Marketlive Inc. said bricks-and-clicks (B&C) retailers using its e-commerce platform made hefty revenue and traffic gains online in the first half of the year, but came in dead last among six customer segments when it came to converting online visits to sales.
Marketlive’s Mid-Year Benchmark Report showed B&C retailers on its platform averaged a conversion rate of 0.8 percent, well below the average of 2.29 percent for all the company’s examined. That means merchants selling both through bricks-and-mortar and online stores, converted on average just 80 of every 1,000 visits to sales. The report also found that while B&M sites lowered their abandoned checkout rate the most of the six categories, they remained the highest at 52 percent.
Still, B&M retailers grew revenues by 22.8 percent thanks to a 19.6 percent increase in traffic. They also continued to boast an average order value of $271.55, the highest of the six segments compared in the report.
The report is based on results from more than 200 e-commerce websites that use the company’s e-commerce solutions, including Beachbody, Modell’s Sporting Goods, Title Nine and Trek. Marketlive clients generate about $1.5 billion in annual sales.
Catalog sites boasted the highest conversion rates during the first half at 3.2 percent, up 4.0 percent from a year earlier. Other segment conversion rates and year-over-year increases were: Apparel, 3.0 percent (+5.4 percent); Brand, 2.4 percent (+14.4 percent); Beauty, 1.9 percent (+16.0 percent); and Home 1.9 percent, (-6.3 percent) Brand and catalog retailers continued to enjoy the lowest cart abandonment rates at 69 percent.
“It's not surprising to me,” said Adrian Montgomery, director of brand marketing at Backcountry.com, which launched a comprehensive new ski guide on its site last week. “Customers are able to “shop” B&M's alongside traditional catalogue e-commerce retailers but in the end, if price is similar, they will go with a brand they recognize and trust over gambling on a B&M retailer who doesn't have a reputation for customer service.”
Backcountry, which is believed to have an average annual conversion rate approaching 3 percent, attributes much of its success to offering 24/7 on line chat with knowledgeable customer service representatives it dubs “Gear Heads.”
“Their expertise and guidance are so helpful in the purchase process and that service is what differentiates us from other online retailers as well as B&M retailers with a website,” Montgomery said. “You can't simply open an online store and expect traffic and conversion. There is a science to it. We literally have PHD's in our customer marketing staff that know the science of acquisition, conversion and retention.”
On average, Marketlive’s clients saw a 10.9 percent increase in visits, a 14.8 percent increase in revenue and 5.8 percent increase in conversion rates.
“Despite relentless pressure from Amazon, a fierce competitive landscape, and a slow economy, growth exceeded Shop.org/NRF’s 2013 annual forecast of 9-12 percent and was in line with estimates by eMarketer and ComScore,” reads the report.
The add-to-cart rate dipped 0.9 percent to 7.9 percent while the abandoned cart rate fell 1.2 percent to 72.1 percent. Abandonment at check out declined 3.0 percent to 40.1 percent. Smartphones and tablets accounted for 18.6 and 13.5 percent of search engine visits and 2.7 and 11.8 percent of revenue.
Apparel, footwear and accessories retailers saw an 11.3 percent increase in revenue on an 8.5 percent increase in traffic thanks to their 3.0 percent average conversion rate. The strong gain was attributed to a 4.2 percent increase in the add-to-cart rate, which reached 11.4 percent the highest of the six categories measured.