Web Design

E-commerce Insights: The Online Retail 2.0 Ideas Tour
December 1, 2006

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

E-commerce: Four Steps for Better Web Site Tests
November 14, 2006

The first key to successful testing online is to take a full commitment to the process, said Stephen Cheng, marketing manager at online bookseller Alibris, in his session at last month’s Mid Market eTail conference in San Francisco. “Accept the fact that you will have duds, ideas that just don’t work when you test them,” Cheng said. Following are his tips for a better online testing process. 1. Establish a cross-functional team suited to the task. A Web site test shouldn’t be run just by the marketing team or the IT person responsible for the site, Cheng said. Both departments should be involved, as well

E-commerce: Crucial Must-Haves for Web Sites and E-mail
October 24, 2006

During a session at last week’s Lenser & Associates client summit in San Rafael, Calif., Lenser partner Michelle Farabaugh offered several Web and e-mail marketing tips to the firm’s client base, which included more than 100 mid-size catalog marketers. Following are some that are worth keeping in front of you. * Increase your advertising effectiveness by improving headlines, copy and destination landing pages. Include a value proposition, promotions, deferred billing and a buy now button. * In e-mail, separately test segmentation, frequency, time of day/day of week, subject line, “From” address, format, offers, deadlines, length, landing pages and hold out panels in order to see true

Multichannel Creative: Present Your Brand Consistently
October 3, 2006

When it comes to integrating creative between the three primary marketing channels – catalog, Web and retail – much has been said about presenting a consistent image across all channels. But doing so isn’t always so easy. As Carol Worthington-Levy, partner and director at San Rafael, Calif.-based consultancy LENSER, pointed during a session at the recent New England Mail Order Association conference in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., multichannel marketers should enroll their creative people in “taking a role in the actual selling process.” She offered the following points and tips to marketers looking for ways to achieve multichannel consistency: Leverage your branding across all media that sells

Lamps Plus Gives Customers a Searchlight, Online and Off
October 1, 2003

Like so many of his cataloging colleagues, Dennis Swanson, president and owner of multichannel merchant Lamps Plus, originally thought his company’s Web site would serve customers only as an information portal. With 44 retail stores, Swanson figured customers would browse for lighting products online, but then buy them in his stores. Yet buy online they did. Still, Swanson suspected that the number of online orders would increase if customers could more easily navigate through his site’s 4,000 SKUs. The clincher came when he put a group of in-store sales reps online to offer live customer help. Sales doubled after a month. He

Six Key Features of Web Sites that Work
August 1, 2003

Seasoned etailers realize a Web site is more than just a “billboard in cyberspace.” They know the best sites create inviting, easy-to-use environments. Indeed, they’re interactive tools where prospects and customers can learn about a company and buy products. To be sure, a Web site is not a technological homage to yourself, your company or a Web designer. That said, however, showy, forever-to-download sites that are cool but little more than impediments to e-commerce are all too common on the Web. Indeed, the Webscape is littered with them. This article will explore how to avoid adding yours to the heap of Web junk. Usability

Search Sophistication
May 1, 2003

Neiman Marcus customers have discerning tastes, and visitors to its Web site deserve a shopping experience that offers the same level of sophistication, says Michael Crotty, vice president of marketing, Neiman Marcus Online. Following the relaunch of its Web site last spring, Crotty earmarked the next priority: improve the site’s online search capabilities. Previously, Neiman Marcus had an out-of-the-box solution that did searches only on a text and product-category basis. “It had to be a one-to-one match [to work],” says Crotty. “But we wanted shoppers to be able to search however they choose. We needed a very flexible solution.” The need was especially

Ways to Measure Your Site’s True Metrics
April 1, 2003

By 2005, online sales are expected to become nearly one-third of a cataloger’s business, according to The Direct Marketing Association. To track the success of your online efforts, you need a way to measure the effectiveness of your Web site — and your efforts to get people to visit it. What’s more, your measurements should go beyond the typical Web-server log-file analyzers that offer only performance- and site-driven data such as the ambiguous number of hits, page views, user sessions and unique visitors. Today, more powerful tools are available to measure campaign success, customer experience, e-commerce activity and overall return on investment (ROI).

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

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