2 Key Trends From eTail West

As it usually does, the eTail West conference in Palm Desert, Calif., from which I've just returned, didn't disappoint.  While a bunch of themes emerged from the show — big data, analytics, social media personalization, customer engagement, conversion and mobile apps, to name a few — two stuck out that I'd like to discuss here

3 Ways for B-to-B Retailers to Save Marketing Dollars … and 1 Way Not To

True confession: I love it when mail quantities in the United States are down. Although this trend is overall bad for our industry, in the here and now it's good news. The reason? There will be less competition in the mailbox for my clients. As a result, their response will soar. Catalogs and direct mail continue to drive sales for niche and specialty B-to-B companies, but a question persists: Through web optimization, can't you get all of these sales by spending a lot less money?

4 Best Practices for Combating Online Fraud

The good news is that online retailers understand fraud is a growing problem and have taken steps to combat it. Their efforts are making an impact. Studies point to a decrease in the percentage of orders lost to fraud. Our own Annual Trends Survey revealed that for 75 percent of respondents, less than 1 percent of their online orders are fraudulent. While this is a step in the right direction, you shouldn't be satisfied till that figure is 0 percent. Here are tips to help you get there:

5 Ways Retailers Can Protect Mobile Transactions From Fraud

Mobile retail sales grew at an exponential rate in 2012, and the channel shows no signs of slowing down this year. In fact, mobile transactions are expected to top $1 trillion worldwide by 2017. If anything, mobile commerce is poised to become even more firmly entrenched in the marketplace as retailers gear up to provide consumers with more enhanced mobile shopping experiences.

7 Ways to Increase Your Online Sales

Consumers going online to shop is happening with more regularity than ever before. In fact, e-commerce sales accounted for 10 percent of total retail sales in 2012, the first time that figure has reached double-digits. As a result of this shift in consumer behavior, retailers need to optimize their websites to present the best possible experience for shoppers. Here are seven tips to help you accomplish that:

An Offer Consumers (and Retailers) Can't Refuse

This issue's Check it Out profiles a company that couldn't be more aptly named for the department: Coupons at Checkout. Yes, check out what this company is doing on retailers' checkout pages. OK, enough with the bad forced puns and onto the serious business.

Annual Trends Survey 2013

A move away from online channels and toward physical spaces — e.g., pop-up, outlet and brick-and-mortar stores — to market products is trending for Retail Online integration readers, at least according to this year's Annual Trends Survey. They'll also rely more on television, digital catalogs and social media this year to increase consumer engagement and ultimately grow sales. Their biggest challenge? For the third year in a row, customer acquisition.

Cache's Mobile App Drives Relevant Content, Offers to Customers

Women's apparel retailer Cache launched a mobile app last December due to increased traffic to the brand's mobile website. Working with mobile and multichannel platform provider Usablenet, Cache has designed an app that engages its customers with relevant content and offers, while at the same time integrates multiple marketing channels.

Charming Charlie Goes Local to Improve Search Rankings

Charming Charlie, a Houston-based fashion, jewelry and accessories retailer, launched a local search marketing program late last year that helped its local first-page Google search rankings nearly double on average in the more than 240 cities where the retailer has brick-and-mortar locations.

Digital Catalog Boosts Engagement, Sales for Brahmin

In its search for another customer engagement vehicle, Brahmin realized that one of its existing assets, its print catalog, could be reinvented to better serve today's digitally connected shoppers. It only made sense to put some of the beautiful product photography taken during Brahmin's catalog shoots to work online as well rather than just using it in the pages of its print book.

Free Shipping vs. Offering Lower Prices

"I'm interested in the idea of free shipping vs. offering lower prices but shipping surcharges at checkout. For industries like mine (online furniture), which require freight shipping, does offering free shipping have the same positive effect on sales as it does for small products using UPS, etc.? Does an online consumer of furniture expect (and willingly pay) shipping surcharges, so long as the product price is low enough? Basically, will I increase conversions by lowering prices and getting rid of free shipping? Thanks!" — Deborah Fester, owner, Painted Furniture Barn

The Top Women in Cross-Channel Retail

Welcome to Retail Online Integration's third annual list of the best and brightest women in the cross-channel retail industry. The women highlighted on this list are marketing and merchandising professionals, e-commerce experts, and chief executive officers at cross-channel retail companies of all sizes. They've all helped to position their companies to succeed in today's fast-paced cross-channel retail environment.

The Year of the Mobile Wallet? Better Luck Next Year

The concept of a mobile wallet isn't new. After all, Google Wallet has been live for a year-and-a-half and prior to that there have been a number of startup payment systems in the marketplace. What's changed in the marketplace is that many tech industry experts and tastemakers are proclaiming 2013 the year of the mobile wallet. Here are the reasons why: