May 30, 2008, 12:00 AM

Ongoing new feature rollouts send FootSmart.com’s sales racing

FootSmart.com’s sales rose 46% year-over-year in the first quarter to about $21 million, following a series of enhancements including behavioral target marketing, customer reviews and alternative payment options.

Internet Retailer

Efforts to step up web site functionally and merchandising activity on Benchmark Brand’s FootSmart.com are paying off. FootSmart’s sales rose 46% in the first quarter to about $21 million from $14.4 million a year ago, following a series of enhancements to the site that include behavioral target marketing, customer reviews and alternative payment options.

The company is working with Dotomi Inc., a behavioral targeting applications vendor, to find the reason why shoppers leave FootSmart.com before making a purchase. The goal: to find ways to bring them back. The application lets Benchmark build customer profiles by combining customers’ past shopping behavior with personal and other demographic information. Benchmark uses the profiles to engage shoppers with a live message exchange once they are shopping online.

With behavioral tracking, FootSmart can track shoppers to the other web sites they visit, as well as the products they research and buy. Serving up the right targeted ad based on a shopper’s behavior may get the shopper to return, FootSmart is finding.

“If they leave our site and go to CNN.com to read the news, we can serve them an ad that may entice them back to our site,” says CEO Alan Beychok. “We can also use their behavior to create custom e-mail campaigns and profiles that target the items returning shoppers want.”

Behavioral targeting helped increase FootSmart’s conversion rate by 15% over the past year, Beychok says.

Also contributing to FootSmart’s first quarter results is the recent addition of new payment options for customers. With shoppers now able to pay for purchases using PayPal, Google Checkout and Bill Me Later as well as with traditional credit cards, alternative payments now account for about 12% of all transactions, FootSmart reports.

Filling out the list of the site changes and marketing efforts that are helping to drive sales are customer reviews. In March, the company added reviews technology from vendor Bazaarvoice Inc. and gathered 1,000 reviews within a month of implementation. FootSmart is preparing to roll out more advances, with the planned launch in June of a refined site search feature developed by vendor Celebros that will update the site’s taxonomy and product database as well as add more guided navigation.

“When the new search feature is up and running, shoppers can ask more detailed questions about the types of foot arches they want, how they will use the arch and the desired size,” Beychok says.

The ongoing addition of features and functions helped grow the brand’s web sales overall by 36% to $51.6 million in 2007, and Beychok says the same strategy should help sales continue to grow in 2008 despite a soft economy. “We’re pretty aggressive with always redeveloping our web site,” he says. “By focusing on improving the customer experience and sticking with our niche we will grow even faster this year.”

mary@verticalwebmedia.com

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