Friday, June 27, 2008

It's that time again! 1 Choice has a new FREE e-book for Yahoo
Store Owners.
Check out this month's newsletter and download your
copy today!

Learn more about:

  • How to get the most out of Comparison Shopping sites
  • Internet video Selling
  • Strengthening the customer bond
  • Tips for running a Small Ecommerce Business
  • ...and much much more!

Plus, you can listen to our interview with Wordtracker on the Yahoo
Store Power Hour where we learned tips about keywords that EVERY
Yahoo Store owner NEEDS to learn today!

Additional features this month:

*How to beat the recession
*Increasing conversion rates with Rob Snell
*Building a blog for income
*Google Adsense tips
*Affiliate Marketing
*and much more!

Click here to read this month's newsletter now as there is also a
special offer from Worldwide Brands that ends soon!


http://www.1choice4yourstore.com/june-2008-news.html

Sincerely,

Shawna Fennell


by: Shawna Seigel



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Another great email came my way today from Worldwide Brands. This is definitely something you do not want to miss out on. Offer ends on Monday!

Hi Shawna,

Take a look...

http://blog.worldwidebrands.com/specialoffer/

It's the first payment plan ever offered by Worldwide Brands.

Now you can get started with the 'Product Sourcing
Membership' with over 6 million wholesale products and
our premium education product, "The Whole Sale" for
only $99 down. You’ll make easy payments of $133 over
the next 3 months, but start enjoying the benefits for your
eBiz right NOW.

Here are the full details:

http://blog.worldwidebrands.com/specialoffer/


There are 2 reasons why we're doing this...

Reason #1: We just finished surveying over 10,000
people who signed up for our "Beat The Recession with
eCommerce" series and almost 80% of them didn't know
what products they would be selling this holiday season.

It's a mistake that could cost thousands of dollars in
sales and profits.

Experienced retailers know that right now is the time to
get your orders in to the wholesalers.

Not a few months from now.

If you wait, you could miss out on the 2008 holiday
season and you'll have to wait until next year.

Each year, the holiday season is the time most retailers
make the bulk of their profits.

You definitely don't want to miss out on it. Click here to
find the products you want to sell this holiday season
and to get your orders in with the wholesalers:

http://blog.worldwidebrands.com/specialoffer/

Reason #2: We want to give you some financial relief.

Even though we showed you example after example of
retailers making record profits through the recession,
we still heard from people who are little afraid to get
started right now.

We understand.

So, in addition to giving you a payment plan that makes
it easier to get your eCommerce business moving, we're
going to give you a $200 discount on everything.

You can read about it here:

http://blog.worldwidebrands.com/specialoffer/

We obviously can't keep this offer open forever.
It's only available through this coming Monday
night, June 30, 2008.

When the clock strikes midnight (Eastern standard Time)
this Monday, the offer will expire.

Take advantage of this right now. It's the best offer
we've ever made.

http://blog.worldwidebrands.com/specialoffer/

Thanks and I'll talk to you soon.

Chris Malta
WorldwideBrands.com


by: Shawna Seigel



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Monday, June 23, 2008
Today on the Power Hour we are interviewing Ken McGaffin from Wordtracker who will be helping us to understand why keywords are so important.

What we will be discussing...

Who uses keyword research and why?
How can people do keyword research?
What does Wordtracker do?
Where does the data come from?
How accurate is the information?
How can a business use keyword research?

and much more!

Join us LIVE today at 6:00 PM Eastern (3:00 PM Pacific) on WSRadio.com



Don't forget to check out our archives for 24/7 listening as well!


**Special Offer from WordTracker**




by: Shawna Seigel



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Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The folks from Worldwide Brands sent me over another great email about the new free product they have as well as the awesome new videos.

Here is the info :)

Shawna,

Your next free video is ready.

http://blog.worldwidebrands.com/?kbid=23107

It's the 5th video in the 'Beat the
Recession with eCommerce' series.

In this video, we tackle your top 2
frequently asked questions:

1. What to sell and where to start?

and

2. How do I beat my competitor's price?

You'll watch as we analyze a market that will grow
by 30% in the next 4 years and show you how to drill down
into specific products to sell in this market.

You'll see how to cut your market research down to
minutes, instead of weeks.

You'll also get a real life example of how to quickly add
value to any product you're selling and outsell
competitors who are trying to under-cut your prices.

Watch the video now:

http://blog.worldwidebrands.com/?kbid=23107

Thank you for all of your tremendous
feedback on this video series. We had
a lot of fun creating it and we love
the comments you've given us.

There will be one more video in the
'Beat the Recession with eCommerce'
series after this one.

But don't worry, what we've shared
with you in the last few weeks is just
the tip of the iceberg.

We've actually been working on new content,
techniques, and strategies to help grow your
eCommerce business for the past year.

I'll send you an email tomorrow that tells you
more about that.

So, keep your eyes on your inbox.

It's going to be a great week for your
eCommerce business.

Thanks and I'll talk to you soon.

Chris Malta
WorldwideBrands.com



by: Shawna Seigel



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Monday, June 16, 2008
Today's Yahoo Store Power Hour is packed full of information!

First we will be interviewing Istvan Siposs from YTimes.info He has written the books on RTML that have saved dozens of Yahoo Store Owners time and money! He has a new book out on how to customize your Yahoo Store Checkout Pages that is really awesome! Check it out for yourself!

http://www.ytimes.info/yahoo-store-checkout-customization.html

Our next guest is a Yahoo Store Success story! Find out how they succeeded using Yahoo Stores!

Our show will conclude with Ron Pereira who will be discussing email marketing. He has an email marketing software program that is truly inspiring! Rob Snell has been checking it out over the last few months and is impressed! So much so that he is conducting a webinar on how you can use this software to make more money! We all love hearing that! Sign Up For Rob's Webinar NOW


Click here to LISTEN LIVE AT 6:00 PM EASTERN TIME

Or

Listen to our archives, by going to:

http://www.powerhourradioshow.com/

You will find our interview with Rob Snell, Jimmy Duvall, oh yeah..and the elusive Don Cole!


by: Shawna Seigel



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Just got this in my email and wanted to share with everyone!!

Shawna,

This week will be a special one for
your eCommerce business.

To start it off, we're giving away
one of our best reviewed products:
Drop Ship Focus.

But you have to move fast to get it.

Click here to pick it up and to see why
we're giving it away:

http://blog.worldwidebrands.com/?kbid=23107

For the past few weeks, we've given
away a lot of gifts for the 'Beat
the Recession with eCommerce' series.

But this one is major.

We used to sell Drop Ship Focus for $97.
And as you'll see, it's jam-packed with a
tremendous amount of material.

Take a look at everything you'll get...

* 23 audio interviews with top wholesale and
dropshipping experts. Over 11 hours of
insider information on drop shipping,
liquidation, importing, fulfillment and more.

* 5 online videos that walk you through the
very basics of the dropship and wholesale process.

* 100 real dropship suppliers with a total
of 67,543 wholesale products you can
dropship to your customers.

This is a special product and everyone
who has seen it, loves it including
internet experts and auction sellers.

Listen to what eBay Gold PowerSeller
Skip McGrath said about it...

"I've been selling on eBay for 9 years
and dropshipping for the last five years...
and I learned a ton of new stuff. A lot
of people provide great information about
finding dropshippers, but Drop Ship Focus
combines the sourcing information with
great training. This is a great system
for beginner and advanced sellers."

Click here to get free access:

http://blog.worldwidebrands.com/?kbid=23107

I'd love to know what you think about
Drop Ship Focus. Put it to use
immediately and let us know what
kind of results you get.

This is just the beginning of the
business boosting tools we have in
store for you this week.

Stay tuned for the next couple of
emails. We've been working on
something major for the past
year and this week, we're finally
going to reveal what it is.

It's going to have a dramatic
impact on your eCommerce
business.

In the meantime, enjoy Drop Ship
Focus and I'll talk to you soon.

