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Friday, Apr. 25, 2008 at 4:04 pm

Top 10 Online Retailers by Conversion Rate: March 2008

By Robert Gorell
April 25th, 2008

top conversion ratesHere they are, the top 10 converting retail sites for March 2008*…

1. Office Depot – 20.9%
2. QVC – 19.0%
3. Vistaprint – 18.3%
4. Roamans – 18.1%
5. Lands End – 16.2%
6. eBay – 15.7%
7. – 15.5%
8. – 15.3%
9. L.L. Bean – 14.6%
10. Pottery Barn Kids – 14.2%

Last month, when Snapfish and Vistaprint found their way to February’s list (at the #1 and #2 spots respectively), Bryan wondered whether they were being tracked for the first time or if they had done something specific to move the needle. Although Vistaprint has slipped to #3 on this month’s list, their conversion rate has actually gone up. Snapfish, meanwhile, has dropped off entirely.

We also noticed on February’s list that LL Bean had dropped from the 23.6% conversion rate they had in January and December to the 14.7% conversion rate they achieved in February. This month, it seems LL Bean has held, but their position has slipped thanks to a higher overall average from the other sites.

Who do you think will make it to next month’s list?

. .

*Source: Nielsen Online / Marketing Charts

Editor’s Note: Want to know the secrets of top-converting websites? Join Bryan Eisenberg on June 3rd in Manhattan for FutureNow’s Call to Action seminar.

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Comments (22)

  1. Is this data from adwords/other cpc programs?

    If not?

    Does this mean that every 5th visitor on their site was converted! Each fifth visitor resulting in sale is awesome.

    What if the 50% are repeat visitors!

    These are real master.

  2. Hey guys. Is this the data from your clients or across the web. I guess it must be from your client list as you’ve got pretty exact numbers – but just wanted to check before I cite you as a source in a post.

  3. Michael,

    Although we have worked with a few companies that have made the list at various times, this list actually comes from Nielsen Online via Marketing Charts. I’m not exactly sure how they get these figures, but I would think that it must be self-reported. [Edit: See comment #6 for details.]

    That said, these companies are all welcome to contact FutureNow. Even at 21%, there’s room for improvement.

  4. These numbers should not be published without a legend of how they are derived.

    At my company we have a VERY aggressive customer acquisition program and we send a lot of new traffic in, so 95% of people coming to the site are coming for the first time. Because of that our conversion rate ‘all in’ is about 2.6%.

    Shut off the fire hose, and it’s a much prettier picture.

    Our type-in conversion rate is more like 16%, in other words anyone coming to our site who knows who we are and are coming in for a specific reason.

    Thus if we were ‘Office Depot’ where most people know the brand and are coming for either a repeat purchase, or are already buying at one of the stores, or via their catalog, conversion rates of 20% are possible.

    If you take any unknow ecommerce company off the street that is sending in 95% of traffic from new visitors, I’d like to see what their conversion rates look like.

  5. Victor,

    Like I said in my last comment, I believe these numbers to be self-reported by the individual retailers. [Edit: see next comment.] But I agree that it would be best for everyone to know where Nielsen is coming up with these numbers, so I’ve emailed them to let them know that our readers want an answer on this issue. As soon as they right back, I’ll either comment on this thread or follow up with a brief post.

    Also, your comment about the paid search (assuming that’s what you mean by “aggressive customer acquisition program”) is spot on. Not all traffic-driving campaigns are equal. Isn’t it possible, though, that all of that non-qualified traffic your driving could be better qualified, and thus convert better? That’s something we see with clients all the time, and they notice big jumps in overall conversion once paid search campaigns are planned and segmented according to customer motivations. We use personas or customer profiles to make that happen.

    You also make a good point about brand awareness. That’s another reason why campaigns that are solely focused on driving traffic tend to convert poorly. Of course, driving revenue is much more important than driving traffic — or even boosting conversion. That’s why we all need to ask the bigger questions before assuming where, when and how to focus on traffic vis-a-vis conversion.

    Thanks so much for your comment! I’ll be in touch if and when I hear back from Nielsen.

  6. Victor,

    It seems Bryan commented about this same issue last month. According to Nielsen: “The conversion rate data is based on visitor conversion rates, not session conversion rates. So it’s the number of unique customers/number of unique visitors.”

