September 5, 2007, 12:00 AM

Average session times grow for most big retailers

Online visitors and shoppers are staying slightly longer at nine of the 15 largest retail sites, according to new data from Hitwise Inc. QVC.com posted the biggest increase in average session time while Dell.com recorded the largest drop.

Bill Briggs

Senior Editor

Visitors and shoppers are sticking around longer at nine of the 15 largest retail sites, according to new data from Hitwise Inc.

A comparison of the amount of time shoppers spent on the biggest retail web sites shows that the average rose to 9 minutes and 31 seconds in June from 9 minutes and 10 seconds a year earlier.

The numbers show that visitors and shoppers spent more time on Amazon.com, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, HPShopping.com, Sears.com, CDW.com, SonyStyle.com, Walmart.com, QVC.com and Apple.com. At the same time, visitors also spent fewer minutes on Staples.com, Dell.com, OfficeMax.com, Newegg.com, BestBuy.com and JCPenney.com.

QVC.com posted the biggest increase in session time while Dell.com recorded the largest drop. In June shoppers at QVC.com stayed an average of 15 minutes and 32 seconds, up from 12 minutes and 42 seconds from a year earlier. At Dell.com the average session length dropped to 9 minutes and 46 seconds in June of 2007 from 10 minutes and 30 seconds in June of 2006.

Even though shoppers spent less time on some retail sites, it’s not necessarily an indication that retailers aren’t doing the right things to attract and retain traffic, says Hitwise general manager of global research Bill Tancer. “Longer average session lengths indicate that the retailer is drawing shoppers deeper into the site and generating a better experience, but session length can also be a difficult metric to interpret,” he says. “On some sites shorter session lengths show that the merchant is doing a good job of helping customers find what they want and complete a purchase in the least amount of time.”

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