Shopping Carts, Sign‑ins And Conversions

May 18, 2006

By now, most e-commerce vendors know that if you require new visitors to sign in before they are allowed to purchase, you decrease your conversion rate. This morning, I experience a new version of this worst practice.

I couldn’t find the black sweatshirt I wanted on my favorite sites, so I started with Shopzilla and found a vendor I had never purchased from before, Apparel4sale. When I started the checkout, they demanded that I register. Well OK, I thought, another vendor who doesn’t know how to read their web analytics, but let’s get this done and over with. So I registered for their site, and then found that they had a PayPal shopping cart, which meant that I had to put in the information all over again. And then I saw that instead of directing the visitors to a “Thank you very much” success page on their own site, Apparel4sale allows PayPal to use a PayPal success page. This means that Apparel can’t measure their conversion rate.

Sure, they can take the orders they get and divide them by total visits or unique visitors (choose your poison), to get an overall conversion rate. But they can’t segment the way I wrote about yesterday — they don’t know which visitors who came from Shopzilla, like me, converted, vs. visitors who found them on a PPC ad, or any other way.

(Sidebar: If you look in the comments from that post yesterday, you will see Ohad Gliksman’s two cents on landing pages. Among other things, he highlights the practice of having specialized landing pages per affiliate — like Shopzilla. )

Now let’s see if this sweatshirt is as bad as the site and the analytics must be…

Robbin Steif