July 31, 2002, 12:00 AM

Better execution is leading to higher online sales

More targeted marketing and a more sophisticated understanding of e-retailing are contributing to the boom this year in online sales, analysts tell Internet Retailer.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

More targeted marketing and online merchants’ more sophisticated understanding of e-retailing are contributing to the boom this year in online sales, retailers and analysts tell Internet Retailer.

The boom is partly the result of e-retailers getting smarter about targeting their marketing through affiliate networks and e-mail campaigns and making sure that their catalogs display the URL on every page, analysts say. For instance, Hanover Direct Inc. maintains up to 20,000 affiliate relationships with as many as 30,000 links and places the URL for its multiple brands on every page of the 240 million catalogs it mails each year, marketing manager Jonathan Kapplow says. Hanover Direct markets under the Domestications, Company Store, Silhouettes, International Male, Undergear, Clearance World and Gump’s brands.

In addition, web sites are adopting the real-world processes that consumers are familiar with--such as merchandising displays, real-time inventory reporting and live chat for customer assistance--as a way to increase shoppers’ comfort level. At the same time, they are leveraging what’s unique about the web to boost sales, such as the ability to search by catalog number or one-step checkout that stores a customer’s name, address and payment information. “There is really a focus on better execution,” says Jim Okamura, a partner in the J.C. Williams retail consulting firm. “A lot of what was being done last year is paying off this year.”

ComScore Networks Inc. says online buying grew 29% in the first half of this year vs. the first half of last year, reaching $19.8 billion. BizRate.com Inc. says it grew 45.8%, reaching $23.52 billion.

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