC. What’s their conversion rate for TV viewers? Their website is functionally a cart, so it could be argued that they’ve got 86.2% cart abandonment.” Absolutely.
However, why doesn’t HSN (Home Shopping Network) or the other large DRTV advertisers show up consistently on the top converting list? While it’s true that many of these shoppers come pre-sold from watching the show hosts sell them the product, they aren’t arriving to the website in a hypnotic trance with credit cards in hand ready to click on that final order confirmation button.
Craig refers to OfficeDepot.com as having “many no-point-in-comparing products and I assume lots of business orders from people who have accounts and replenish online frequently.” So do Staples, OfficeMax, Quill, FreshDirect and many others. Why don’t they show up on the list? Again, while this might contribute to conversions it doesn’t guarantee a top converting website.
Craig’s right. Comparing eBay and Amazon to almost anyone today isn’t fair. Part of what helped these companies to become who they are is their commitment to the customer experience. They each had significant competitors but Amazon and eBay just kept pushing the bar higher. In the offline world, there are very few companies that could touch the retail influence of WalMart. Why doesn’t WalMart.com make the the top converting website list regularly?
Wal-Mart’s absence is simple enough to explain. Until recently, Wal-Mart hasn’t worked as hard online as they should have. Wal-Mart has been successful but, like other online retailers, sales volume online often covers up for all those customers that would have converted but didn’t.
Do you have a road map to improve your conversion rate from where you are at today, then one to exceed that tomorrow, and then again after that?
FutureNow can help. I invite you to email or call us: 877-643-7244.