With increasing product competition and retailers continuing to revamp their own Web sites, the most innovative companies are the ones pulling in the most shoppers. Companies such as Lands’ End are taking new steps in technology to make online shopping even more convenient with new virtual tools; while online auction houses such as eBay are successfully convincing customers to purchase online.

Nielsen//Net Ratings specialize in Internet media research and use meters to track the number of visitors to Web sites on a monthly basis. Consumers who make purchases are also tracked, and their purchases are categorized by retailer and by the product purchased. The following retailers have had the most visitors-turned-buyers (or, as defined by Nielsen: the highest “conversion rates”) this past February.  

Conversion rate: 21.2 percent
Number one on this week’s list, ProFlowers shows it truly has perfected “the art of fresher flowers.” This Internet-based company offers same-day delivery for any type of holiday and occasion. Consumers can choose from an array of flower bouquets, gift baskets of fresh fruit and chocolates/desserts baskets, even steaks and seafood. This gifts distributor also offers exotic gifts, such as a Satsuki Pink Azalea Bonsai that goes for $449.98. Flowerfarm is ProFlowers’ sister company, and offers international delivery to over 50 countries.
2. 1-800-FLOWERS.COM
Conversion rate: 19.2 percent
Their first retail store opened in 1976 here in New York and their first online store was launched in 1995. The company has grown in reputation since, with the help of its relationships with services such as America Online, Microsoft Network (MSN), and Yahoo. The other key to success lies in relationships with well-known brands, such as Swarovski, Godiva, Yankee Candle and Crabtree & Evelyn. Customers have the opportunity to order specifically for business or personal gift-giving, and have many options ranging from silk flowers to junior cheesecake samplers.  
Conversion rate: 18.5 percent
One of the oldest and most reputable direct merchants for soft goods, Lands’ End was also one of the first companies to adopt the internet as means of reaching the consumer. The Web site launched in 1995 and originally featured only 100 products with personal stories and travelogues. Today, the site sells every product the company has to offer and caters to an online audience in United Kingdom, Germany and Japan. It also offers “My Virtual Mode,” which lets customers form 3-D models of themselves to virtually “try-on” clothes online.
4. QVC
Conversion rate: 18.3 percent
QVC stands for Quality, Value and Convenience, and its virtual shopping mall has succeeded in changing the way consumers shop. Not only can consumers browse the Web site 24 hours a day, but they can watch these same products on the company’s own television channel at any time. QVC launches 250 new products a week, and loyal customers are constantly on the lookout for the newest trends in each departments — ranging from Bose electronics to Smashbox and Prescriptives beauty products, all of which is available to customers throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Conversion rate: 15.3 percent
Famous for its tagline, “Whatever it is, you can get IT here,” this Web site has created a community consisting of more than one hundred million registered members worldwide. Founded in September of 1995, consumers and sellers visit eBay regularly to buy, sell and track products on an almost obsessive basis. EBay is also a regular sponsor for runway shows by Proenza Schouler and Narciso Rodriguez.

Conversion rate: 14.1 percent
Office Depot is “taking care of business” in the number six spot this week. The company, founded in 1986, is an industry leader in the distribution of office products. Office Depot is supported by over 30 internet sites outside North America and a Spanish online option for the U.S. Web site. Merchandise is available in many channels besides the Internet, including stores, direct mail and business-to-business electronic commerce.

Conversion rate: 13.4  percent
Watch out Ebay, Amazon.com is right at your heels. This Internet powerhouse offers more apparel options and designer brands than its competition. Prada, Gucci, Fendi and Christian Dior are just a few one of the fashion brands from which to choose. High-end labels featured in the beauty section include Nars, Anna Sui and Versace.
Conversion rate: 12.4 percent
Commended as a Blue-ribbon company last November by Fortune Magazine, Symantec is the only retailer of its kind to make a ranking. The company was founded in 1982 and specializes in providing security and computer performance support to consumers everywhere. Besides helping individuals (its antiviral software is particularly popular), the company expertly serves a broad business base.
Conversion rate: 12.4 percent
The history of this company is as unique as the home products that they offer. Gordon and Carole Segal were supported by one sales associate when they began the company in 1962, and have since expanded to become a successful and well-known interior decorating retailer. Beyond its original website, Crate & Barrel offers niche-type products at sister sites Cb2.com, and a brand new children’s furnishing company: Landofnod.com.

Conversion rate: 12.3 percent
This 29-year-old company has established itself as a destination for quality electronics by offering brand names such as Canon, Olympus, and Samsung. The company began as a small AM radio station in Florida, but it can now boast that it is the fourth largest television network in the country. HSN has also attracted many personalities such as Patti LaBelle, Suzanne Somers, and Susan Lucci, who showcase different fashion lines ranging from fitness and casual wear to lingerie.  

Source: Nielsen//NetRatings, Inc.

*Indicates a tie.

For further coverage of the top apparel Web sites, see tomorrow’s WWD.

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