Yellow J.Crew tank top: $14.
Percentage of consumers who might buy that tank top on JCrew.com: 5.2 percent.
J.Crew is among hundreds of traditional retailers that have gone online in the past few years. But how successful have they been in getting people to actually buy things at their sites?
Survey company NetRatings Inc. of Milpitas, Calif., released numbers this week showing that these traditional retailers aren't doing too badly and are carving out a competitive niche in the online retailing industry.
The research shows that companies such as Amazon.com and CDNow, which market solely to an online audience, don't necessarily have a much higher rate of actual sales, said Allen Weiner, an analyst at NetRatings.
Since March, NetRatings has tracked the behavior of 15,000 visitors to retail sites and calculated the percentage who actually make a purchase. This is known in the trade as the "looker/booker" ratio.
Amazon.com, for example, has maintained a consistently high ratio of 8.6 percent, making it a leader in the online bookselling business. But Hallmark.com, a traditional company trying its hand on the Web, had a rate of 7.5 percent.
Looking vs. Booking
Site Sales rate*
Web and traditional retailers
Victoria's Secret 5.9
*Percent of visitors who become buyers