June 9, 2005, 12:00 AM

Latest ranking of e-merchants released at Internet Retailer 2005 Conference

With sales of $51.5 billion in 2004, the Top 400 online retailers represent 58% of all online sales, Kurt Peters, editor of Internet Retailer, told attendees at the first annual Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition this week in Chicago.

With sales of $51.5 billion in 2004, the Top 400 online retailers represent 58% of all online sales, Kurt Peters, editor of Internet Retailer, told attendees at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition this week in Chicago. Internet Retailer released the updated version of its rankings of the largest web sites at the conference.

The Top 400 Guide to Retail Web Sites reports the market is further concentrated among the top 100, which account for 53.1% of the market, Peters said. By contrast, he noted, among chain retailers, the Top 100 represent 63% of all sales. “So after only 10 years, the online market is rapidly approaching the concentration level of offline,” he said. The top 400 combined get 1.1 billion visits a month and together shipped 401.5 million orders in 2004.

Peters’ remarks kicked off Day Two of Internet Retailer’s first annual conference, which attracted more than 1,100 attendees to the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago. The conference drew rave reviews from attendees about the content and from exhibitors about traffic in the exhibit hall. Many attendees said the event did not seem like a first-year conference.

The top selling categories online are Computers & Electronics retailers, which account for 28% of all online sales, mass merchants, 27%, then a steep drop-off to office supplies retailers at 12.5% and apparel and accessories retailers at 9.2%.

By background of retailer, chains/stores account for 38.9% of sales; web-only merchants, 27.2%; consumer brand manufacturers, 18.8%; and catalog/call center merchants, 15.2%.

As part of the Top 400 this year, ForeSee Results Inc. surveyed consumers who browsed the Top 40 sites, whether they bought or not, and created a web browser satisfaction index. Normally ForeSee Results measures customer satisfaction, but in this case it measured browser satisfaction as a way to predict sales at the sites, Larry Freed, president of ForeSee, told attendees.

The top site in browser satisfaction was Netflix, which merited a score of 85 out of 100. Next were Amazon, 84, QVC, 84, Newegg, 82, and L.L. Bean, 82. At the bottom of the list were Kmart.com at 69, Costco, 70, CompUSA, 71, and Buy.com, 71.

“Our Index looks at browsers, or those who are in the pre-purchase stages of the shopping experience,” Freed said. “Browsers include existing customers, first-time site visitors, competitors’ customers who may be cross-shopping and others spending time on a retail web site. They often shop on a variety of web sites and other channels before making a purchase. With industry-wide conversion rates at 3-5% on average, the 95–97% of browsers who do not convert into purchasers on a given visit present a great opportunity for increased revenues. By determining what drives browser satisfaction and what drives their likelihood to complete a purchase, regardless of which channel they ultimately choose and when they ultimately purchase, retailers can find the key to significant financial gains.”

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