Music Instrument eCommerce Trends in Growth Mode; Fender. Gibson Falling Behind

MI Online Shopping Trends: in Growth Mode

Online shopping at the two largest musical instrument ecommerce retailers is trending up the last two months, a good sign that demand for guitars, keyboards, drums, etc., may be increasing. Our analysis show that 2.5 million web shoppers visited and combined. 

Fender and Gibson Site Visit Trends: Flat to Declining

Are and websites seeing similar growth in website traffic? Not at all. In fact, visits to Fender and Gibson sites have declined when compared to Musicians Friend and Guitar Center in the last two months. 

Fender Trends: Losing to Gibson

Worse for Fender, visit trends have slipped below trends at Gibson, in the last three months. In the last 12 months, at least through March 2013, Fender had out ranked Gibson; not any more. 

Looking for Answers

In an apparent attempt to reverse its negative trend, Fender has instituted a $100 and $50 rebate plan with hopes of recapturing the market's attention.

That's only a stop-gap strategy; a costly one that will cut into margins as sales continue to lag Gibson and others.

The Web and eCommerce Challenge

Our assessment of's site is that while a good looking site, it's underwhelming in content, ease of use, and encouragement of return visits. In short, our sense is that visitors show up at excited to browse for a highly anticipated new instrument, but leave too quickly, frustrated by their experience.

Benchmark Successes

We've had extensive experience working with major brands like Ironman Triathlon, Brooks Shoes (owned by Warren Buffett) and competitor ($500 million revenue) to boost website traffic, accelerate sales conversion rates, increase average order size, and encourage high loyalty to the brand, as indicated by return visits. 

When our clients site visitors have a great web experience, they become loyal to the brand, they return, they recommend to others, they buy, and they buy again. That's what Fender needs; and what it lacks.

Fender's Predicament

Fender needs to understand where it stands on these key performance measures, if it hopes to reverse the trend of declining visitors relative to the major online retailers. People likely visit highly motivated; they want to buy, and they want to learn enough about Fender products online so they can go to a participating dealer and make a purchase. 

If the site's turning them off, where can they go to learn about the products? Seems more and more are going to, or bypassing the guitar sites altogether, relying on two paragraph descriptions on product pages at and That's not going to help boost revenue, even with $100 and $50 rebates.

[Is Gibson doing great by comparison? Not at all. They've got plenty of online issues, plenty of areas to improve. Question is: will Gibson act before Fender in getting web analytics and strategy help before Fender? If they do, Fender will fall further.]

The Good News

The good news, is that if Fender takes a hard look at its ecommerce approach, diagnoses the issues that deter visitors from becoming eventual buyers, and swiftly implements common sense recommendations, it can see a turnaround in results within weeks. That's what's great about ecommerce and online traffic: basic changes can be implemented and performance can improve, literally, at the speed of sound. And the better news: we're interested in helping Fender achieve that success.