March 19, 2008, 12:00 AM

Etronics sparks conversions by letting other retailers sell on its site

Since opening up its merchandising pages to other retailers and adding an alternative payment method late last year, consumer electronics retailer Etronics.com has boosted conversion rates while decreasing abandonment rates, the retailer says.

Since opening up its merchandising pages to other retailers and adding an alternative payment method late last year, consumer electronics retailer Etronics.com has boosted visitor-to-sales conversion rates while decreasing site abandonment rates, the retailer says.

Etronics, No. 72 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, launched a redesigned site last fall. Among its new features is a comparison shopping feature that shows offers from other retailers.

“I love it,” says Mayer Balser, co-founder and chief operating officer of Etronics Inc. “We make extra revenue, and if customers choose to buy from another retailer, at least we get them before they leave our site to go shopping elsewhere.”

The comparison shopping feature, which went live in mid-December, coincided with a year-over-year increase in conversion rates in February and a decrease in site abandonment rates, Balser says.

Etronics uses content from comparison shopping engine Shopping.com, which shares the referral fee with Etronics when a shopper on Etronics.com chooses to buy from another retailer through the comparison feature. The Etronics I.T. staff used the Shopping.com application programming interface to integrate Etronics.com with the Shopping.com database.

A shopper on Etronics.com who clicks on the Canon PSC-65 compact camera case, for example, can click on the link “Also available from these merchants” to view offers from Crutchfield.com, Boomj.com and Onecall.com. When the shopper closes the checkout page on one of these other retailers, she returns to the last page she had shopped on Etronics.com.

The improvements in conversion and abandonment rates on Etronics.com have also coincided with the introduction of the eBillme alternative payment system, which replaced an earlier in-house application for accepting check payments, Balser says.

The interest of many customers in paying without credit cards had led Etronics to develop its own web form a few years ago for accepting check payments. A customer simply chose check payment as an option in the checkout process, then received an order number and a postal address to mail a check. Etronics would ship orders after checks were received and cleared. But the system became more trouble than it was worth because of paper-handling chores and the tendency of shoppers to call asking about their order before the check had cleared, Balser says.

The eBillme service from ModaSolutions offers shoppers the checking payment option without having to deal with paper or elongated settlement periods, Balser says. EBillme, which guarantees payment to the retailer, e-mails purchasers a bill with a note to pay through their personal bank bill-pay systems. “EBillme lets me get more of that consumer market,” he says.

Etronics also offers Google Checkout and PayPal as payment alternatives. As other retailers have learned, promotions tied to these services as well as consumer interest in non-card payments have helped to drive business. Promotions such as free shipping, $25 rebates and free boxes of chocolates from 1-800-Flowers.com have won over customers to the alternative payments, Balser says.

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