Analyzing the Marketing and Security Practises of Top 100 ecommerce Websites

You need to know what your rivals are doing if you’re an ecommerce retailer. You won’t be able to build a plan to beat them and win customers if you don’t know what they’re up to. That’s why we’re so ecstatic to share the findings of our first-ever Top 100 Ecommerce Retailers Benchmark Report.

There’s no better friend to any merchant than a fair competitor.

James Cash Penney

Ecommerce Marketing Tactics

Companies compete for consumers’ attention in today’s crowded marketplace. Ecommerce businesses would not be able to win market share without aggressive marketing. We looked at a few main marketing strategies used by the top 100 ecommerce websites and came up with some interesting results.

Organic Search Traffic Is King

Today, social networking sites like Facebook which receive the majority of press attention and hype, but search engines still drive the majority of ecommerce traffic and revenue. Analyzing traffic data for the top 100 ecommerce sites revealed that search was by far the most common, with social media and referrals trailing far behind:

  • Direct: 40%
  • Referrals: 5%
  • Search: 44%
  • Social: 3.5%
  • Display: 2.5%

Most Sites Don’t Use Cart Abandonment Emails

By reminding consumers about a purchase they were planning to make, sending cart abandonment emails can be an easy way to raise sales. However, only around a quarter (22%) of the top 100 ecommerce sites use cart abandonment emails.

Ecommerce Security Practices

With data breaches in the news every week, consumers are becoming more concerned about data security. In our research, we looked at the websites of the top 100 ecommerce companies to see what security policies and innovations they have in place. Here’s what we discovered:

93% Have Fully Switched To HTTPS

For several years, the HTTPS protocol was only used on a portion of a typical ecommerce website. HTTPS was used on checkout pages where users entered their credit card information, but HTTP was used on the rest of the website.

Google and other market players have recently pushed for HTTPS to be used on all pages of websites. We discovered that 93 percent of the top 100 ecommerce retailers are following this trend, with HTTPS being required on all pages of their sites. The remaining 7% use HTTP by default and only need HTTPS during checkout.

Just Under ½ Display A Security Seal

There are a number of security seals available for ecommerce websites to show to users in addition to the regular padlock that appears in the address bar on HTTPS pages. Many enable users to check that the site’s security is current. We discovered that 40% of the top 100 ecommerce sites have implemented a third-party security seal.

These third-party security seals are especially useful for smaller websites that users might not trust as much as a well-known brand.

Nearly All Use A High-Assurance SSL Certificate

On the market, there are several types of SSL certificates (the technology that enables HTTPS security):

  • Validation of the fundamentals (aka DV). These certificates encrypt web traffic but do not verify the website’s owner or operator.
  • Validation of the company (aka OV or EV). These certificates encrypt web traffic while also validating the website’s owner. An extended green address bar is also possible with EV certificates.

According to our research, high assurance (OV/EV) SSL certificates are used by 97 percent of the top ecommerce websites. To improve consumer trust and provide additional assurance when shopping online, ecommerce websites prefer high assurance SSL certificates. Revenue, customer loyalty, and average order value all rise as customer confidence grows.

HSTS Is Just Catching On

HSTS (HTTP Strict Transport Security) is a new framework for ensuring that a website always loads over HTTPS. This ensures that even if a hacker gains access to the user’s wireless router, intercepting and stealing payment information would be difficult. This alternative is still gaining traction, with just about a quarter of websites using it.

Every Site Has A Security and/or Privacy Page

Security and privacy are major issues for the average customer, with security breaches in the news every week. Top ecommerce websites understand this, with 100 percent of the top 100 having a protection and/or privacy page.

Most Have Implemented Minimum Password Requirements

For both brands and users, low protection and shared passwords are major security concerns. 90 percent of the top 100 ecommerce websites need passwords to be at least eight characters long, and 60% need passwords to be at least six characters long (for example, with numbers or special characters.)

Ecommerce Customer Experience Practices

Giving consumers a pleasant shopping experience is important not just for capturing the first sale, but also for inspiring them to return and make additional purchases.

Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you.

Mark Cuban

Most Sites Offer Phone & Chat Support

Customers expect an ecommerce retailer to provide quick delivery and provide excellent customer service. Although part of the appeal of ecommerce is the opportunity to shop from the comfort of your own home on your mobile or phone, consumers often expect to be able to contact customer service when necessary.

Ninety-nine of the top 100 ecommerce sites provide phone support, while 53 provide live chat support.

Most Stores Offer Free Shipping

The ecommerce market is still shaped by Amazon’s industry-revolutionizing strategy, with just over two-thirds (68%) of the top 100 ecommerce sites offering free shipping. The average qualifying amount for free shipping is $52.

Several websites, including Dell, Nordstrom, and Zappos, provide free shipping on all orders. A few websites take the opposite approach, requiring a minimum order of $150 to qualify for free shipping. For free shipping, the typical site has a $50 minimum order.

Most Sites Allow 1-2 Months For Returns

Return policies differ widely among companies, ranging from no returns at all to money-back guarantees with no questions asked. Most businesses allow customers to return items they no longer want. The median return window is 45 days, and the average return window is 67 days. (Due to a few companies that welcome returns up to one year after purchase, the average is higher.)

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