I spotted a post by Bryan Eisenberg at FutureNow listing the top 10 online retailers by conversion rate. First of all – I was pleased to see three SLI customers in the list – FTD, Blair.com and Drs Foster and Smith. Before you start comparing your conversion rate to these sites and trying to work out why you can’t achieve anything like this you need to look at the types of online retailer that have made the podium here.
Schwan’s - an online grocery store will have a lot of loyal customers who buy their groceries every week. These people will have a conversion rate of close to 100% and so will skew the numbers. Similarly Drs Foster and Smith will have many loyal customers who regularly buy pet supplies.
On the other hand catalogers like Blair will have visitors who have already decided to buy based on the information in the catalog. In this case the website is functioning as an order taking system. It doesn’t have to do a great job of attracting people to the site and compelling them to purchase. The catalog has already done that. One small site search tip here – if people type a catalog number into the search box then you should navigate directly to the product page. This can help conversions because it saves a step (you don’t have to view the search results page and click on the product).
Of course the retailer you should be paying close attention is Amazon. In the ecommerce podcast I usually ask retailers for an example of a site they particularly admire. Amazon is by far and away the most common answer. They are undoubtedly the gold standard by which to measure yourselves.