January 17, 2008, 12:00 AM

MarketLive uses analytics data to take a deep dive into holiday results

Drawing on data from about 100 e-retailers that use Omniture’s web analytics technology, MarketLive reports that the average conversion rate went from 4.08% in the third quarter to 4.80% in the fourth quarter, with a peak holiday season rate of 6.44%.

E-commerce platform provider MarketLive Inc. has provided an unusually detailed look at rising visitor-to-sales conversion rates in online holiday shopping results, drawing on data from about 100 MarketLive clients that use Omniture’s web analytics technology.

“These numbers don’t lie, they’re not self-reported,” says Jaye Sullivan, senior e-commerce strategist at MarketLive. “They’re pulled directly from Omniture, so we can dive deeply because we have these data slices on an aggregate level.”

The data show that the visitor-to-sales conversion rate for those online merchants increased 18% from the third to fourth quarter, from 4.08% to 4.80%. During the peak of the holiday shopping season, from Nov. 23-Dec. 31, conversion rate shot up to 6.44%.

Engagement rate-which measures the percentage of visitors who put an item into a shopping cart-increased from 9.48% in the third quarter to 9.87% in the fourth quarter, and reached 11.89% during the peak shopping period.

Cart abandonment dropped from 59.11% in Q3 to 55.64% in the fourth quarter, and to 54.73% during the prime shopping season.

Other fourth quarter statistics from the e-retailers studied include:

  • Average order size was $134.99 and revenue per visit was $5.85, with revenue per visit up almost 50% from December 2006
  • 33.86% of visitors left after viewing one page
  • Average pages viewed per visit was 12.43, and time per visit 7.56 minutes
  • 29.86% of visitors came from search engines, 30.94% from bookmarks or by typing in the retailer’s URL and 39.67% from other sources.

E-retailers that made shopping convenient and catered to last-minute buyers were particularly successful, says Sullivan, who interviewed several of the retailers covered by the report. She says the merchants report strong consumer response when they lowered the thresholds for free shipping, or eliminated them altogether.

Tapping into the desire for convenience, one online retailer targeted befuddled husbands by offering prewrapped gift sets, such as an entire outfit. Each set was categorized by the woman’s personality type-one ensemble for the “yoga mom,” for instance, and another for the “active mom.” Those kits sold out within the first few weeks of the holiday season, says Sullivan, who would not name the retailer.

More retailers this season also offered clear guidance to customers as to when they had to place an order for it to arrive by the gift-giving day. Such advisories often appeared on the home page and product pages as well as on customer service pages. “All along the purchase path, merchants stepped up to make sure customers would be aware when they need to purchase to get their product on time,” Sullivan says.

MarketLive plans to issue a fuller report on the holiday shopping data in mid-February.

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