June 6, 2007, 12:00 AM

New e-retailer index offers clues on winning over customers

Visitor-to-sales conversion rates, though a common measurement of web site performance, overlook more useful data that can show e-retailers how to increase sales, according to a report based on a new e-retailer performance index from MarketLive.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

Visitor-to-sales conversion rates, though a common measurement of web site performance, overlook more useful data that can show e-retailers how to increase sales, according to a report based on a new e-retailer performance index from MarketLive Inc. The index is based on the web site activity of MarketLive’s customer base of nearly 200 client retailers, whose annual revenue range from $2 million to $200 million.

“Conversion rates are too ambiguous,” Ken Burke, founder of MarketLive Inc., said this week at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in San Jose, CA. Rather than just looking at conversion rates, he added, retailers should look more closely at the clickstream data and web pages that lead to conversions and page abandonment.

The new MarketLive Performance Index, he added, is designed to show how different categories of retailers perform with a broader visitor-to-cart rate, revealing the kind of pages and navigation options that result in carted products-whether or not a shopper goes on to complete a purchase. Average visitor-to-cart rates range from a low of 6.8% for housewares and furniture retailers to 18% for catalogers, he said.

The index also addresses the issue of what Burke calls “one and outs,” or cases where a site visitor leaves after hitting a single page. The average one-and-out rate in the index is 32.9%; the low, 21.9%.

Burke noted how some retailers have addressed such issues. Footwear brand Keds, for example, figured out that many of its customers like to shop by size. A new “shop by size” feature on Keds.com is the most-clicked feature on product pages, Burke said.

Apparel site Lucy.com has improved visitor-to-cart rates, Burke said, by offering navigation options that let customers shop by activity categories, including yoga, travel, run-walk and gym-training.

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