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Was it really the rain that put Halfords' cycle sales on the skids?

James Hammersley compares the ecommerce performance of the companies in the headlines against their key competitors and benchmarks them to find the real winners & losers.

In its half-year results announcement in September 2015, UK high street giant Halfords blamed the very wet August weather for an 11 per cent decline in sales of its cycles for the weeks covering 4 July to 28 August.

This comes despite a booming market, which has been boosted by British cycling success at the Olympics and Tour de France. At the time, the announcement generated some raised eyebrows. So was the rain to blame?

A closer look at August’s ecommerce numbers in comparison to a number of key competitors tells a different story. They suggest that despite being the market leader, its sales execution is a damp squib and that it will take more than an Indian summer to regain momentum.

Benchmarking ecommerce performance

Ecommerce comparisons give an incisive snapshot and can provide insight to explain the headlines. By comparing traffic and the efficacy of paid advertising you can make some well-founded assumptions as to which competitor is best at converting interest into sales.

By looking at landing pages you can assess who is thinking more about customer needs and by looking at the tools they use to understand their customers you can see who has got the intention to create deep insight against which they can drive sales growth.

Winners are those whose outcomes consistently beat their competitors in every area. Losers are those who, whilst they may have every tool at their disposal, are not using them effectively to drive growth.

James Hammersley is a founding partner of Good Growth. He is also the co-author of ‘Leading Digital Strategy’, a guide to ecommerce strategy

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