E-commerce: Four Tips for a Better Customer Experience on the Web
June 13, 2006

Methods to improve Web sites were the order of the day at Internet Retailer 2006, held last week in Chicago. Several industry experts were on hand in one session to offer their strategies on how to create opportunities for sales and conversions. Below are tips they offered: * Give your customers what they want. “While 92 percent of customers say that customer reviews are helpful to their shopping experiences, not many merchants actually are employing customer reviews,” said Lauren Freedman, president of e-commerce consultancy the e-tailing group. She cited a recent joint survey conducted by her company and retail consultancy J.C. Williams Group. Other site

Web Site Creative, Part II: Three Lessons Learned From a Web Site Redesign
June 13, 2006

Once you start a Web site redesign, the results often can be surprising. Geoffrey Robinson, vice president of e-commerce for auto parts cataloger J.C. Whitney revealed several surprises that followed his company’s Web site redesign during a session at last week’s Internet Retailer conference in Chicago. * Men don’t read! When Robinson and his team at J.C. Whitney added more text-based product information to site search results, they found that predominately male audience didn’t click on the category links listed as text, but rather skipped to the bottom of the page where specific product images related to the search were featured. Unfortunately, these product links

Tiered Commission Increases Most Popular Online Affiliate Incentive
June 13, 2006

Twenty-six percent of e-merchants offer tiered commission increases as rewards to online affiliate partners that drive traffic to their sites, according to a recent report from affiliate network LinkShare and shared with attendees at last week’s Internet Retailer conference in Chicago. Other affiliate incentives revealed by the study include the following: * Special access to marketing materials, such as data feeds and pay-per-click keywords: offered by 25 percent of online merchants; * VIP commissions, offered right away to large affiliates that can drive highly qualified traffic: 25 percent; * Contests rewarding top affiliates per month or per quarter: 22 percent; and * Special bonuses

Web Analytics: Three Success Stories
May 16, 2006

With the advent and development of Internet marketing in the last 10 years, catalogers have been inundated with more data than they know what to do with, courtesy of their Web analytics packages. Catalogers shared their frustrations and success stories regarding their online marketing data at the session “Web Analytics: The Secret to Your Success” at last week’s ACCM. Below are their stories. 1. With the current version of its site active and taking orders since 2002, Classic Designs has been using WebTrends to track online marketing data since that time, said Mark Desrochers, co-owner of the woodworking catalog. But while the software had been

E-commerce: Must-have Web Personalization Features
May 9, 2006

As online shoppers become increasingly savvy, catalogers must meet rapidly changing customer needs and expectations. The must-haves for accomplishing this are advanced e-commerce features that support personalization of online merchandising and enhance the brand experience. These features will allow catalogers to quickly respond to trends, assist in buying decisions, build customer loyalty, target marketing initiatives and enable product comparisons. Until recently, personalization features have been more reactive than proactive and have been delivered using approaches that leave much to be desired. Available e-commerce solutions that are fully featured have tended to be inflexible and expensive. In-house e-commerce development has left many catalogers with a confusing

Most E-commerce Execs Plan More Onsite Merchandising in 2006
May 9, 2006

Onsite merchandising is the top initiative planned by 75 percent of e-commerce executives to improve site performance, according to the Annual Merchant Survey conducted by e-commerce consultancy The e-tailing group. Among other data revealed by the survey of 190 senior e-commerce executives: * 70 percent of e-commerce executives plan to add or improve onsite search to improve Web sales; down from 77 percent last year. * 64 percent plan to redesign or upgrade their sites; level with last year’s survey. * 60 percent plan to devote resources to content development; up from 53 percent last year. * 50 percent plan to overhaul the online

Web Site Security: Back Up Your Web Site to Protect Customer Data
May 2, 2006

For every business that uses the Web as a revenue-generating channel, data are important company assets. The loss of a customer order database would be devastating to a cataloger, leading to unfulfilled orders, dissatisfied customers and loss of touch with thousands of clients. Keeping all of your Web site data on one computer or server, death-prone machines that they are, is a formula for disaster. Since it is self-evident that preventing the loss of all of a business’ orders and customer information is an important task, why is it that backup solutions are among the lowest priorities of most businesses shopping for Web hosting?

Cybercrime More Costly Than Physical Crime, Reports Says
May 2, 2006

Almost 60 percent of U.S. businesses believe that cybercrime is more costly to them than physical crime, according to a recent IBM survey of 600 IT executives. These executives report that the costs resulting from cybercrime primarily are from lost revenue, loss of current and prospective customers and loss of employee productivity. Other data revealed by the survey include: * 84 percent of IT executives believe organized criminal groups possessing technical sophistication are replacing lone hackers in the world of cybercrime. * 74 percent believe that there are threats to corporate security coming from inside their companies. * 61 percent believe it’s the responsibility

Online Retail Fraud on the Decline, but Vigilance Still Needed
April 25, 2006

Forty-eight percent of online merchants report that online chargebacks amount to about 0.1 percent of sales, which matches the generally accepted rate in brick-and-mortar stores. A recent survey by the Merchant Risk Council revealed this finding and other data revealed below: * Use of address verification systems by online merchants has increased from 70 percent to 83 percent since 2001. * The effectiveness of address verification systems on online retail sites has dropped from 70 percent to 25 percent. * Card verification codes’ use increased from 38 percent to 73 percent since 2001. * Card verification codes decreased in effectiveness from 49 percent to

By The Stats: Catalogs Available Online Jump by 20 Percent
April 18, 2006

The number of catalogs available online increased from 7,440 to 8,903 in the past year, according to the 2006 edition of The National Directory of Catalogs, which was released last week. Seventy-eight percent of the 11,438 catalogs in the directory are available online, up from 60 percent last year. Other data revealed by the directory: * 1,320 catalogs are only available online, up from 772 last year. * In the past 10 years, the strongest growing categories were Automotive, Education, and Apparel and Accessories. * In that time, the Automotive category has grown 101 percent. * The Education category has grown 54 percent. *