SOURCE: MarketLive


November 05, 2009 13:43 ET

MarketLive Performance Index™ v9 Reports Mixed Year-Over-Year Results: Visits, Engagement Rates and Revenue Up, Conversion Rates Fall

Metrics Indicate Retailers Are Working Hard for Gains as Consumer Research Intensifies

PETALUMA, CA--(Marketwire - November 5, 2009) - MarketLive, Inc. (, the leading eCommerce platform and services provider for mid-market specialty retailers, today released the MarketLive Performance Index™ Volume 9, "Key Holiday Success Factors." The report is the company's quarterly analysis of aggregate performance data from more than 100 online retailers using the MarketLive® Intelligent Commerce Platform™ during Q3 2009. In addition to reporting on Key Performance Indicators, the report offers strategies for profitable implementation of free-shipping promotions and customer service insights that can help merchants drive sales this holiday season.

The MarketLive Performance Index Volume 9 reveals a mixed picture. On the positive side, year-over-year visits were up 1.16%, overall sales grew 1.95%, the one-and-out rate decreased 19.39%, and the add-to-cart, or engagement rate, increased 18.97%. Mirroring the tentative economic recovery, the report also showed that conversion rates dropped 8.6% while cart abandonment rose 4.36% during the same period.

In a survey of over 1000 consumers completed in early October, MarketLive and e-tailing group uncovered several factors that will help retailers be successful this holiday season. "While there are still challenges for retailers, the picture is getting brighter," said Ken Burke, Founder and Chairman for MarketLive. "When we look at both Performance Index data and findings from our recent consumer-focused holiday shopping survey, we see improvement as customers are becoming more bullish about online shopping. In fact, 55% of consumers say they plan to shop online during the 2009 holiday season -- up from 49% last year. And they are not solely looking for bargains. Fully 88% of survey participants reported they are willing to pay full price for unique products, excellent service, and convenience."

Strategies to Maximize Sales

The 2009 holiday season has the potential to reap significant rewards for merchants, despite the challenging economic environment. Research indicates Shoppers may not be looking for rock-bottom prices, but it's still essential to deliver value in the form of judicious promotions and stepped-up service. With the holidays fast approaching, fine-tuning sites with the following strategies will be crucial to maximize sales.

Strategy 1 -- Targeted Free Shipping that Won't Break the Bank: Consumer research showed that free shipping offers are crucial to holiday success. Shipping charges remain the number one barrier to buying online for the holidays, with 62% of consumers saying costs are too high, according to the MarketLive / e-tailing group survey. Similarly, 91% of consumers say free shipping tops the list of promotions that influence them to make online purchases.

But offering free shipping too liberally can destroy margins and set false expectations with consumers that it will always be available. Instead, merchants should tailor free shipping offers to certain purchase periods and target them further by customer type or product type. Strategic free shipping offers can trigger a purchase and be perceived as high value to consumers.

Strategy 2 -- Using customer service to drive sales and satisfaction: Consumers attach real value to customer service. Our research shows that 28% of shoppers are willing to pay full price for the right products coupled with excellent customer service. Research also shows that responsive merchants, whose sites smooth the purchase process, are more likely to win powerful word-of-mouth recommendations. The MarketLive / e-tailing group survey found that three elements are the most important for converting holiday browsers into buyers: 1) easily accessible customer service phone numbers, 2) reinforcing holiday shipping deadlines throughout the site, 3) provide multiple contact points such as phone and chat.

Finally, the ability to view and add to a perpetual shopping cart without leaving the current page is key to a smooth browsing and buying experience. Research shows that 66% of shoppers say that a perpetual shopping cart is a top customer service feature. While it's probably too late to re-engineer shopping cart processes for the holidays, retailers can still tweak their designs to give more prominence to the cart link. If a link to the shopping cart isn't already in a site's global header, retailers should add it, and consider improving cart icons with a holiday graphic to catch shoppers' attention.

About MarketLive

Since 1995, MarketLive, Inc. ( has provided enterprise-class eCommerce retail technology and services that help fast-growing companies successfully sell goods and services online. Designed to meet the unique requirements of catalogers, retailers, direct marketers, and manufacturers, the extensible MarketLive® eCommerce Suite and MarketLive's best practices-based Intelligent Selling® methodology enable merchants to enhance their customers' experience online while dramatically improving acquisition, conversion, and retention rates. The MarketLive platform is the most retail-targeted, fully featured, customizable eCommerce solution on the market today. MarketLive powers successful retail eCommerce sites, including Peruvian Connection, Bon-Ton Stores, Sports Chalet, Design Toscano, Gaiam, Greatland, Party City and many others.

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