Category Archives: Stats and Resources

Top 10 Retail Websites by Conversion (Dec. 2007)

Visiting MarketingCharts.com to find data on one specific area can be as deadly as opening a bag of Ruffles with the intention of just eating one chip: before you know it, it’s an hour later and the whole bag is empty.

In my most recent visit to the buffet, I came across their chart for the Top 10 Online Retailers by Conversion Rate. Conversion is what it’s all about, which makes this list extra special. Here is the list of companies, with my admittedly first glance reaction to why and how they made the list.

  1. The Popcorn Factory: They’ve done a great job of making popcorn a popular gift (especially if it’s sugary or cheesy), and it’s become a favorite corporate gift (just think of how many tubs of popcorn you see around the office come Christmas-time). Plus, just based on their current site, they have clear and urgent calls to action.
  2. L.L. Bean: The crowning jewel of catalog marketing, it’s apparently translated well into online sales. No doubt that a majority of the shopping is still done via printed catalog, and orders are then placed online, which might explain for the high conversion.
  3. Abebooks: I must admit that abebooks.com has been virgin territory for me until this chart prompted me to check it out. It seems to be a great site for buying and selling books, with its M.O. being that you get access to what 13,500 booksellers are peddling – Abebooks just handles the order. It appears that the cash cow for them is textbook selling, as their traffic and obviously conversion rise and fall with the beginning and ends of semesters.
  4. Hollister Co.: This is what you might call the Abercrombie of the web. Surfer clothes and hip jeans abound on this college-targeted site.
  5. Amazon.com: Hey, it’s Amazon. What more do you have to say?
  6. Land’s End: I like this site’s design. Clean and clear, people know what they’re going to Land’s End for. Again, another direct/catalog-driven business model.
  7. Coldwater Creek: Clothing for women, which is code for I really have no authority to even attempt a description. Except they, too, appear to be catalog driven.
  8. QVC: The darling of the home shopping world, QVC sells anything, but they appear to thrive in fashion, beauty and clothing. Their business model drives sales via 6-minute infomercials all day long, driving people to the phones and to the web. Through some of my own experiences with them, their minimum goal is for each segment to drive $50k in sales. Now that starts adding up.
  9. Cabela’s: The world’s foremost outfitter is also one of the foremost drivers in website conversions. Originally driven by one store in Colorado (or was it Nebraska . . . ) and catalogs, they’ve expanded their retail outlets and are going head to head with Bass Pro Shops. Their traffic charts show a huge spike in December, translating into it becoming a new no-brainer gift haven for Dad come Christmas, as well as the online favorite over Bass Pro.
  10. Gymboree: I’m not sure exactly how they drive traffic, but my guess is via gift registry for new babies. The web has definitely made “shower-shopping” a much more pleasant event.

A few overall observations:

  • Looking at the types of companies in the top 10, I don’t think there’s any question that communication tools outside of the web such as catalogs and TV shows are making web sales easier. Which makes sense, considering that these people are visiting your site with the purpose to purchase, not to shop. The catalog has already convinced them of what they need, so now they prefer the simplicity of the web to seal the deal.
  • Knowing that visitors are coming to the site with a clear purpose in mind (e.g., “I want that dang fishing pole”), the up-sell/cross-sell potential on these site must be huge . . . if it can be made seamless.
  • Traffic varies on these sites, from the Popcorn Factory logging in just over 50k visitors in December, to Amazon racking up more than 60 million. At a 17.6% conversion rate, that means Amazon got a minimum of 10.5 million orders in December alone!

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