E-commerce Insights: The Online Retail 2.0 Ideas Tour
The Web is an essential channel for catalogers. Customers expect catalog companies to have effective, well-designed e-commerce sites. The Internet is undergoing a period of rapid innovation, often labeled “Web 2.0.” It includes tagging, visual search, wikis and Ajax.
Web 2.0 technologies will transform online retail over the next two years. Catalogers will need to upgrade their sites to remain competitive. I suggest you read this month’s column with a computer close by — as I’ll tour some Online Retail 2.0 ideas that will transform e-commerce.
The first stop is del.icio.us, the social tagging site. (Go to del.icio.us/catalogsuccess, and you’ll find a list of all links in this article indicated in print with underlines.) Del.icio.us allows users to organize the Web via tags, a so-called folksonomy.
To see power of tagging in retail, visit Etsy.com, a handmade goods site. Try searches like “knit hat,” “funny gift” or “squid.” You’ll get highly relevant results because of the user-contributed tags. Relying on the wisdom of crowds, customers may do a better job of organizing your products than your merchants. Tagging lets them do just that.
User-contributed content is central to Web 2.0 and Online Retail 2.0. You’re probably familiar with Wikipedia, the encyclopedia that anyone can edit.
The next stop on the tour, ShopWiki.com, brings the same concept to comparison shopping. ShopWiki lets visitors compare products from contributing retailers. It also contains thousands of user-written essays on topics such as men’s electric shavers, children’s car seats and women’s jeans. While checking out these articles, feel free to fix mistakes or add your opinion — all pages are open to edits from anyone. Before leaving ShopWiki, search for women’s jeans and note the “colors” button. Click the button and a color wheel pops up. Click a color and the search results page instantly re-sorts itself, first presenting the jeans closest to your color preference.