Chris Malta
WorldwideBrands.com

P.S. - Make sure you get Drop Ship Focus
today. It's only going to be available
for free for the next few days.

http://blog.worldwidebrands.com/?kbid=23107


by: Shawna Seigel



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Sunday, June 15, 2008
Shirley Tan CEO of American Bridal shares with us her Top 10 Lessons for being successful in no particular order

10. Plan for success
9. Create an operational bible
8. Find the right personality for each job position
7. Keep your expenses way down
6. If you must fail, fail quickly
5. Trust your people, but verify
4. Insist on a robust dialogue with your team
3. Fake it - Fearless leader
2. Yes, it's personal
1. Make friends

***Note From Shawna***

Listen to our interview with Shirley Tan live from Internet Retailer where she shares more tips and advice for success!


by: Shawna Seigel



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Start Small, Grow Big with Yahoo Merchant Solutions Jimmy Duvall, Senior Director Product Management, Yahoo Small Business

Why Customers Choose Yahoo
  • Brand credibility
  • Reliable and Secure
  • Grows with you
  • Ease of use
  • Customer Support
  • Trusted Development Network
A Snapshop of Yahoo Stores
  • Internet Retailer - #1 Hosted e-commerce provider
  • Over 45k merchants and growing
  • Billions of dollars in annual sales
  • Proven ability to scale and adapt to growing needs
What is Yahoo Small Business?
  • Mission - Be leading provider of services that allow small business to successfully sell online.
  • Provide aspirational merchants with the easiest use full service solution
  • Enable established business with a open and scalable platform
  • Enable deep transactional insights to power relevancy that increases customer success
***Note From Shawna***

Listen to our interview with Jimmy Duvall live from Internet Retailer


by: Shawna Seigel



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Andrea Downing, VP, Home Entertainment and Partnerships, PBS

Six Strategies for designing a successful website
  1. Take the time to plan
  2. Get to know your customers
  3. Keep your eye on the competition
  4. Let your customers experience the product
  5. Implement new technologies strategically
  6. Invest in taxonomy
Take the time to plan
  • Define your goals and clearly articulate your vision for the site
  • Examine your customers' on and offline behavior and understand who's shopping on your site
  • Create a 6, 12, 18-month roadmap and stick to it
  • Evaluate and re-evaluate
Get to know your customers
  • Use all brand touch point to inform who your customer is
  • Use online customer insight tools to identify what's working and what's not
  • Talk to customer service employees and get their perspectives
  • Read customer reviews about your brand and products
  • Read customer reviews about your brand and products
  • Look at your site search to see what people are looking for
  • Implement web analytics to give you insight into browsing paths
  • Allow customers co-design your site through direct feedback and usability
  • Talk to your customers through email on a 1 to 1 basis
Keep your eye on the competition
  • Your site experience isn't' just being compared to your direct competitors, but to the entire online world
  • Go shopping...take notes
  • As features move from novelty to mainstream - it's important to include functionality that customer expect and meet your business needs
Let your customers experience the product
  • Products give your site it's competitive advantage
  • Offer excellent product content
  • Provide shopping tools that take the place of a salesperson
  • Focus on photography/video
Use new technologies strategically
  • Review your business needs and ask if they can be met by some of the latest and greatest tools
  • Measure the effect each tool implementation has on key performance indicators
Invest in Taxonomy and Metadata
  • Building blocks for your web site and make browsing and finding products easy for your customers
  • Taxonomy: the ordering of products and content into an understandable hierarchy
  • Metadata: all of the hidden descriptive text and specs about a product or content


by: Shawna Seigel



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As consumers’ love for online video builds, retailers fine-tune their rich media strategies
By Paul Demery

Watching the development of online video as a merchandising, marketing, branding and customer relationship-building tool is like watching a fast-paced movie that mixes fast-forwards to new technology with flashes from the past in the basic rules of marketing.

Tools and strategies are more readily available today than just a year ago for creating and distributing videos on retail e-commerce sites as well as through video-sharing sites like YouTube and a growing number of specialty content portals, where video content can coincide with Buy buttons to drive direct sales as well as support brand marketing campaigns.

“We’re seeing exciting things with video,” says Sarah Gallagher, senior manager of interactive marketing at outdoor sports gear and apparel retailer The North Face. “With more power to use rich media we’re seeing the next phase of how shoppers use the Internet. They have more control over what they view, and video keeps exploding with new uses.”

But turning the latest video technology into an effective way to connect with customers and prospective customers still requires retailers to take a hard look at old-fashioned rules of merchandising and marketing—developing video content that’s useful in helping consumers decide on purchases, for example, and presenting it when and where they’re most likely to want to interact with it.

“We have to make sure this is easy for our customers to use,” says Rich Lesperance, director of web sales and operations at Circuit City Stores Inc. “This is definitely about building repeat visitors and loyalty, and our entire emerging media and company marketing strategy is designed toward that.”

Engaging shoppers

Retailers who have taken careful steps to build out an online video strategy are beginning to better engage shoppers, says Sucharita Mulpuru, principal analyst, retail, at Forrester Research Inc. “When applied properly, online video can be incredibly valuable,” she says.

Phil Schoonover, president and chairman of Circuit City, agrees. “Video is the way people want to receive content,” he says. “Millennials (Americans born between 1980 and 1995) especially want to see videos of what they’re buying.” Video content on CircuitCity.com helped to grow the retailer’s web sales 40%, to $1.4 billion, for the fiscal year ended last month, he says.

Indeed, U.S. Internet users watched more than 10 billion online videos in December alone, according to comScore Inc.’s Video Metrix service. “We’re seeing a surge in people moving away from traditional media to spend more time watching online video,” Lesperance says.

Retailers reacting to that consumer interest by exploring online video’s capabilities are showing some notable successes. Ice.com, a web-only jewelry retailer, has experienced a 40% rise in conversion rates on products highlighted in online videos, says co-founder and president Mayer Gniwisch. And by showing its products on models in videos, which puts the size and appearance of jewelry in a better context for viewers, Ice.com has reduced the return rate on some products by 24%, Gniwisch says.

Strategies for building and deploying online video differ according to the goals of individual retailers. But one thing they have in common is finding a practical way to make online video work within a merchant’s particular retail environment.

Circuit City, for instance, has identified a two-part mission for CircuitCity.com: to serve as an engaging online store to build on its sharp growth in online sales and as a source of consumer education to support multi-channel sales, Lesperance says.

Product tours and demos

It is working with three video program vendors—WebCollage Inc., Easy2 Technologies, and SellPoint Inc.—to present product tours and demos from manufacturers. And it’s developing how-to videos using its own high-definition camcorder to shoot videos of tech staff and salespeople showing, for example, how to add memory to a laptop.

“One of our goals is to bring the customer as close as possible to having an in-store experience without having to leave the house,” says Rob Roy, a video content specialist at Circuit City.

A successful online video program, Lesperance adds, needs to work in an environment that considers information from several teams within a retail organization, including merchandising, marketing and online content management, combined with input from customers about which products could benefit most from video content.

One of the more popular online videos measured by customer usage that Circuit City has deployed, “Installing laptop memory,” features an employee demonstrating how to determine the correct memory card for a laptop, then opening the memory compartment and inserting the card. The idea for producing that video, Lesperance says, came from a customer’s comment in an online forum on CircuitCity.com.

Spending time

The North Face learned about consumer interaction with online video in its stores, where web-based kiosks showing sports lifestyle videos have engaged shoppers for extended periods. “We saw people interacting with kiosks between 20 and 30 minutes,” Gallagher says. “That proved that people want this kind of content.”

Now with more video content on its web site, The North Face has measured a general uptick in traffic, Gallagher says. The company is planning to launch its first e-commerce site this August, and video will play an important role in engaging shoppers, she adds.

Engaging online shoppers with video doesn’t always pan out as expected, however. The launch over a year ago of consumer-generated video at sports gear retailer Evogear.com has resulted in lower than expected participation by customers, who may not want to spend the time and effort to upload their own content, says head of e-commerce Nathan Decker.

But Evogear has followed up with other online video strategies that have been more effective, he says. Last year it realized incremental sales after running a pre-product launch video from ski brand Rossignol, which let viewers pre-order the new models before they hit the market, and it engaged online customers last summer in a weekly videotaped sweepstakes to which shoppers were entered with each web purchase, Decker explains.

And to produce a new twist to video content in customer reviews, it’s planning to videotape customers at its headquarters store talking about their favorite skis and other products.

The levels of effort and cost involved in producing an online video strategy also differ among retailers. At the high end are retailers like Drs. Foster & Smith, which is building its own video production studio to produce high-definition product and educational videos to complement the content customers are accustomed to seeing in its TV programs. HSN.com, the e-commerce site of IAC InteractiveCorp’s Home Shopping Network, is also on the high end, leveraging its connections with TV personalities like chef Wolfgang Puck in several types of video content.

Gordon Magee, manager of Internet marketing and analysis at Drs. Foster & Smith, says the retailer plans to expand its video inventory to hundreds from the fewer than 10 currently on DrsFosterSmith.com. “We will have a ton of videos from how-to’s to things on our company’s history,” he says.

And in keeping with the high level of video quality consumers expect from its “Faithful Friends” TV program, it will produce only high-definition, professional video content, Magee says.

Follow the video

HSN, which presents more than 12,000 videos on its site, uses video in a three-step strategy. First, a “green-screen” technique presents the sole image of a celebrity like Wolfgang Puck—appearing as if he just walked onto the page itself—to initially engage shoppers in the HSN cooking section. That is followed by a video of a lesson in how to create, say, Puck’s Mango Sorbet dessert. Finally, another video explains in detail how to best use products HSN.com sells alongside the videos to help make cooking chores (theoretically, at least) a proverbial piece of cake.

HSN develops its video content with Flash technology from Adobe Systems Inc., then manages placement on its site as well through external sites like YouTube with its Digital Assets Right Technology content management system, developed in house.

HSN won’t reveal the exact impact its videos have on sales, but they produce “a substantial lift,” says William Lynch, executive vice president in charge of marketing and content at HSN.com.

Other retailers take more modest approaches in deploying a video strategy, though the approaches still have several options to consider in technology and support services. Ice.com, which can produce about 50 product videos per day, spends on average about $60 to produce each video, including the $500-per-day cost of hiring models, and the fees it pays to a professional photographer (a photographer who usually does weddings and bar mitzvahs, Gniwisch says) and Internap Network Services Corp., which serves up Ice.com’s Flash video content through its content delivery network. Ice currently has videos for about 500 of its 2,000 product SKUs, though it plans to cover all SKUs with videos this year, Gniwisch adds.

A typical Ice.com product video such as one for a diamond ring priced at more than $2,000 runs 20 seconds and shows the ring by itself as well as on a model as she holds her hand to her face.

To ensure fast loading and quality presentations of videos, Evogear and other retailers also rely on content delivery network services from companies like Akamai Technologies Inc., Lime Wire LLC and Pando Networks. Retailers use basic content management software to manage the placement of videos on their e-commerce sites, though Akamai offers StreamOS, a content management system designed specifically for video.

While product videos on e-commerce sites are having the strongest and most consistent impact on sales at Ice.com and other retailers, video exposure on video-sharing sites also is spiking sales in some campaigns.

Eight videos Ice.com produced last year for Valentine’s Day cost about $1,200 and led to about $200,000 in online sales, Gniwisch says. The ticket to results, he adds, was running a timely campaign designed to attract a lot of attention. In each video, Ice.com executive vice president of marketing Pinny Gniwisch plays “Mr. Cupid” and interviews passers-by in New York and at the Deer Valley ski resort in Utah about what they think are the best and worst Valentine’s Day gifts. Some of the surprising answers, including one from a man who said he should only receive gifts and not give them, have received more than 10,000 views. Each video closes with the attribution, “A Project by Ice.com.”

Building the brand

Retailers are also exploring other ways to extend videos beyond their own e-commerce sites. In a brand-building campaign, The North Face posts sports videos on sports-related community sites like Go211.com and Biglines.com, and it uses Rip.tv to post videos as well as have them distributed to other youth and sports-related web portals. It also places video-enhanced ads on sports-content sites including Gorp.com and FreeSkier.com

In addition, The North Face pushes video content out to customers with widgets on their personal pages on Facebook.com and Google Inc.’s iGoogle.com. The project is tied to search marketing campaigns, which let viewers click into a video-enhanced search ad to insert a widget icon onto their personal web pages for receiving additional video content.

“We then can push snow sports and other videos out to consumers’ Google or Facebook pages,” Gallagher says. The North Face also is working with Fluid Inc., a web site design firm, to develop the ability to track how often users of widgets on Facebook and iGoogle view its videos.

Although she is not yet able to quantify results in traffic to TheNorthFace.com, Gallagher says search and banner ads that include video content have shown a higher than average click-through rate compared with ads without videos. ValueClick Inc., which provides technology for running video ads that lead into non-commercial videos, says video ads have shown click-through rates 10 times as high as banner ads.

HSN recently started working with a new service from Google that lets retailers position product information and Buy buttons on the same web page alongside a video on YouTube.com, following the same mix of marketing and merchandising available on HSN.com’s own pages. It’s another example of how quickly video and e-commerce are evolving, Lynch says.

“Two months ago we were using YouTube just for branding,” he says. “But we think this is the future of e-commerce: Give people better ideas on how to do things in engaging online video, and present all the products they need right on the same web page to make it happen.”

paul@verticalwebmedia.com


by: Shawna Seigel



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Tips from a Small Retailers Perspective
Ryan Douglas – Online Marketing Team Leader PlumberSurplus.com

Where To Begin:

CSE—Comparison Shopping Engine

* There are 15+ CSE’s

* Google Product Search, Pricegrabber, Nextag, Shopping.com, Shopzilla, Smarter, Yahoo Shopping, etc.

CPC—Cost per click

* Flat CPC rates
* Variable CPC rates “bidding” at a category or product level

CPA—Cost per action

* You only pay when the traffic converts


Why Use CSE’s?

* Part of a complete online marketing presence
* Increase traffic and sales
* Leverage “social shopping”


How To Start

It’s like line dancing!

* Getting started is the easy part
* Doing it well is the challenge

What Do I Need?

* Product Data Feeds
* CSE Accounts
* Time and Patience!

Navigating the CSE Landscape

Types of CSE’s

Free CSE’s

* 100% Free!
* The Find, Google, Product Search, Become, MSN Live
* The “No Brainers”

CPC CSE’s

* Bid on products and categories
* Pay for each click, regardless of conversion
* Most common variety

CPA CSE’s

* Pay only when traffic converts
* Better ROI than CPC engines
* Jellyfish, Shopping.com, PriceFight


Plotting a Path

Start with the “No Brainers”

* They are free and can drive decent traffic
* Great learning platform to launch from

Slowly add additional CSE’s

Choosing a Final Destination

What’s your organization’s goal?

* Lower CPA
* Increase sales

Evaluate your progress regularly

* Weekly, monthly, quarterly

Optimization Guide

What you shouldn’t leave home without

* Data Feed requirements
* Product Mapping

Associating your products to shopping categories

* Reporting and Analyzing


The Checklist

Vital to Survive

* Store Information
* Contact information
* Access to product data
* Frequency of updates

It’s ok to not submit every product to every engine!
Are you ready for each season?

Data feed requirements

Enter the Matrix

* Most CSE’s use 15-20 fields
* Every CSE has different needs- download feed spec’s from each one
* Common and uncommon data fields
* File formats

Data feed tools

* Processing and Optimization

Singlefeed, ChannelAdvisor, Channel Intelligence, etc

Product Mapping

* Tell your products where to go
* Spend the time to properly categorize items
* Dewey Decimal System

Reporting and Analyzing

* Conversion code tracking
* Analytics tracking
* Monitor closely—weekly, monthly, quarterly
* Watch your KPI’s—develop targets
* Each CSE behaves differently
* Determine profitability

Closing Tips and Tricks

* Don’t submit every product to paid CSE’s
* Try different bids!
* Add your store logo
* Hackersafe shopping badge
* Try different product titles
* Use Google Product Search if nothing else
* Submit, Analyze, Optimize, Repeat.


by: Shawna Seigel



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Getting them Right with Sam Decker, Chief Marketing Director, Bazaarvoice

Authenticity, Credibility, Relevance

Within the last 2 years, trust in "a person like me" has tripled from 20% to 68% (Edelman)

95% of consumers trust recommendations from friends more than any other source (Forrester)

77% online shoppers use ratings and reviews when purchasing (Jupiter, Aug 2006)

80% of online shoppers place more trust in brands that offer customer ratings and reviews (Vizu / Bazaarvoice, July 2007)

Principles of Effect Reviews
  1. Acquire user generated content
  2. Amplify existing marketing channels
  3. Analyze content, behavior, and results
The Power of User-Generated Content with Zales.com

Customer Review is the most important marketing vehicle we have as retailers
  • Provide important selling points beyond photo and product description
  • Adds third party brand endorsement
  • Provides marketing handle to promote top rated products
  • Enables customers to become Zales expert reviewers
  • Poor ratings uncover budding or potential quality and/or service issues


by: Shawna Seigel



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How, Where, When and Why to use Video to sell products on the Internet with Adam Linquist, Director of Business Development, 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment

The medium itself became the endorsement: "As Seen On TV"
  • A powerful sales statement that implies credibility
  • Professional endorsement and/or "pitchman"
  • Typically, professional level production value
  • Usually, high cost production and distribution
  • Eventual audience "burn-out" of message
As Seen on the Internet
  • Not perceived as a statement of credibility
  • Minimal "professional" endorsement sales strategy
  • Instant distribution opportunity
  • Low production to high production value
  • Can be launched at minimal cost or fully scaled
  • Can push the edge of the envelope
  • Internet connection speeds affect consumer decision to view
The "Newness" of the medium creates Opportunity and Threat
  • Streamed video is still perceived as a "new"
  • Audiences can instantly share favorite ads with friends
  • Social networking and Blogs allow product messages to move around the globe in a matter of days
  • Marketing messages can also be instantly connected to positive or negative feedback
Internet Video Selling - A New Frontier

Rule #1 - The sales dynamic is changing
  • E-tail selling is not the same as bricks and mortar retail "selling"
  • Worldwide comparison shopping can happen in a few minutes
  • Consumer alternative can expand exponentially with a few clicks of a button
  • Consumers can gain instant insight on product or brand experience from others before making a buying decision
Rule #2 - Marketing is still marketing
  • Consumers like to be educated before making a buying decision
  • Most consumers will gravitate to video/sound demonstrations to engage all senses in the decision process
  • Consumers still like to feel good about a purchase decision
  • A good salesperson on video can and will sell "virtually"
Is video right for you?
  • Is your product complicated to understand where video could be break it down into digestible components?
  • Is your product's price point one where explaining unique features and benefits is important to justify value?
  • Can showing your product be entertaining?
  • Is your product sexy?
  • Is your product interesting?
Where do you use video?
  • Home Page
  • Product Pages
  • Info Page
  • Contact Us Page
  • Public Relations Page
  • Social Networks
  • You Tube
  • To make an long extension of a traditional ad
  • Pod Casting
When to do video? NOW
  • The average consumer viewed slightly less than 100 minutes of online video content a month
  • 80,000,000 videos are viewed each day on You Tube
  • 59% of Internet users are viewing at least 1 video per week
  • Nike ad pulled 22,000,000 views
  • Google/Sprint mobile partnership


by: Shawna Seigel



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Desktop widgets, tiny applications that enable a 24/7 link between a consumer’s desktop and an e-commerce site, are connecting customers and merchants like never before
By Bill Siwicki

Earlier this year, clothing merchant Due Maternity was considering ways to foster closer ties with its expectant mother customers. It wanted alternatives to traditional marketing, advertising and other well-worn tactics because those can be very expensive.

This summer, the retailer introduced a tiny, downloadable web application that sits atop a user’s computer desktop. The application graphically renders for a mom-to-be a clock that counts down the time to her due date and provides links to DueMaternity.com for information on pregnancy as well as products, coupons and special offers.

“We needed a way to get our customers coming back to our site. We needed to reach out in a meaningful manner without spamming them with e-mails,” explains Albert DiPadova, vice president of marketing and co-founder of Due Maternity. “You have to give customers something fun to play with these days.”

And so the retailer’s Countdown Widget was born. Due Maternity hired a graphic designer to dream up the look of the desktop application’s clock; in-house technical staff handled the Java programming required, with an assist from a free Yahoo widget-making tool, to create the wee application and link it 24/7 to DueMaternity.com. The e-commerce site continuously feeds data to the application.

During the first 45 days after launch, the application (see page 32) was downloaded around 10,000 times—customers were enticed with a 10% discount on select purchases—and sales directly attributable to click-throughs from the application to the e-commerce site hit $7,500.

The cost? $600. “We’re on track to realize more than $75,000 by the end of the year through traffic driven to the site from the widget,” DiPadova says.

Widgets are no longer just fictional product examples for conversations about hypothetical business scenarios. Quite the contrary; they’re now tiny web applications that can drive real-world business by strengthening the bond between Internet users and Internet content publishers and e-retailers.

A desktop widget appears as a small window about 2 inches by 3 inches to 4 inches by 5 inches and can be minimized and maximized like most applications. A user downloads a widget from a widget creator’s site or a widget aggregator site like Yahoo Widgets or Google Desktop Gadgets, as widgets are sometimes called. Once downloaded and installed, a desktop widget—filled with graphical and textual content and hyperlinks—maintains a connection with its host site, which constantly updates content.

Internet users have a plethora of desktop widgets from which to choose. Interest in using and creating desktop widgets has been on the rise since they arrived on the scene a few years ago. Yahoo Widgets, which launched in 2005, offers more than 4,800 proprietary and third-party desktop widgets. Google Desktop Gadgets, which also launched in 2005, offers more than 9,000, though many are designed specifically for insertion into web pages and require transformation through the Google Desktop platform to operate as desktop widgets. Then there are smaller widget players. For example, yourminis, launched in 2006, offers more than 300.

Because desktop widgets still are relatively new, Internet research firms have only now begun to collect usage data. The number of desktop widget users may be small, but interest is growing, industry observers say. “25% of all 210 million U.S. Internet users knowingly download applications from the web, so desktop widget downloads would be a subset of that,” says Emily Riley, an analyst at JupiterResearch, which, like fellow research and consulting firms, does not yet have hard data on desktop widget use. “So today it’s a small percentage.”

The cost to create a desktop widget can range from $500 to $20,000, depending on desired functionality. “It doesn’t take much, but it requires some technical skill,” says Ray Valdes, research director for web services at research and consulting firm Gartner Inc.

Another type of widget, crafted for placement on any web page, performs similar tasks often with more focused functionality. These web page-based widgets, also known as embeds, are distributed by Internet content publishers and e-retailers to the companies that host blogs, social networks, content sites and other web destinations. The goal is the same: to drive traffic and sales and boost brand awareness for the web page-based widget creators.

When it comes to desktop widgets, though, computer desktops are prime real estate, and space is limited. Computer users typically maintain important documents or spreadsheets, folders with routinely used files, and shortcuts to applications on their desktops. The aim of desktop widgets is to be included among these important items so e-retailers can be just as top of mind as the other items. To accomplish this, e-retailers have to learn how best to entice consumers to download their widgets and give them that prime space, and how to keep consumers interested so they retain the widget after the novelty of these mini-programs wears off.

However, once a widget is firmly planted on a customer’s desktop soil, it potentially can help an e-retailer reap rewards in terms of brand awareness, greater site traffic and increased sales by making the merchant a daily presence with consumers.

Desktop widgets create stronger customer/retailer bonds, increasing the level of engagement between the two, Valdes says. “A desktop widget is based on the notion of interaction and automating tasks. So a widget is providing value by helping a consumer offload a task—such as tracking new products—and giving back to them just-in-time information on an ongoing basis,” Valdes adds.

E-retailers with constantly changing product line-ups or extremely loyal customer bases are prime candidates for widgets, experts say. “Desktop widgets are good for products with routinely changing prices or products with highly anticipated launches, for instance,” Riley says. “Travel is a perfect example, with changing airfares consumers want to monitor. Another example is digital music, where a desktop widget user could see the top downloads of the day and be notified when new releases are expected. And any product that elicits passion from consumers would be a good fit; for example, a teenager who loves buying shoes could use a desktop widget from a shoe retailer to keep track of shoe sales.”

When it comes to consumers, those who spend a lot of time on their PCs and are comfortable with technology, early technology adopters, and avid online shoppers are the likeliest widget users, says Sucharita Mulpuru, senior retail analyst at Forrester Research Inc. “They could range from young customers to affluent, busy shoppers,” she says. “As long as a widget provides relevant content and a shopper is savvy enough with technology, a retailer can expect good usage and traffic.”

The trick, however, is making sure customers use widgets and keep them on their desktops.

“The challenge with widgets is delivering on the promise of automating tasks,” Valdes says. “A consumer has made an investment in time and attention and a marketer has to deliver on the consumer’s expectations. If an e-retailer provides something that is not very useful and is more of an ad, then the impact for the marketer will be negative rather than positive.”

Widget strategy

The whole idea behind desktop widgets is simple: Instead of a user going to a web site, the web site, in part, comes to the user.

“Anybody in e-retailing has to constantly be asking the question, ‘Where is the customer living and what kind of conversation does she expect us to have?’ If she evolves into new conversation spaces, her favorite retailer ought to go with her. Strategically it is critical that you keep up with where she is at,” says Dave Owen, manager of Internet customer relationship marketing at J.C. Penney Co. Inc., which is testing a desktop widget it launched in May. “If she is increasingly spending her time online, and on her desktop with other applications and you want to be part of her life, then that is where you need to be.”

Like Due Maternity, J.C. Penney launched its desktop widget, JCPToday, to cultivate closeness with consumers.

“In regular surveys our customers tell us they want to know about our offers,” Owen says. “She has a job to do—buy the clothing and furniture and other items for the family. And she has to do that in a cost-effective way that includes the right styles and meets her tastes. And she wants us to tell her how to cut through the clutter. The widget is us answering her questions.”

JCPToday is a little larger and more complex than most widgets (see page 28). The top half showcases the latest news, products and sales on J.C. Penney’s e-commerce site; a click on any of the small, horizontal message boxes connects a customer to the relevant page on the site. The bottom half is a weekly calendar that highlights a product of the day; consumers can click on any day of the week to get product information and images without having to leave the widget for the e-commerce site.

JCPToday then goes a step further than many desktop widgets. Users can click on one of two tabs on the right side of the widget to access The Scoop, which extends the width of the widget and shows information on ever-changing topics such as birthstones, and My Stuff, which enables users to change the appearance of the widget and provides a calendar in which users can enter reminders for gift-giving events like birthdays and anniversaries.

J.C. Penney declines to give results of its widget test to date, stating it is waiting until the end of the test phase in the fall. The retailer sent invitations to download the widget to a cross-section of customers on its e-mail list, and it reports thousands have downloaded the application. “We have been very satisfied to see the number of customers using the widget to link to information on a daily basis,” Owen says.

Boosting word of mouth

Clothing and accessories retailer Moosejaw Mountaineering’s strategic goal for its desktop widget, Moosejaw Communicator, is to boost word of mouth and get even tighter with its most valuable customers.

“Customers that download our desktop widget are hands down our most loyal. They are huge believers in the fun Moosejaw Madness culture we create and are an extremely valuable source of word of mouth advertising,” says Jeffrey Wolfe, COO and CFO. “The desktop widget is an invaluable tool for communication and advertising. A widget adopter is a customer for life. Our focus right now is on growing the adopter base.”

Created in house for $15,000, Moosejaw Communicator (see page 29) has so far been downloaded by thousands of customers, Wolfe says. The desktop widget, launched in November, features two primary sections: The Lowdown highlights a deal of the day and Daily Remark features comical content from Moosejaw Madness web pages. Personalization features are on the horizon.

A big advantage

“The desktop widget alerts customers 10 minutes before the rest of the world whenever we launch a new deal of the day. These offers always sell out very quickly so downloading the widget is a big advantage,” Wolfe says. “It also alerts customers whenever new daily remarks and trivia questions are posted. The next step for the widget is displaying our photo of the week, where we feature customers holding up the Moosejaw summit banner in locations around the world.”

Preliminary results are in on Moosejaw Communicator users: They purchase approximately four times more frequently and spend about six times as much money as the average Moosejaw customer.

Strategically speaking, Moosejaw believes widgets will be important in e-retailing’s future. “The ability for a retailer to control real estate directly on a customer’s desktop is revolutionary,” Wolfe says. “The opportunities for driving loyalty and sales are limitless. And I know of no more convenient way to get valuable information to a customer than a desktop widget. Retailers that can consistently grow their widget adopter base faster than the widget attrition rate will enjoy a huge competitive advantage.”

Growing the number of consumers using widgets means developing plans to get them to download the desktop applications in the first place. Moosejaw entices customers to download Moosejaw Communicator with its advance notice of daily deals. Due Maternity lures shoppers to download Countdown Clock by offering product discounts.

To persuade customers to download its widget, unveiled in April, Shop.com is thinking financial perks. The e-retailer is considering offering customers who download its SHOP.COMpanion widget 5% off orders placed during the first 30 days of use along with possible rebates on orders placed through the widget.

SHOP.COMpanion (left), which cost a couple thousand dollars to create in house over the course of one weekend, has received tens of thousand of downloads from the e-commerce site as well as from aggregator Yahoo Widgets, the company reports. The e-retailer promotes the widget in the footer of all its web pages but is not yet making a big push, instead waiting to see how initial use fares.

Constant link

Through its constant link with the e-commerce site, the Shop.com desktop widget enables shoppers to search for products without having to go to the site. The widget displays the top 10 search results accompanied by product descriptions, images and prices. Once a shopper finds an item she wishes to purchase, a click on the product takes her to the site. The e-retailer plans to add functionality to the widget, including wish list and gift registry.

Without enticements, SHOP.COMpanion’s downloads in the tens of thousands show significant interest by consumers. The result has been a small boost in traffic and conversion. “It’s an easy way to search through millions of products, and a bigger boost is coming,” predicts Vince Hunt, vice president of engineering at Shop.com.

Shop.com, Due Maternity, Moosejaw Mountaineering and J.C. Penney report thousands of widget downloads to date. Countless more widgets have been downloaded from all kinds of web sites that span industries and interests. Widgets are without doubt a novelty of great interest to a great many Internet users. The big questions are: What happens when the newness wears off? And what will Internet retailers have to do to ensure customers keep widgets on their desktops and continue to use them?

“It’s one thing to get a customer to download our widget and play with it for a few days. It’s a very different thing to convince them to adopt the Moosejaw widget as a part of their daily routine,” Wolfe says.

One way Moosejaw attempts to keep customers widgeting is through bribery, including advance notice on deals. “We give our customers extra Moosejaw Rewards points,” Wolfe says. “Moosejaw’s customers are always glad to accept a good bribe.”

Moosejaw also believes a significant chunk of desktop widget users will stay on board because the very nature of a widget is something potential users consider to begin with.

“Our customers do not download the widget because it’s a novelty. It’s too annoying to have on your desktop if you don’t truly care about the content,” Wolfe says. “Moosejaw has a cult-like customer base and they want Moosejaw to be part of their daily routine. That’s why they download the tool. And we will always keep the widget content fresh and exciting. We expect retention to be the area where we are most successful.”

First to know

J.C. Penney is using a similar strategy to keep customers using its desktop widget for the long term. For some new products, sales and promotions, widget users get the word first, and it is keeping content ever-changing and fresh, Owen says. “It’s about being the first to know,” he adds. “You can get the information without having to open an e-mail, which is very convenient.”

The retail chain is planning to survey widget users this month to gauge customer satisfaction with the widget and discover what it can do to ensure continued use.

Due Maternity is following a parallel path to Moosejaw and J.C. Penney. “The proposition is download the widget to easily keep track of your due date, but also for special savings,” DiPadova says. “It’s really the special savings that we hope entices customers to download and retain the clock.”

The popularity of widgets has grown exponentially over the past couple years because people want easy access to information and many do not want to dig through search engines, he adds. “We’re looking for ways to use widgets to improve the fun, entertaining aspects of our site,” he says. “Widgets are a way for us to stay entertaining and relevant, which will keep customers coming back for more.”

Gartner’s Valdes, however, says retaining desktop widget users will be a bigger challenge than some may think. “The novelty definitely will wear off, so it’s more tactical not strategic,” he contends. “There is a short-term effect here that retailers can take advantage of. After the novelty wears off, it’s all about how much value there is in that particular widget, how much help it provides a user. For a retailer to get longer term value, they still can exploit the novelty effect but there has to be something of pragmatic value.”

To get and maintain mass adoption will be a challenge; widgets must have a truly compelling value proposition, or an e-retailer must really tap into its most valuable customers, analyst Mulpuru says. “But given that it is not that expensive,” she adds, “if you can get a few thousand customers to download it, and those few thousand make purchases, it can be a good investment.”

Being there

Desktop widgets’ strength, experts say, lies in tapping into the psyche of valuable customers and fostering stronger ties. And e-retailers pioneering widgets hope that stronger ties translate into stronger business.

Getting more consumers to Shop.com and engendering loyalty is the bottom line, says Shop.com’s Hunt. “You need to be where people are,” he says. “Anyplace where people are connected to the Internet, like the desktop, we need to be. And that will drive more traffic and more sales.”

bill@verticalwebmedia.com

Original Article Found at Internet Retailer


by: Shawna Seigel



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E-retailers must invest a lot more to keep customer loyalty
by Don Davis

Each year for the past decade a steady stream of consumers has flowed into the ranks of online shoppers, providing a natural lift for e-commerce. But that stream is slowing noticeably as the pool of consumers who have not shopped online shrinks each year, leaving online retailers with the challenge of increasing sales from existing customers.

Those customers are increasingly experienced, not only at shopping online but also at using the Internet in general. In growing numbers, they watch videos on YouTube, have pages on MySpace or profiles on LinkedIn, rely on reviews from other consumers, and read and post to online forums and blogs.

They expect retail web sites to be as informative and interactive as the rest of the Internet. And they won’t hesitate to click off a site if they don’t find what they want—and that includes not just products and product data, but other information they need to make purchase decisions.

“Historically, they would call in and ask questions, but now they’re not doing that,” says Roy Bielewicz, director of Internet marketing at StylinTrucks.com, a web and catalog retailer of truck accessories. “If they don’t find the information on your site, they’re likely to go somewhere else.”

To meet customers’ rising expectations, online retailers are packing more content into their sites, often using video and other rich media, adding customer reviews and exploring how to use social networks and blogs to promote their brands. Some are addressing the pain points that keep many consumers from making online purchases, ranging from security concerns to font sizes that challenge aging eyes.

These efforts take place as online shopping increasingly becomes a mainstream activity. 49% of U.S. adults had shopped online as of September 2007, according to a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, up from 22% in 2000.

Have money, will shop

Among more affluent Americans, online shopping is even more commonplace. 66% of adults with household incomes between $60,000 and $100,000 and 79% with incomes above $100,000 have purchased on the web, according to the Pew survey, which is conducted by telephone.

And, with each passing year, more consumers become experienced web shoppers. 32% of online shoppers last year had been buying on the web for seven years or more, up from 18% in 2003, according to Forrester Research. By contrast, only 9% of web shoppers last year had been shopping online for less than a year, a sharp decline from 16% just one year earlier. 55% of last year’s newbies were women, Forrester says.

A major driver of e-commerce growth is the extension of broadband connections to more U.S. homes. With broadband, web pages load five to 10 times faster than with dial-up connections, making online shopping more engaging. 58% of all U.S. homes, nearly 68 million households, will have broadband connections by year’s end, up from 48% just two years ago, according to Forrester Research.

Broadband users are more likely than dial-up users to shop online—74% to 59%—and if all dial-up users switched to faster connections the incidence of online shopping would go up by 6%, Pew says. That figures to provide a new source of online shoppers as broadband proliferates in coming years.

As more U.S. homes get broadband, broadband users become more typical of the U.S. population as a whole. One sign of that is the average income of households with broadband declining from $69,000 to $63,000 in the past year, according to a Netpop survey by research firm Media Services LLC. The median U.S. household income was $48,201 in 2006.

The social web

Faster connections at home—and at work for many—have paved the way for millions of consumers to interact with each other, create their own online content and get comfortable with online video. A Pew survey in December 2007 found 48% of Internet users watch web videos, 39% read blogs, 30% post online reviews, and 16% participate in social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook or Friendster.

Those behaviors have big implications for online retailers, says Ken Burke, chairman and founder of e-commerce technology provider MarketLive Inc.

“The No. 1 trend impacting e-commerce is social networking and social computing,” Burke says. “Consumers today are more connected to other consumers, and they trust other consumers. Connected to this is another trend: consumers are looking for web sites they trust.”

Many e-retailers are responding by adding social elements to their web sites, and by reaching out to consumers as they socialize on other web sites. Much of this is new, and in some cases evidence of a sales lift from these initiatives remains sketchy.

Product ratings and reviews may have the best claim to boosting revenue. 82% of consumers surveyed last year by consulting firm Deloitte & Touche LLP said consumer-written product reviews directly influenced their buying decisions, and 69% passed reviews on to others. Pet supplies retailer Petco Animal Supplies Inc. reports that consumers who view web pages with top-rated products convert at a 60% higher rate than other visitors, and that buyers return products with only one to five reviews 135% more often than those with 50 to 100 reviews.

But consumers read reviews critically. In the case of one retailer, products that gained the top rating, five stars, converted at 11 times the rate of unrated products—but four-star products produced 18 times more sales, more than the higher-rated products, says Fiona Dias, executive vice president of partner strategy for GSI Commerce Solutions Inc., which operates the e-commerce business of the unnamed retailer.

“People might be a little skeptical of five-star ratings, thinking that maybe employees or the vendor wrote the reviews,” Dias says. “Four stars was a comfort level where customers think, People like me probably wrote the review.”

Video for all

A strong case can be made that online video can increase sales. Video stands out for its huge audience—116 million U.S. consumers watched web videos in February, according to research firm Nielsen Online. And video is not just for kids. YouTube, a subsidiary of Google Inc. that Nielsen says attracts 60% of video viewers, attracts all age groups: 18% are under 18; 20%, 18-34; 19%, 35-44; 21%, 45-54; and 21%, 55 and older, the company says.

That helps explain the broad response to video from all types of web shoppers. FirstStreetOnline.com, which sells gifts, gadgets and household products aimed at older consumers, last year introduced a weekly video called FirstStreetReports in which a mature man provides non-technical explanations of products First Street sells. Sales and conversion rates on those products went up by double-digit percentages, says Mark Gordon, president and CEO.

Targeting a different demographic, affluent women in their 40s, Saks Direct, the online arm of tony department store Saks Fifth Avenue, realized enough of a sales lift from introducing video interviews with fashion designers last year that Saks.com launched in March a video catalog of 17 ensembles. All the items can be purchased by clicking on the “shop this look” link next to the video window.

Retailers are also making use of other rich media products, such as three-dimensional views of products that allow consumers to view items from all sides. Improvement Direct has in the past year created such 3-D views of more than 3,000 of its best-selling products, boosting conversion rates 20-30%, says Christian Friedland, CEO.

Zoom is a highly valued feature, rated somewhat or very important by 86% of online shoppers with broadband connections, according to a Netpop survey. Zoom is especially important in the clothing & accessories and décor & home improvement categories, Netpop says.

Aiming to provide ready answers to customers’ questions, StylinTrucks.com, the truck accessory retailer, has integrated videos, how-to articles and Frequently Asked Questions pages into site search, and added product reviews. That’s increased the time visitors spend on the site by at least 10%, Bielewicz says.

Customers create content

For Newegg.com, which launched in 2001 as a site primarily selling computer components to video game players, informational content on the site comes largely from customers themselves who post product reviews and ask and answer questions on the site’s community forum. “People will ask, ‘What’s in your system? What graphics card did you use? What power supply? These guys love to talk to each other,” says Bernard Luthi, vice president of merchandising at Newegg.

As evidence, he points to the more than 900,000 reviews posted to the site since its launch, including more than 250,000 in the past year. Newegg is preparing to enable customers to video their reviews and upload them to the site.

While Newegg employees participate in forum discussions, they don’t recommend products. And the company does not measure the value of the forums and reviews by whether they directly drive purchases.

“It’s about getting closer to that customer, making sure we’re giving them every opportunity to give us feedback. That’s what drives our business,” Luthi says. He’s convinced the strategy is working because more than half of new customers are referred by other customers and because the company, which has been one of the fastest-growing online retailers since its launch, grew again by more than 25% last year to $1.9 billion in online sales.

Most of Newegg’s customers are tech-savvy men between 18 and 35. But the challenge of staying close to customers as they use the Internet crosses all demographics, including the mostly women shoppers targeted by eFashionSolutions LLC, which hosts web sites for some 30 fashion and entertainment companies.

Those clients—which include luxury brands like DKNY and Oscar de la Renta as well as more moderately priced marks like baby phat and JLo—find their profit margins challenged by the growing number of consumers who use comparison shopping engines to find the best deals online. Traffic to comparison shopping sites was up 17% in February over the previous year, according to web measurement firm comScore Inc.

Blogger power

Part of the answer is segmenting customers and making them offers based on their preferences, says Ed Foy Jr., CEO of eFashionSolutions. But he also embarked late last year on a strategy of leveraging social networking, by finding consumers who love the brands he supports and who will express their love for DKNY or JLo on social networks and blogs.

That’s part of creating a buzz around those products, which is the best protection against those brands becoming commodity items that can be compared to the many other apparel brands available online. “If it’s a trend setter, it’s not affected by price comparison,” Foy says.

Foy recently experienced the downs and ups of the social web. It began when a consumer attacked one of his clients on a blog over the conduct of an online sweepstakes, feedback he calls “a retailer’s worst nightmare, especially when it’s so transparent to the rest of the world.”

But other customers, including the sweepstakes winner, came to the defense of the brand in subsequent posts, neutralizing the criticism. Experiences like that convince Foy of the importance of identifying and cultivating online brand advocates. That includes making sure their orders are shipped the same day, providing them with special packaging, and sending them thank you notes and gifts.

Teen hangouts

It’s early days for such initiatives, and still hard to calculate return on investment. The same can be said of e-retailers’ efforts to generate sales from the explosively growing social networks, of which the two most important are MySpace and Facebook.

While only launched in 2003 and 2004 respectively, MySpace and Facebook have become as much a part of the life of U.S. teenagers as McDonald’s and iPods. MySpace was the top U.S. Internet site in terms of page views in February, and Facebook was sixth, according to comScore.

But consumers go to these sites to socialize, not shop, data suggests. Only 3% of online shoppers said they used social networks to research purchases in a survey last year by JupiterResearch. And ads on these sites generate relatively few clicks: the average cost of an order from an ad on a social network site was a hefty $50.11, compared with $19.33 for paid search and $6.85 for e-mails to customers, according to a retailer study this year by Forrester Research and online retailer association Shop.org.

Retailers can create their own pages on MySpace and Facebook, and both sites have in the past year made it possible for retailers to distribute shopping applications that consumers can add to their own profile pages. But retailers do not seem to have struck gold.

Newegg created pages on both MySpace and Facebook because “we heard from our customers that’s an area where they live on a daily basis,” Luthi says. Sales from those sites remain small, though growing, and the conversion rate of clicks from MySpace and Facebook is slightly higher than average, he says.

Zazzle, an online retailer that lets consumers create customized items such as t-shirts, tote bags and mugs, launched applications last fall designed to drive traffic from MySpace and Facebook pages to Zazzle. But that approach is not effective because consumers have little incentive to interrupt their socializing to shop, says James Heckman, chief strategy officer at Zazzle.

The real opportunity is to micro-target social networkers, taking advantage of the information they provide themselves, such as their favorite bands, sports teams and movies, says Heckman, who came to Zazzle from MySpace parent company Fox Interactive Media where he helped craft a $900 million search and advertising deal between MySpace and Google.

“If you’ve got a 16-year-old girl whose favorite band is the Beatles, you can advertise a woman’s shirt that’s stylish for a teenager with a Beatles logo,” says Heckman. “How great is that?”

That opportunity is especially inviting for Zazzle, which Heckman says has created merchandising relationships with over 15,000 music groups that would allow consumers to customize items with images and logos of those bands on the Zazzle site. Zazzle has begun testing such ads targeted to MySpace and Facebook users based on their profiles, and click-through rates are more than 10 times higher than on conventional ads, Heckman says. If the test proves successful, Zazzle will expand the micro-targeting program by the third quarter, he says.

By moving beyond static ads, Zazzle is thinking about social networks in the right way, says Donna Hoffman, co-director of the Sloan Center for Internet Retailing at the University of California-Riverside. “You have a community of like-minded people that have self-identified as interested in certain things and you have an opportunity to be in front of them in ways that have meaning for them,” Hoffman says.

Boomers and beyond

While users of MySpace and Facebook skew toward the young, there are also growing opportunities for online retailers among older consumers. Among Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, 42 million shop online; among consumers born before 1946, 12 million shop online, according to Focalyst LLC, a joint venture of AARP Services Inc. and Kantar, a group of research and consulting firms.

And, at least among older consumers with above-average incomes, online shopping is growing. 65.6% of those over 50 with income of $50,000 or more said they had made at least one Internet purchase in the past year in a 2007 survey by research firm The Media Audit, up from 50.2% in a 2004 survey.

Aiming to make online shopping easier for those consumers, ShopPBS.com last year added icons that enable visitors to increase the font size of text on product pages. Elderluxe.com, which caters to wealthier older consumers, has moved much of the detail about each item to the main product page so visitors “don’t have to work to get to it,” says Patrick Conboy, founder and president.

While many consumers worry about the privacy of data they provide to web sites—even those who shop online—older shoppers are more worried than most. 82% of those 65 and older agree or strongly agree that they don’t like to give their credit card or personal information to web sites, compared with 79% in the 50-64 age range, 74% of those 30-49 and 71% of consumers 18-29, according to the Pew survey.

FirstStreetOnline puts the HackerSafe and VeriSign security certification symbols on every page and provides easy access to the company’s privacy policy, mission statement and management profiles. “That shows we’re a real company with real people and they can trust us,” says CEO Gordon. Elderluxe also displays HackerSafe and Better Business Bureau logos—and still about 25% of customers 65 and older call to place orders, rather than entering credit card information online, Conboy says.

While especially troubling to older consumers, 75% of all Internet users have some concern about providing personal or payment information online. Eliminating that concern could increase the percentage of online adults who shop via the web from 66% to 73%, the Pew report projects, suggesting that any retailer can boost sales by inspiring trust in visitors.

A world of opportunity

Another way U.S. online retailers can increase sales is by reaching out to the growing number of online consumers outside of North America. The global Internet user population grew 265% from 2000 to 2007 to 1.3 billion consumers, more than 1 billion of them outside of North America, according to Internet market research firm Miniwatts Marketing Group.

Many of those consumers are savvy enough to find online-only U.S. toy retailer Ty’s Toy Box, whose selection includes a number of exclusive or hard-to-find items based on such popular cartoon shows as Doodlebops and Caillou. Without a major marketing push, international orders have grown from 2% of Ty’s sales in 2003 to 13% last year, says Ty Simpson, CEO.

Using carrier DHL he delivers products abroad within three days, and believes that reliable delivery has led to more sales. “They’re confident they’ll get their product,” Simpson says. “That’s a big part of why it grows. Consumers are coming back.”

Even with the proliferation of comparison shopping sites, search engines and new online competitors, e-retailers that meet consumers’ expectations can keep them coming back. 48% of traffic to e-commerce sites in March and 67% of sales came from consumers who typed in a retailer’s URL or clicked on a bookmark, says web analytics firm Coremetrics Inc.

Consumer loyalty is not dead, it’s just that online retailers have to do more today to earn it.

don@verticalwebmedia.com

Who’s not online

110 million U.S. adults do not shop online. Who are they?
  • 55 million U.S. adults do not use the Internet.
  • Nearly 36 million (74%) adults 62 and older do not shop online.
  • About 12 million Internet users do not shop online for fear of providing personal or payment information to web sites.
  • Consumers with dial-up Internet connections at home are less likely to shop online than those with broadband connections (59% versus 74%). That means 34 million dial-up users as well as 21 million consumers with broadband do not shop online.
  • Minorities are less likely to shop online:
  • 17 million African-American adults (59%) do not shop online
  • 19 million Hispanics (58%) do not shop online. Among Hispanics, language proficiency is a key indicator of Internet use. Only 32% of Spanish-dominant Hispanics use the Internet, versus 78% who are English-dominant and 76% who are bilingual.
Original Article Found at Internet Retailer


by: Shawna Seigel



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Internet Retailer Does Not See Recession

NEWSWIRE) -- Buy.com(r), the Internet Superstore(tm), today announced record profits for the first quarter of 2008 of $1.4 million compared to $568k in the first quarter of 2007. This reflects Buy.com's sixth consecutive profitable quarter.

"Based on consumer spending on Buy.com, we do not see any evidence of an economic downturn -- instead, consumers are looking to the site as a one-stop shopping destination for the best deals on millions of products," said Neel Grover, CEO and President of Buy.com.

"As we continue to see gas prices skyrocket around the country, more consumers are realizing they can get their products with free shipping online at Buy.com without ever leaving their home," said Jeff Wisot, VP Marketing of Buy.com.

About Buy.com

Buy.com is a leading e-commerce company with more than 11 million customer accounts, focused on providing its customers with a rewarding shopping experience and a broad selection of high-quality technology and entertainment retail goods at competitive prices. Buy.com offers millions of products in a range of categories, including consumer electronics, computer hardware and software, cell phones, books, music, videos, games, digital music downloads, toys, bags, home and outdoor, baby, jewelry, shoes and sporting goods. Founded in June of 1997, Buy.com is located in Aliso Viejo, California. Buy.com(r) and The Internet Superstore(tm) are trademarks of Buy.com Inc. Buy.com currently competes with a variety of companies that can be divided into two broad categories: (i) retailers and ecommerce marketplaces such as Amazon.com, eBay and Wal-Mart and (ii) specialty retailers or manufacturers such as Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Circuit City and Dell.


***Note From Shawna***

Make sure to read our post Eye-Opening Information - Surviving the Recession


by: Shawna Seigel



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From Rahmon Coupe, CEO, YourAmigo

What is Web 2.0?
  • The use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notability, collaboration among users
  • Social networking sites, blogs, wikis, folksonomies
  • User generated content
  • E-Commerce product reviews
Compared to product pages, adding additional customer review pages gave the following results through organic for customers:
  • 18% more unique visitors
  • 12% more conversions
  • Brought in long tail traffic
  • Converted at 66% of the rate of product pages
Only 55% of products had corresponding review pages, so visitors and conversions could be higher, and should increase over time.

Top 4 most frequent keywords driving traffic to product review pages
  1. Reviews
  2. Review
  3. Best
  4. Ratings
Your Seo Recipe for the Long Tail
  • Create a content rich site to attract qualified traffic
  • Long tail is about individual pages
  • Whole Site Optimization
  • Gap Analysis - new content creation
  • Create 1000's of NEW optimized, keyword-rich pages
  • Scalability
Long Tail Case Study Month of April 2008 - Etailer 3,000 products - home and garden vertical (stats do not include home page)
  • 505,000 unique search phrases used to find these products
  • 945,000 total search phrases used
  • Average unique search phrase used 1.87 times in the month
  • 458 unique search phrases were used to land on the highest traffic page
  • Top 100 popular unique search phrases
Extending the Long Tail
  • Consider all possible relevant search queries (Gap Analysis)
  • Build extensive NEW keyword-rich pages, optimized around popular search terms
  • Create thousand of "sub-sub-category" pages
  • YourAmigo calls this "Search Engine Enhanced Content" SEEC
  • More content - More Keywords - More potential traffic


by: Shawna Seigel



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Retailers are looking to web sales for growth in 2008
By Kurt Peters

At The Talbots Inc., the web represents 10% of sales but accounted for 68% of sales growth in 2007.

At office supplies retailer Staples Inc., web sales accounted for 29% of all sales but 58% of Staples’ 2007 growth.

At Circuit City Stores Inc., December sales were down 10% and comparable store sales were down 12.2% while the company was expecting to report 40% growth in online sales for the year. It appears that all of 2007’s growth at Circuit City will come from its web site.

And at Gap Inc., 2007 sales were virtually unchanged from 2006, while online sales were up 24%.

These chains illustrate the new reality facing retailers: The Internet is the engine of growth, especially this year as it appears increasingly likely that the U.S. economy is in a recession. “The Internet today is one of the few opportunities for retailers to capture sales growth and market share,” says Robert Antall, CEO of Cleveland-based retail consultants Lake West Group. “A lot of my clients are looking to the web as an opportunity to salvage the year.”

More heavy lifting

Retailers thus will be forced to look long and hard at their Internet investments and how to make the Internet perform more heavy lifting this year—even if they are heavily invested in the Internet already. Gaiam Inc. is a good example of what retailers are doing. It cut back catalog circulation as the result of higher production and postal costs and focused on beefing up its web site with a new e-commerce platform from MarketLive Inc. last November, new site search from Endeca Technologies Inc. that will be live in a couple of months, customer reviews from BazaarVoice Inc. and product videos. “With this economy, it’s been tough across the board so we are pouring money into our online initiative this year,” says Jason Marshall, vice president of Gaiam Direct.

Gaiam is only one retailer recognizing that an Internet strategy will be more important this year than ever before. Women’s apparel retailer Talbots’ e-commerce sales rose by 21.2%, $40.5 million, in 2007 from 2006, to $231.2 million from $190.7 million, while total sales rose 2.7%, $60 million, to $2.29 billion from $2.23 billion. Meanwhile, same-store sales were down 5.5%.

Staples’ online sales were up 14.3%, $700 million, to $5.6 billion from $4.9 billion while total sales were up 6.6%, $1.21 billion, to $19.37 billion from $18.16 billion. Comparable store sales fell 3%.

If Circuit City is able to deliver full year sales comparable to the year before—and that’s an if, given that nine-month sales were down 4.5% compared to the year before—that will mean the only growth for the 1,400-store chain will come from the web. Circuit City is experiencing a “massive shift,” in CEO Philip Schoonover’s words, from the store to the web.

Gap’s 2007 sales were $15.8 billion, down a tad from $15.9 billion the year before. Online sales, though, reached $903 million from $730 million the year before.

New online competition

A number of reports from companies that measure Internet performance confirm that the Internet is growing in importance to consumers:

l The share of Internet traffic to retail sites this year through the first week in March grew each week from 16% to as high as 24% compared to the same weeks a year earlier, reports Internet traffic measurement company Hitwise. By comparison, share to retail sites in each of three previous years was essentially the same as it had been in each prior year. “Each year we see a slowdown in share to retail sites following the holidays; this year we are not seeing that,” says Heather Dougherty, director of research. “That’s a good sign for online retailers.”

l In a survey of 1,642 online shoppers at the end of February, comparison shopping site Shopzilla found that while the economy is making shoppers curb their activity, with 58% of consumers saying they are shopping less often, 55% are looking for more deals online than they were a year ago.

l Nielsen Online reports that unique visitors to the mass merchandise category of online retailers grew from 84.31 million in February 2007 to 89.26 million in February this year.

“Consumers continue to have the attitude that the Internet is the place to go for better prices and a greater selection” Dougherty says. “That will only grow when people are tightening their belts.”

The growing importance of the Internet means that every retailer who relies on the Internet for sales will face more competition online as the year progresses. “Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen more bricks-and-mortar jewelry stores open web sites,” says Neil Kugelman, CEO of online jeweler Goldspeed.com. “They’re bidding on many of the same keywords that we bid on at search engines and that has driven up our costs.”

The result, he says, is that Goldspeed’s management is spending more time refining its marketing strategy. Among the approaches Goldspeed can no longer take is to automatically outbid any retailer on important keywords. The reason: Bricks-and-mortar retailers new to online selling are looking for quick volume and so will bid up keyword prices to stay toward the top of search results—while failing to understand the nuances of search engine marketing. “Usually we see that kind of competition for keywords at Christmas, but we’ve seen some terms go up 20% since Christmas,” Kugelman says.

The competition for keywords is forcing Goldspeed into other kinds of advertising, including beefing up its affiliate network, looking again at geographically targeted radio and TV advertising, and stepping up its presence in airline magazines.

More precise targeting

The slowing economy will also force e-retailers to target their core markets more precisely. Online spending by households with higher incomes grew faster last year than spending by households with lower incomes, reports comScore Inc., which tracks consumer use of the Internet. Households with income over $100,000 spent 28% more online last year than the year before, while those with $50,000 to $100,000 spent 17% more and those under $50,000 spent 10% more. “That tells me there is an economic issue at work in online shopping,” says Gian Fulgoni, president of comScore.

Segmentation will thus become an important part of an Internet strategy this year. And while many retailers have segmented their customer bases, most don’t do it often enough. “It’s easy for marketers to segment their customer lists, but then many live with the results a little too long,” says Tiffany Riley, senior vice president of marketing at MarketLive. “They need to take stock of what’s happening in 2008; they can’t rest on their laurels from 2007.”

But basic site enhancements are also important. The state of the economy has pushed Gaiam to speed up implementation of improvements, Marshall says. The company is implementing customer reviews and ratings faster than it had expected to. Just last month it decided to implement product videos on its web site, and the first went up by the end of the month. “We’re hoping that will increase our conversion rates pretty quickly,” Marshall says.

In addition to such enhancements as Gaiam is undertaking, retailers should pay attention to merchandising, especially looking at ways to re-merchandise existing products, says Jay Sullivan, head of Internet strategy at MarketLive. She cites the case of a gift basket retailer where the average ticket was $175. “We wanted them to make sure the customer saw the full depth and breadth of their products,” she says. “We encouraged them to make some of their price points under $50 and even under $25.”

Quick inventory expansion

In addition to front-end enhancements and marketing, the back-end will also become more important as retailers compete for the online customer. In addition to the always-true practice of making sure inventory, fulfillment and shipping are up to par, this might be the time to consider expanding inventory as a means to capture more customers and sales, Dougherty says. “Online retailers have a lot more options than offline retailers because it’s easier to put products on a virtual shelf than on an actual shelf,” she says.

One of the biggest advantages that having a strong online presence provides, according to some experts, is the ability to react quickly to market developments. “An online operation gives you an edge in your ability to see trends and move very quickly,” Kugelman says. “We can put an image on the site and see immediately whether people will buy that item.”

Other back-end elements that should receive attention are basic picking, packing, shipping and customer service. “Many of the big chains have outsourced those operations and some have orphan warehouses where they process Internet sales,” Antall says. “They need to get serious about how to operate those efficiently and cost effectively.”

Retailers should also be looking overseas, a path that most U.S. retailers, for a variety of reasons, have been reluctant so far to take. “The weak dollar has made American goods much more attractive to overseas consumers,” Kugelman says. “We’re doing a very large business in Europe and the Persian Gulf.”

The bottom line is that the economic factors that have developed in the past six months add up to opportunity for online sales. The question is: Can retailers take advantage of that? “Most retailers are not very good at change,” Antall says.

But the good news is that some very large retailers have blazed the trail and others can take inspiration from them. “Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target have all done a really good job of making the transition to online,” Antall says. “Even pure-play e-commerce retailers should keep an eye on them.”

kurt@verticalwebmedia.com

Original Article Found at Internet Retailer


by: Shawna Seigel



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By Rob Wright CEO Channel Intelligence

5 Keys to Success

1. Recognize that shopping engines are different than search engines.

Shopping engines are search engines that focus on product searches

-Search engines are keyword focused

-Shopping engines are product focused

-Shopping engines are no longer focused on price comparisons

2. Invest in accurate, complete product content that is customized for each shopping engine.

Just as quality keywords are key to success with search engines, quality product content is the key to success with the shopping engines

-Product identifiers to match up products

-Large images so consumers can look at products before clicking through

-Keyword rich product names and descriptions so consumers can find products

-Products categorized into each shopping engines classification

-Attributes so consumers can find products via guided navigation

3. Spend on products that matter on shopping engines that deliver

Advertise only on products that deliver on your goals.

-Shopping engines make it easy to advertise a lot of products, but difficult to determine which products are the right ones to advertise.

4. Measure results accurately

A retailer will have multiple touch points with a consumer during the buying process. Make sure the shopping engines are getting credit for their contribution to the sale.

-Shopping engines do an excellent job of advancing the buying decision because they provide:

* Product and retailer reviews
* Product information
* Price comparisons
* Retailer comparisons

-You should know which programs contribute to and/or convert sales.

5. Decide whether to manage in-house or use an agency

Managing in-house gives you more program control, but less expertise.

If you choose to use an agency, here are answers to expect from the agency.

* -What percentage of the traffic from your data feed to Shopzilla actually came from Shopzilla.com?
* -Which shopping engine had the highest conversion rate for evening gowns last month?
* -How has Google Product Search changed their feed specs within the last two weeks?
* -How many new categories has Shopping.com added over the past 30 days?
* -How does your Return on Ad Spend on the shopping engines compare to your peers?

Summary of the 5 Keys to Success

1. Recognize that shopping engines are different than search engines

2. Invest in accurate, complete product content that is customized for each shopping engine.

3. Spend on products that matter on shopping engines that deliver

4. Measure the program accurately

5. Decide whether to manage in-house or use an agency


by: Shawna Seigel



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