Freezing Out Fraudsters
April 1, 2005

Problem: Omaha Steaks wanted to prevent as many fraudulent orders as possible from shipping. Solution: Instituted a comprehensive fraud-protection program, and it hired fraud-prevention professionals. Results: Saves about $1 million annually from catching fraudulent orders before they ship and in credit card chargeback fees. Ron Eike, director of operations for food purveyor Omaha Steaks, called it his company’s “million dollar problem.” How to prevent fraudsters from using stolen credit cards and other illegal means to buy the company’s gourmet goods? Omaha Steaks established in the early 1990s a comprehensive fraud-protection program, which includes technological means of flagging suspect orders. It also

Catalogers Adapt Their Print Editions to Online Success
April 1, 2005

Two years ago, J.C. Penney Co. unveiled its latest branding slogan, “It’s all inside,” to illustrate to consumers that no matter which channel they shop — retail, catalog or online — they’ll find the same from Penney in terms of merchandise, service and the overall brand. No other companies have copied Penney’s slogan, of course, but many have followed the same path, recognizing that with more orders coming online, customers need to know that regardless of which channel they choose, they can expect a similar experience. Easy Does It Some catalogers have been making subtle alterations in their approaches to the print book

Web Site Security for Catalogers
April 1, 2005

Be afraid. Be very afraid. As you read this, hackers are scanning your servers for open ports. Or perhaps at this moment a hacker is pasting odd strings into your catalog request form to steal credit card numbers. Worse yet: Your machines might already be compromised — and you don’t even know it. Yes, my intent is to scare. And yes, I sound paranoid. But I’m actually not. As one security expert told me with no trace of humor, “It’s not paranoia when they really are trying to get you.” As a multichannel merchant, your days should be spent worrying about merchandise, customer

E-commerce: Spruce Up Your Web Site with Improved Web Selling Techniques
March 29, 2005

“The goal of any change to an e-commerce platform is to decrease the customer’s cost of time and effort in doing business with you,” said Eric Svenson, vice president of DMinSite, an e-commerce service provider to the catalog industry, in his talk “Advanced Web Selling Techniques for Catalogers” at the New England Mail Order Association conference held in Cambridge, Mass., last week. Customers will respond to a simplified shopping experience with higher average order values (AOV) and higher conversions, noted Svenson. In order to facilitate this goal, Svenson offered the following techniques: * Test, test, test! Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is

E-commerce: Lessons Learned From Being an Amazon Partner
March 15, 2005

Becoming an Amazon.com Merchant is a tremendous way to supercharge your Internet exposure, said Sally Rue, former director of consumer business at Caswell-Massey, a soap and toiletries multichannel merchant, during her talk at the conference of the eCommerce and Catalog Systems Forum, held March 3 and 4 in New Orleans. Caswell-Massey’s foray into the Amazon world boosted the merchant’s incremental sales and enabled it to achieve better prospecting. “No question, it was 100 percent worth it,” said Rue, now an e-business consultant who retains her ties with Caswell-Massey. Indeed, in December, Caswell-Massey, a tiny firm by most measures, had three of the top 10 selling

Special Report: Search Engine Marketing
March 1, 2005

Introduction Like other forms of e-commerce, the possibilities in search engine marketing (SEM) are only just beginning to be fully explored. In its own way, the craft of SEM is a lot like other methods of direct marketing: It requires a steady dose of testing, and in the end, a favorable return on investment. According to a recent SEM survey by New York-based Jupiter Research, just 25 percent of search marketers use “sophisticated SEM tactics. Marketers must cultivate sophistication to remain successful,” the survey states. What’s more, the search numbers continue to multiply. For instance, in November, Google doubled, to more than

By the Stats: Internet Most Fertile Ground for Fraud
March 1, 2005

Internet-related complaints comprised 53 percent of all fraud complaints processed in 2004, according to a report issued in February by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Other statistics reported by the agency: ¥ Online and offline identity theft accounted for 39 percent of the 635,173 fraud complaints filed in 2004. ¥ Internet auctions accounted for 16 percent of complaints. ¥ Shop-at-home and catalog sales accounted for 8 percent of complaints. ¥ Losses due to Internet fraud amounted to $265 million. ¥ In 35 percent of all fraud cases, victims were initially contacted via e-mail. For more information, visit www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/02/top102005.htm.

By the Stats: Online Shopping
February 15, 2005

Ease of use, not low product prices, rules customers’ online shopping satisfaction rates, according to Keynote Systems, which recently tracked the shopping experiences of about 2,000 consumers. Here’s what Keynote found: * 59 percent: consumers who cited ease of use as the most important criterion when selecting an online shopping site. * 32 percent: consumers who said low prices were what drew them to particular sites. * 6.1: average number of problems a typical consumer encountered during a single shopping experience. Keynote Systems’ executives recommended that online merchants focus on the following: site performance, the best practices of e-commerce leaders and customer feedback.

By the Stats: Holiday Festivity Drives December Internet Traffic
February 15, 2005

Not surprisingly, holiday-related content drove most Web activity in December, with seasonal sites accounting for eight of the top 10 gaining properties and nine of the top 10 gaining categories, according to comScore Media Metrix monthly analysis of consumer activity online. Following are a few things comScore noted: * Five of the top 10 gaining categories in December were retail subcategories. * Jewelry, luxury goods and accessories was the fastest growing retail subcategory with a 30 percent increase in traffic from November, and a 15 percent increase from the same time last year. * The department store category continued to show growth with a

IT Management: Four Steps to Properly Backing Up Your Web Site Data
February 15, 2005

“For businesses using the Web as a revenue-generating channel, their data are important company assets,” says Chris Kivlehan, marketing manger for INetU Managed Hosting, a Web hosting provider. Losing a customer database in a system-wide crash or other crisis can devastate your business. Orders can go unfulfilled leading to dissatisfied customers and, in turn, reduced revenue. Kivlehan recommends that you talk with your IT manager or a qualified consultant/vendor to discuss back-up procedures and the technologies (e.g., tape drives, separate network storage devices, CDs) needed to do the job properly. In the meantime, here are four steps to help you focus your efforts: 1. Write a