    Apparently, they monitor over a million people who volunteer to be tracked with their toolbar, and these are the conversion rates they’re seeing for these particular retail sites.

    So, I was wrong. It’s not self-reported.

  7. I agree with the brand issue. I would like to see the conversion rates of the branded terms vs. the non-branded terms for all these retailers. I would bet that the non-branded term’s conversion rates were no where close to the numbers listed.

  8. Does anyone know why has such a good conversion?

  9. Jeff,

    There’s no question that strong brand recognition gives certain retail sites an advantage when it comes to converting visitors into customers. The truth is that small businesses have to start somewhere and, generally, it’s smarter for small businesses to focus on conversion than volume.

    Yes, it’s tough, but this is what small business is up against online. The big brands don’t have to work as hard. They can outspend the competition. They can bid on expensive keywords. They can hire the best SEO firms, the best designers, the best copywriters — and yet not enough of them do! There are plenty of big brands that could be making this list each month if they really wanted to. Some of them are fat and happy, content to be converting as well or slightly better than the average (a mere 2-3%) so long as revenues are up compared to the previous quarter or the previous year.

    Big brands have no excuse not to convert well, just as small e-commerce brands have no excuse not to try harder.

    A few months ago, Bryan analyzed the results of this list: “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.”

  10. Robert and Jeff, I think these sites can get higher conversion rates if there CRM-SE Traffic is dynamically offering the right product since we have noticed with some niche sites where one single product website can get around 69% conversion rate (actual sale process).
    Well done and thanks for the list.
    /Elias Kai

  11. Ok, I’m a small fry, but what would be useful are categories for me to compare myself against. We are a glass jewelry website and so there is always the issue that the product looks much better in person than on the web. Thst being the case our best conversion rate comes from repeat clients who know what to expect. We are very highly ranked, have been told our website is nicely organized and easy to use (thanks to the my treating “Call to Action” as my bible) and our conversion rate is more like 0.1%. So, I’d like to know is that really as pitiful as it sounds, or is that to be expected for a website selling jewelry. Yes, there are many improvements I can continue to make, but the ROI needs to be justified, so before I embark on another “site change odyssey”, I’d like to know how we stack up.



  12. Mendy, I have not looked at your website in detail. However. 0.1% conversion is way below what you could be getting. There is real work involved in fixing your site. Like with any investment it’s always easy to focus on the I since it is known and to worry that the R may not follow. Is that helpful?

  13. Jeffrey,

    I agree that I could improve my conversion rate and that the R can only come after making the I. I am willing to make further investments but not without knowing what my best case may be. By understanding the best case, I can make investments proportional to my anticipated return. So the question remains – how does our site stack up against other best-in-class art sites, craft sites and/or jewelry sites.



  14. hi
    i am a writer and offering my english teaching ebook in Turkey. All my visitors from google adwords and my conversion rate is 1 in 100. What can i do to do better. I am checking the whole internet to learn more but i will be happy if you can give me some suggestions.

  15. Hi Mendy,
    I’m in the jewelry business (spiritual jewelry).
    Our website convert around 0.35%.-0.5% I have done numeruos testing and still doing more with website optimizer and didn’t manage to find the way to make better than what we do.

    I have also another friend in similar bussiness with similar numbers.

    Hope it helps…

  16. It would be a wonderful thing if there were conversion metrics available for other types of sites.

    I have a site which converts applicants to enrolled insurance agents at a high rate; I wonder where it stands against similar competition?

  17. Great article

  18. Just be sure to stay away from the Evil Eye, having a crucifix from Holy Land may help.

  19. Someone ask me for the guides about shopping online, they want to the info of jordan shoes, I really be happy to help you. But some else like nike shoes, they said ugg brand is they favorite. At the same time many people like ugg boots much more. So I want to write some shopping guides and info about all the footwear for everybody.

  20. We’re also in the jewellery business in the UK, so very interested in hearing from peoples’ experiences with conversion rates. Any updates from those who posted above? I see your websites are still around, so how are they doing a couple of years on?

  21. we hope By understanding the best case, I can make investments proportional to my anticipated return. So the question remains – how does our site stack up against other best-in-class art sites, craft sites and/or jewelry sites.

  22. I agree with the brand issue. I would like to see the conversion rates of the branded terms vs. the non-branded terms for all these retailers. I would bet that the non-branded term’s conversion rates were no where close to the numbers listed.

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