July 7, 2011, 10:25 AM

Fly fishing retailer hooks higher conversions

AvidMax Outfitters lures higher-converting shoppers with a payment security seal.

Lead Photo

After a rough start several years ago in online retailing, Neal Davidson is finding that shoppers’ increased confidence  in his retail site’s payment security is leading to more sales at his retail site, AvidMaxOutfitters.com.

Since deploying a McAfee Secure security logo, which appears at the top of each page on his e-commerce site, Davidson has seen a boost of more than 9% in his visitor-to-sales conversion rate, contributing to a double-digit percentage increase in sales so far this year, he says.

“Security issues are hard to work with,” Davidson says. “If any link on our site is not secure, it shows an SSL error page and can cause shoppers to stop from checking out.” SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, a common security technology used to encrypt and secure data transmitted over the Internet.

Under the McAfee Secure program, McAfee Inc. constantly tests a web site to ensure that it is secured from hackers and malicious software that might steal customer data such as names, passwords and payment card account numbers. By displaying the McAfee Secure logo on a web site, McAfee informs site visitors that the site meets guidelines set by the payment card industry for online data security.

Davidson adds that, even in rare cases where his site temporarily shows an error page informing visitors the site may not be secure, A/B tests have shown that the appearance of the McAfee logo—which is a persistent image on the banner that appears on every page of AvidMaxOutfitters.com and its sister site, SellNSend.com—helps to convince shoppers that the site is secure enough to make an online purchase.

Davidson says other site improvements are also contributing to improved sales performance. Those include customer reviews of the retailer’s customer service as displayed by ResellingRatings.com, customer reviews of products displayed by PowerReviews, ratings of customer service by StellaService, and, most recently, the deployment of a live chat feature from Bold Software

For Davidson, the recent growth at AvidMax Outfitters is a welcome turn following a rugged start in retailing. Initially founded as SellNSend (a brand that Davidson now operates as a separate web site with a similar product line), his company began as an eBay drop-off service that photographed, wrote descriptions of, and listed on eBay.com used products from consumers. “It didn’t work,” Davidson recalls, noting it took a long time to write effective product descriptions of hard-to-sell “junk” submitted by clients.

Instead, Davidson and a partner began selling their own products, starting with camera bags, on eBay. Working with ChannelAdvisor Corp., they soon realized they could also sell through Amazon.com, comparison shopping site PriceGrabber.com and other online venues. They then also began selling on their own retail site on an e-commerce platform provided by ChannelAdvisor. Meanwhile they’ve expanded their product line to a point where they’ve become outfitters catering mostly to fly fishing aficionados and outdoor photographers.

With plans to continue extending sales volume and product lines and develop a version of his sites optimized for mobile devices, Davidson says that displaying the McAfee and other logos helps to make the relatively new site appear more credible to new visitors.

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