CEO Sharon Price John says Build-A-Bear’s old e-commerce system is a big reason for disappointing online sales in December.
The watch retailer cuts off affiliates that bring in overseas site visitors who never buy.
When it comes to web site traffic, quality often trumps quantity. For Dexclusive.com, less traffic has led to more sales for the online watch retailer.
Trimming traffic helped Dexclusive.com, No. 637 in the Internet Retailer Second 500 Guide, grow e-commerce sales by 82% in 2011 to nearly $13 million from $7.1 million.
In the summer of last year, co-founder Dario Nul and marketing manager Chris Picariello examined the retailer’s traffic sources and found that a sizeable amount of visitors were coming from a handful of affiliate marketers in India, China and the Philippines. These affiliates were blanketing highly trafficked foreign sites with ads that led to 1,000 clicks per month and increased traffic on Dexclusive.com—but none converted.
This low-quality traffic also had a negative impact on the retailer’s page rank and search engine results, because those visitors didn’t go beyond the home page, Picariello says. “Most of these visitors were only on our site for a few seconds and clicked right off,” he says.
So last summer, the retailer cut off about 1,000 affiliates and reduced three affiliate marketing networks to only Commission Junction. That was the main reason traffic dropped 30% in 2011, but conversion went up 50% from 0.8% to 1.2%, Picariello says. “We stopped working with those affiliates because it wasn’t worth getting all the garbage traffic slowing down our site with no conversions,” Picariello says. “Now we are only getting people truly interested in purchasing watches.”
Another contributor to higher conversion was the shift from a Miva Merchant e-commerce platform to a custom-built Magento site, Nul says. “We have a lot more user-generated content now,” he says. “Customers can now tag our products or Like them on Facebook; we added product comparisons, wish lists and more product images. We widened our screen, too, so we can fit more content on one page. This is all definitely boosting our Google search results.”
The shopping cart is also more streamlined now, with fewer steps involved in the checkout process. The addition of Checkout by Amazon also contributed to higher conversions, Picariello says. That’s because some customers like paying for items by only entering their Amazon.com username and password, as opposed to their entire credit card billing information and address. Nearly 25% of shoppers currently pay with Checkout by Amazon, while 25% use PayPal and around 50% use credit cards.
“The fraud protection is a lot better with Amazon too,” Nul adds. “They cover all the costs if someone fraudulently purchases from us and we get a chargeback. This is a big deal for us, because we sell high-end watches, sometimes $3,000 or $4,000 apiece.”
The changes Dexclusive.com implemented in the last year are positioning the retailer for more growth in 2012, and Nul is forecasting a 100% increase in sales.
April Anderson, retail industry director at Google, will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 in June, in a session titled, “Paid search strategies for the smaller merchant.” The IRCE $200 early-bird discount expires March 31.