Email Hit Parade: The Top Retailers, As Ranked By Coherent Path

The undisputed champion of retail email is Wayfair, the home goods ecommerce firm. It is No. 1 in a new study by Coherent Path: How 100 Of The Top Retailers Engage Shoppers In the First 45 Days and Beyond. 

Not that it has much competition: Many retailers are sending too many emails, failing to optimize them for mobile and falling short on personalization, partly because they are not making the best use of their data, according to Coherent Path. 

Coherent Path studied every email sent by the top 100 retailers in the Internet Retailer top 500 list. It also purchased from every retailer.

Out of a possible high of 100, Wayfair scored 76.7 overall. Here is what it is doing right:

  • 71% of the emails being sent to purchasers are unique to them
  • 50% contain product categories in the subject line
  • 54% had a subject line that matched the email content
  • They send more than one email a day only 17% of the time



In contrast, TJ Maxx was in the basement with a score of 26.9. It deserves this lowly ranking because it: 

  • Sends 80% less emails to the purchaser vs. the non-purchaser
  • Mentions categories in the subject line only 4% of the time
  • Sends more than three emails a day 26% of the time 

Club Monaco fell from the top spot, sliding from 79.9 last year to 61.8, in part because of differences in methodology this time around. The previous study measured email to non-purchasers only, whereas this year’s study includes the Purchaser Experience category — an area in which Club Monaco did not excel. 

So here are the top five. Three are online only. 

  1. Wayfair — 76.7
  2. Crate and Barrel — 75.8
  3. J. Crew — 74.5 
  4. Garnet Hil l— 68.4
  5. Joss & Main — 66.5

The apparel category had the highest overall score — 54.2 — and the Big Box & General Merchandise sector had the lowest, at 42.4%. The average was 49.5%. 

Breaking it down, here are some of the contributing factors:

The Purchaser Experience—The degree of personalization provided to new customers in the 45 days after the first purchase

The analysis shows that most firms are treating purchases and non-purchasers the same way. Some send no emails at all except for order confirmations and shipping notifications.

But there are winners. The top five in this category are:

  1. Levi Strauss & Co. — 100
  2. Home Depot — 93.8
  3. Ralph Lauren — 87.5
  4. CVS — 87.5
  5. Gap — 81.3

Levi’s earned the top score here because:

Over 75% of the emails Levi’s sent to purchasers were unique

Only 8% matched emails sent to a non-purchaser on the same day

Levi’s had 75% less discounts in their purchaser emails than non-purchaser emails

Next, Coherent Path conducted a Peer Comparison. Overall, J. Crew was No. 1.The listing: 

  1. J. Crew — 85
  2. Club Monaco — 80 
  3. Wayfair — 77.4
  4. Crate & Barrel – 76.2
  5. H&M — 75.4

This was based on these factors: 

Email Frequency — The average number of emails sent by each retailer.

Coherent Path reports that “many retailers are slamming their customers.” But not all. The top five were:

  1. Ballard Designs
  2. Free People
  3. Anthropollogie
  4. Maurices
  5. Dress Barn

The top two send an average of 0.96 emails a day, and restrict themselves to one message on those days 96% of the time. In contrast, “many retailers are slamming their customers,” sending more than one per day over a third of the time, Coherent Path reports.

Catalog Exposure: The amount of product categories exposed in each email

It takes an average of one year for the winners to expose their entire catalog. That’s not a long time: The overall average is three years. And the health & beauty retailers take 16.1 years, up from 9.4 years in the last study.

The study also found that 30% of the emails sent feature categories in the subject line, and that 25% contain subcategories.

The top five in this area are:

  1. Best Buy
  2. Barneys New York
  3. Hudson’s Bay
  4. Joss &Main
  5. Neiman Marcus

Email content: the optimization techniques used in each email

More than half of all subject lines fail to reflect the content of the email. Orvis scored the highest because it matched 85% of its subject lines to content, and designed 100% for mobile. Only 37% overall are optimized for mobile, but that’s up from 17% last year.

Another factor is use of discounts. Coherent Path found discount or promotional language in 39% of its emails, down from 43% the last time, with Health & Beauty firms scoring the highest here.

The lineup:

  1. Orvis
  2. J. Crew
  3. Best Buy
  4. Dick's Sporting Goods
  5. Saks Fifth Avenue


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