Williams-Sonoma masters content marketing

2 minute read


of revenue from eCommerce


eCommerce growth in 2018


 CAGR revenue growth since 2012

Why should a shopper buy from you rather than from your competitors? It’s an important question - especially when some of your offerings can be bought from dozens of other merchants. Competitive prices and convenient shipping options are definitely key. But Williams-Sonoma has demonstrated that encouraging consumers to spend more time on one’s website, even if they’re not browsing products, can significantly drive online sales revenue. It’s a numbers game: as of Q2 2018, eCommerce conversion rates were under 3% both for the US and globally - partially because placing an order is not the primary reason 80% of customers visit online shopping sites. But obviously, more site visitors at the top of the funnel means more conversions. 

Our customers consume what we give them... the more content we give, the better engagement becomes.

JANET HAYES, Williams-Sonoma CEO

From catalogue sales to digital personalization

Williams-Sonoma was an early mover in the transition to digital. By 1997, there was already an internal understanding that selling digitally was the direction the company needed to take. From the start, they made some key strategic moves. For instance, making salesperson compensation channel-agnostic, so that store employees make commision for online sales they initiate. Another was leveraging the power of their customer database - which they built up over years of selling via catalogue - for digital personalization. 

The company is still ahead of the pack in their personalization abilities. According to Gartner, Williams-Sonoma “can connect a name, email address, and physical address to 70% of purchases”. When you create an eCommerce account, there’s a good chance that Williams-Sonoma can already give you shopping recommendations based on your brick-and-mortar order history. 

Turning browsers into shoppers

Source: Williams-sonoma’s mobile site

Think about all the items in your house. How many did you buy because you identified a clear need, and went shopping specifically for this product? On the other hand, how many of your possessions were impulse buys? Research suggests that impulse buys account for 40% of all spending on eCommerce sites.

So it’s important that people spend time on your site - even if not explicitly shopping. Visitors browse Williams-Sonoma’s flagship site for recipes, to learn everything there is to know about wine, and even to get help planning their wedding

And the browsing time doesn’t have to be on your actual site to make an impact. Wiliiam Sonoma’s Pinterest board  (and their other brands, West Elm and Pottery Barn) are updated constantly with new food and home ideas. Many articles or posts subtly point readers in the direction of relevant products (and hopefully impulse buys!).

Source: Williams-sonoma’s website

Williams-Sonoma today

eCommerce accounted for 54.3% of their revenue in 2018

11% eCommerce growth in 2018

Riskified’s fraud insights

Behavioral analytics & Fraud

Keeping track of shopper behavior on your site is critical for accurate fraud management. For instance, Riskified’s behavioral analytics have found that certain page visits – among them supplemental content like blogs, or wedding registry information – are indicative of a legitimate shopper. It’s also a good sign if you see a visitor going back and forth between product pages to compare prices. Tracking on-site behavior can help you approve more transactions. 

As mentioned above, customers tend to shop around. Riskified has found that 20% of customers who eventually make a purchase browse the site on at least four different days, and 10% of these shoppers accumulate over 11 visits before checking out. The general trend is that the higher the number of site visits, the safer the order, while fraudsters typically add high value items to their cart and quickly complete checkout.

You can learn more about using behavioral analytics to detect fraud here.