August 10, 2004, 12:00 AM

Shoes.com buyers who arrive via paid search return products less often

At Shoes.com, customers who arrive at the site via paid search send merchandise back less often than those who reach the site by any other means. Customers with the highest rate of returns are those placing orders through the call center.

Shoppers who arrive at a site via specific keywords are shoppers who know just what they want – at least that’s the experience of Shoes.com, the e-commerce site operated by shoe manufacturer Brown Shoe Co. Mondy Beller, vice president of marketing at Shoes.com Inc., tells Internet Retailer that the site’s lowest percentage of returns comes from those shoppers who come to the site via paid search, generally landing on product pages.

“We are pretty specific in our keyword purchases,” says Beller. “Someone looking for the Cole Haan Pinch Penney loafer, for example, knows exactly what they want, and probably has worn it before.”

Shoes.com’s highest rate of returns is from shoppers who shop the site but use the phone and the call center to place their order rather than being willing to enter a credit card number online. “My guess is that the customer using the call center might be a little more risk averse; a little less used to shopping online,” says Beller. "Or perhaps they are trying a new brand they haven’t worn before. We do have a big replenishment business here.”

The largest single share of Shoes.com`s sales – almost half -- originate with various pay for performance programs that include paid search, paid inclusion, affiliate programs and shopping engines. The balance is sales that originate with shoppers who type in the URL directly, natural search, and shoppers who use the call center.

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