Yesterday, I witnessed an interaction between a relative newbie to the direct marketing industry, and a vendor.
The discussion was about "Shopping Cart Abandonment". The newbie wanted to know if 'x' percent was a good abandonment rate.
The vendor did a reasonably good job of being unbiased, then offered solutions like promotional e-mails offering a discount or free shipping for merchandise abandoned in the cart within the past seven days.
At the end of the discussion, business cards were exchanged, and if the vendor is lucky, a relationship will be proffered.
Here's a metric that may be more appropriate than the one that measures shopping cart abandonment:
Multichannel Volume Per Monthly Unique Visitor = (Catalog Demand + Online Demand + Retail Net Sales) / (Monthly Unique Visitors).
The numerator sums total monthly volume across channels for each unique website visitor during a thirty day period of time.
By using this metric, we avoid some of the pitfalls that cause us to mistakenly hire vendors hawking shopping cart abandonment solutions.
For instance, take the classic multichannel situation where a customer visits the website, puts two items in the shopping cart, then purchases merchandise in the store three days later.
In this situation, your business enjoys a true "conversion".
Web pundits will tell you that you have a "problem".
Give this multichannel metric a try, and compare like months, year-over-year, to see if your website is being used as an effective multichannel marketing vehicle.