E-Commerce

Online Sales: The Bright Spot of the 2002 Holiday Season
February 1, 2003

Though overall sales may have lagged during the 2002 holiday shopping season, a notable increase in online purchases gives catalogers reason to keep their chins (and hopes) up. Consumers spent almost $13.7 billion online during the 2002 holiday-shopping season, marking a more than 24-percent, year-over-year increase from 2001, according to the eSpending Report from The Goldman Sachs Group, Harris Interactive and Nielsen/NetRatings. Compounding this is a new survey from The Direct Marketing Association, which found that 78 percent of catalogers increased their holiday Internet sales in 2002, with an average percent increase of 47.3 over the 2001 holiday season. Several catalogers said

Case Study: TopBulb Beckons with Search Engine Terms
February 1, 2003

Problem: Boost a B-to-B catalog’s reach Solution: Expand sales into the consumer market using search engine marketing Result: 30 percent of TopBulb’s overall sales now come from the consumer market, from 0 percent four years ago Consumers began finding their way to the TopBulb.com Web site soon after its launch in 1999, and they found the site almost exclusively through search engine marketing. Until 1998, Indiana-based Gray Supply Co. produced only a print catalog, selling hard-to-find light bulbs to the b-to-b and medical markets. Though the company’s founders had hired Phil Bonello as president and CEO that year to increase sales, he also saw

25 Tips to Boost Web Traffic & Sales
February 1, 2003

As the difficult economy soldiers on, undoubtedly you’re looking to improve sales from all channels, including your Web site. But how will you do so? Amy Africa, president of Creative Results, an online research and consultancy based in Williston, VT, offered attendees of last fall’s conference for the New England Mail Order Association the following tips for e-tailers who want to increase Web traffic and generate more sales. 1. Make your site load fast. The average site loads in 46 seconds on a dial-up modem, but most people decide if they’re going to stay on a site within eight to 12 seconds. So they’re

Bombay Company Finds an E-mail Match
January 1, 2003

When Matt Corey joined furniture and accessories merchant Bombay Company as vice president of e-commerce in May 2002, he had his work cut out for him. The company’s existing e-mail program not only was costly, but it lacked Web-based and usability tracking tools. “We needed a program that would grow with us,” says Corey. The company’s combined needs for a source of advice on best e-mail practices, more efficient e-mail campaigns and Web-technology management led it to e-mail solutions provider Silverpop, which offers Dynamic Messaging 3.0 software. The solution enables users who aren’t already familiar with information technology to rapidly

Anatomy of a Home Page
October 1, 2002

Here’s an analogy: Home page is to Web site as storefront is to retail and cover is to catalog. In short, it’s the first impression prospects have of your company, and a critical one at that. In fact, a home page has to work even harder than a retail storefront or print cover because it must facilitate transactions further on in the site, says Bridget Fahrland, executive creative director at e-business consultancy Fry Multimedia. “It can’t just be about catching the eye. Something there has to get [customers] to go deeper,” she explains. Though much of home page design depends on each cataloger’s

Climb to the Top of Search Engine Charts
September 1, 2002

Want to know the secret to stellar search engine rankings for your catalog? It’s not technical tweaks or coding tricks. Page-one search engine rankings on spidering search engines such as Google and Inktomi mostly hinge on one thing: your Web site copy. Search engine optimization (SEO) writing entails expertly weaving keyphrases (e.g., cashmere sweaters, men’s digital watches) throughout your online marketing text. Proper keyphrase research and positioning will reward you with top-tier rankings and online branding. But if you starve the search engine and ignore your keyphrases, your site rankings may slump. Brand Your Business, Beat Your Competition If you’ve ever believed that your

Case Study: Godiva Sweetens Its Site
September 1, 2002

The fish are the last to discover the sea, so says the Chinese proverb. This analogy may stretch to Godiva, whose staffers had been working so closely with its site they weren’t sure what was needed to make it even better. According to Beth Brown, Godiva’s senior manager of interactive, prior to an October 2001 makeover the company’s interactive group tweaked its site based only on competitive benchmarking and intuition. “Before, I literally had mock-ups [of page designs] and would ask [my staff] what they thought,” she says. This time, Brown sought advice directly from customers with usability testing. Brown and

Products: From Paper to Pixels
September 1, 2002

A customer’s online and print product experiences can be summed up as the difference between two words, according to Bridget Fahrland, executive creative director at e-business consultancy Fry Multimedia. “The Web provides proactive shopping, while a print catalog provides reactive shopping,” she explains. “On a Web site, you’re allowed to play more with what you see.” But make sure to play by the rules; a balance of romantic (read: promotional) copy and helpful product information is key to keeping a user’s interest, and consequently, business. Petra Schindler Carter, director of consulting services at Fry, points out that consumers don’t have to make cognizant decisions

Integrate Your E-commerce Solutions
July 1, 2002

Long after the Internet bubble burst, e-commerce is alive and well for direct marketers and is the fastest-growing direct commerce sales channel. Catalog companies have three options for managing the dynamic online marketing environment. An Independent Adjunct At one extreme, a catalog’s e-commerce operation can stand alone as a totally independent adjunct to the traditional enterprise. Although it may share some of the same merchandise, it also may feature items that are not in the catalog. When it does offer catalog items, they may be only a subset of the full catalog line. In this extreme scenario, no effort is needed to

Close More Online Sales
June 1, 2002

Catalogers know the Web can be a valuable place to sell product. However, it’s likely that many are missing the chance to generate even more sales via the Web. To boost your chance at success, pay as much attention to closing the sale online as you would in your print catalogs—perhaps even more so due to the nature of the Web. Therefore, to convert more of your Web shoppers into buyers, consider three key points in your Web-shopping process: online customer service; shipping and handling; and order-taking and processing. Online Customer Service Here are two commonly held misconceptions about online customer service: