Archive for the 'e-commerce' Category

E-Commerce Update 6/17/07

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

Two stories from the E-commerce world that I thought were interesting.

The first story from today’s NY Times alarmingly discusses the fact that E-commerce growth has slowed greatly in the past year. E-commerce as a whole will only be about 5% of total retail sales and is expected to grow to about 7%. This trend does not surprise me at all.

In the past, E-commerce grew because we had all of these players entering the field, trying out some new paradigm changing business model and watching what would stick. We saw clever business models, such as Amazon and not so clever ones.

But what goes hand in hand with a business model and what I think many online retailers initially ignored is that E-commerce works when there is a need that can’t be fulfilled or is hard to fulfill in a local store. Think about it, to shop online, you need to log on, then research a couple of stores, then choose your items and put them in the shopping cart and then reach for your credit card and checkout. Oh, and lets not forget the tracking and waiting for the shipment. Tasks that are time consuming.

In addition, E-commerce sites have to fight the perception that they are more expensive that traditional retailers because of shipping prices. As I’ve noted before, the most effective E-commerce promotion is Free Shipping.

Because of the perceptions of time and expense, E-commerce is indeed a different animal than a traditional retail store. In the E-commerce B2C sector where I worked, our best sellers time and time again, were the hard to find items that weren’t usually stocked anywhere else. And let’s not forget the sales we had from some sweet, sweet Search Engine Optimization. (Indeed, just because we were first in the search engine result pages for certain keywords, we got sales.) In addition, we always saw spikes around the gift-giving holidays for third party ship to orders.

The other interesting trend for the larger retailers is the local store pick up option, which definitely makes sense if you’re comparison shopping for a specific item and need it immediately.

Getting a little bit more technical, I was intrigued by this article in EWeek chronicling the dilemma that E-commerce sites have when testing credit card systems. The article states that many sites use old customer data to test merchant systems, which is scary.

You see the conundrum is that the merchant payment gateways don’t provide test data for retailers and if you’re testing real time card processing systems - online as well as offline, you want to see where the data goes (in this case where the money goes) before taking your systems live.

There are dummy credit card numbers you can use to test your systems, so you can see the numbers go through the gateway system but these are invalid numbers which won’t test bank processing.

[tags]E-commerce, ecommerce, online retailing, Internet retailing, Free Shipping [/tags]

‘Tis the Week for Holiday Shopping 2006

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

This will be the busiest week of the online shopping season 2006. The UPS Ground shipping deadline is Friday, December 15th and Monday, December 18th, will be the busiest day of the season for the US Postal Service with over 280 Million First Class Cards and Letters to be sent.

In that vein, I received an email over the weekend from Amazon Associates (I had signed up long ago for the program) and there are two interesting tidbits of news from the largest online retailer.

First, the last day for Amazon Super Saver Shipping is Friday, December 15th to receive gifts by Friday, December 22nd. No word on any special expedited shipping services for those procrastinators out there.

However, Amazon Associates are being told to pimp the Amazon Gift Certificate. These gift certificates have a 6% referral fee and they can be sent through email, an e-card or snail mail.

With this emphasis on the gift certificates, I am wondering if Amazon got burned on their late expedited shipping offerings last year.

[tags]ecommerce, e-commerce, UPS, USPS, Amazon, oh boy am I glad I am not working e-commerce this holiday season [/tags]

Only 7 more weeks until Christmas!

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

And with that news, the UPS 2006 Holiday Calendar has been released.

[tags]e-commerce, ecommerce, online shopping, holiday shipping, UPS[/tags]

Holiday 2006 - First USPS shipping deadlines

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

While I’m not quite living the active e-commerce life anymore (serving as an advisor this holiday season), I wanted to note that the USPS 2006 Military and International Holiday Shipping schedule has been released.

The first major shipping deadline for Holiday 2006 is November 13th, 2006 for Military Parcel Post Mail.

Have fun, my e-commerce friends!

[tags]e-commerce, ecommerce, online shopping, holiday shipping, USPS[/tags]

Amazon aStore

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

Amazon is now offering a method to Amazon Associates allowing one to build a standalone store that one can embed or link to rather than just embedding individual Amazon items on a Web page. This concept is called Amazon aStore. It’s still in beta, but here’s the Amazon’s aStore beta demo.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Amazon Associate concept, here’s a blogger’s eye view of it.

[tags]Amazon, Amazon Affliate, aStore, e-commerce, online shopping[/tags]

Sunday morning Web 2.0 review

Sunday, August 20th, 2006

Yet another Web 2.0 aggregation post

-First find of the week is Seth Godin’s Web 2.0 Traffic Watch List which predictably enough, tracks traffic trends of Web 2.0 sites. Upon reviewing the list, some of the sites I’ve heard of and even use, but there’s plenty more that I had no idea existed. I’m sure this list will keep me busy for a while.

-Second, is Crowdstorm, which bills itself as a social shopping site - much like Amazon’s user recommendations and ratings. It’s in beta and I received an invite to join. The two hurdles that Crowdstorm needs to overcome is that a)obviously, it needs more users to be effective and b)it seems to be UK oriented at the moment (note the kelkoo reference) so I am not sure if it’s intended for a US audience. The Crowdstorm admins may want to tag their site with “The best UK social shopping” or whatever they prefer.

One other item of note, I like the crowdstorm site design - they could actually go a little wider on the body of site. Perhaps make the thumbnails a little larger and the text bigger - although I’m wondering if they are trying to allow for mobile device viewing. And for the cool factor, their markup is XHTML Strict - even using PNGs for the images.

[tags]Web 2.0, Web 2.0 traffic, alexadex, crowdstorm[/tags]

Froogle failure to find fortuitous fortune

Saturday, August 12th, 2006

I orginally wrote this as a comment on a TechCrunch post, but realized that there were a few more things I wanted to riff about.

If you didn’t realize it, Google removed the Froogle link from their front page and replaced it with Google Video. While some people are making a big deal of it, I really think this move is related to the YouTube phenomenon and also the fact that most product searches start at the search engine and not necessarily at a supposed shopping search engine.

Three points to consider:

1)Froogle listings are still showing up at the top of SERPS. Panasonic Video Camera, Scandinavian Office Chair, and half carat diamond ring. (I have expensive tastes.) I don’t know if this matters, but I was logged into Google when I saw these results.

2)If you’re a retailer and you are listed in Froogle, then you will see referrers from Froogle, as long as your price point is a)reasonable and b)reasonably low. In my experience, despite the Froogle listings, I still have seen many, many more referrers from Google’s natural search than Froogle. As any online retailer knows, competing on price point alone is an [expletive deleted].

3)Natural search still rules product referrers. Wasn’t Battelle who said that 60% of all e-commerce transactions start at the search engine?

Over the past year and half or so, I’ve thought that Google was going to push retailers and such from natural search to paid Froogle inclusion or Google Base or Google AdWords, now with Froogle getting off of the front page links, I’m wondering if this isn’t Google tacitly acknowledging that there’s much more e-commerce traffic in natural search. And if there’s traffic in natural search then shouldn’t Google’s corporate push be towards Google AdWords and Google Base, not to mention Google Checkout?

Also, pertaining to Google products in trouble, is it just me or am I just not seeing result for products in Google Base in Google SERPS?

[tags]Google, Google SERPs, Froogle, AdWords, Google Base, Google Video, ecommerce, e-commerce, marketing, e-commerce marketing[/tags]

How e-commerce will be affected by IE 7

Tuesday, June 20th, 2006

Something interesting I learned today, IE 7 is going to have this capability to show whether a site has what is called a “high assurance SSL certificate”. If the site has the high assurance SSL certificate, then the address bar is green, if the certificate lookup doesn’t complete or totally fails, then the address bar changes color. Here’s a few screenshots and yes, other browsers are going to adopt similar behaviors.

This new development is going to screw those who self sign SSL certs on their Web sites. Also, you’re going to have to make sure that the registrar you use is a Certificate Authority (like these guys) who adhere to the official High Assurance Standard as yet to be determined from the CA Browser forum. (Side note: Am I missing something? Why can’t I find a CA Browser Forum Web site?)

Related: WSJ.com Seeking A Safer Internet

[tags] Security, Web, Web Safety, E-commerce, Marketing, Web Marketing, Microsoft, Phishing, Browsers, Web Browsers, SSL, High Assurance SSL, Certificate Authority [/tags]

quickie ecommerce stat

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006

A quickie ecommerce stat from Marketing Sherpa…44.9% of e-commerce sites saw a 20% increase in order levels in 2005, the rest had a lower growth rate (36.6%) or were flat (12.3%) or were down (5.9%). [Page 3 of pdf].

[tags]ecommerce[/tags]

ecommerce update 4/24/06

Monday, April 24th, 2006

Two things about e-commerce related items.

First, I will show my bias and announce that I love, just love the design of jcrew.com. Clean, simple design that evokes their brand.

Secondly, the New York Times had an article about a new shopping search engine cum wiki powered review site called ShopWiki. ShopWiki is in beta (good grief their crawler has been around for at least the last 6 months) and the idea is that users will posts reviews of products, it is these reviews in addition to the usual shopping comparision site features which is supposed to make this site unique.

Third, I think I may have mentioned this site before, but here’s roosster, a site that aggregates a number of RSS categories, including shopping deals announced via RSS. Roosster deals RSS feeds

[tags]ecommerce, online shopping, wiki, search engine, web design, RSS [/tags]

ebay featuring custom RSS search feeds

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

Via a posting on WebmasterWorld, ebay is featuring custom RSS search feeds. So, in theory, you’ll be able to track listings on ebay via RSS.

A poster on WebmasterWorld pointed out that this new feed functionality will probably encourage more “made for AdSense” sites, presumably since RSS is easier to display on a Web page than a full blown API. However, you would think that ebay would have some sort of non-commercial TOS tied to the RSS feed.

I’m wondering if this development from ebay will encourage other online retailers to feature RSS product feeds for individual use.

[tags] RSS, ebay, ecommerce, e-commerce, marketing [/tags]

Tracking travel deals with RSS

Sunday, January 29th, 2006

Today’s Sunday NY Times has an article on tracking travel deals via RSS, rather than relying on promotional email newsletters.

While not all sites allow you to track specific fares to destinations, the idea of even tracking promos via RSS is pretty neat. The article explains in simple detail how to aggregate RSS feeds via a customized My Yahoo page.

RSS is slowly becoming more useful to the consumer - it’s not just for “news articles” anymore.