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Archive for August 2009

Online Retailers Focus On Checkout To Increase Sales, According To State Of Retailing Online Companies Hope Shipping Changes Lower Cart Abandonment

Online Retailers Focus On Checkout To Increase Sales, According To State Of Retailing Online
Companies Hope Shipping Changes Lower Cart Abandonment

Cambridge, Mass., July 15, 2009 . . . When it comes to how people buy online, retailers are paying as much attention to how the shopping experience ends as to how it starts. According to “The State Of Retailing Online 2009: Merchandising Report,” conducted by Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR), which surveyed 117 respondents, this year retailers plan to focus heavily on improving customers’ checkout experience. Companies will also place an emphasis on image enhancement located on product detail pages and site search filters to aid shoppers more easily in their search. The report will be released this morning at Shop.org’s Online Merchandising Workshop in San Diego. “In today’s economy, retailers need to be one step ahead, especially when it comes to attracting shoppers who have money to spend,” said Executive Director of Shop.org Scott Silverman. “Companies are investing in their Web sites to set them apart from their competition and make the shopping experience informative, efficient, and even fun.” Retailers Focus On Transparency Of Shipping Charges, Checkout Experience According to the survey, eight out of 10 retailers (79 percent) said enhancing the checkout process was on the top of their to-do lists for the remainder of the year, with 90 percent of medium-sized retailers* listing checkout as a top priority. The largest initiative in this area among retailers seems to be an emphasis on shipping, with retailers specifically increasing the transparency around shipping charges to reduce shopping cart abandonment. According to the survey, 88 percent of retailers will focus on providing more shipping information within the next year, including such details as when a customer can expect to receive a package and information about when products have left the warehouse. In addition, two-thirds of retailers (67 percent) said they would pay special attention to calculating the loaded cost of an order prior to checkout. “Retailers realize that, particularly during an economic downturn, shoppers who understand shipping charges at the beginning of the checkout process are less likely to abandon their purchases,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, Forrester Research vice president, principal analyst, and lead author of the report. In an era of tight budgets, the increased focus on checkout is balanced by a somewhat lessened focus on home page improvements, with 60 percent of companies saying they would concentrate on improving their home page, down from previous years. According to the report, retailers have learned that many shoppers bypass the home page altogether because comparison shopping engines and search engines often direct them to specific pages on retailers’ Web sites instead. As a result, retailers are focusing more on product detail pages and search results pages. Companies Prioritize Image Enhancement On Product Detail Pages With customers wanting as much information as possible before buying, retailers continue to enhance the quality of information on product detail pages. According to the survey, retailers will focus on adding alternative images of products (50 percent), zoom, and color or fabric swatches (31 percent) this year. Retailers are also relying on shoppers themselves to provide key information on product detail pages. According to the survey, more than half of retailers (60 percent) use customer ratings and reviews, and 55 percent of companies will make ratings and reviews a priority for the coming year. In addition, 34 percent of companies will incorporate automated recommendation tools by third parties for their site. In addition to improving detail on current pages, retailers are adding new pages to their sites to better accommodate shoppers on a budget. According to the survey, 89 percent of retailers say that they are introducing sale or clearance pages to their sites in the coming months. Retailers Invest In Search Capabilities To Help Shoppers Find Products Many online shoppers have specific items in mind, and retailers are paying special attention to site search features to make customer searches easier. According to the survey, nearly three-quarters of retailers (73 percent) plan to add different skins or filters to their search functions, which would enable shoppers to choose multiple attributes like brand, color, price, and size to their site search. In addition, 41 percent of retailers surveyed said they are evaluating introducing an entirely new search engine to their Web sites. “The State Of Retailing Online 2009: Merchandising Report” is currently available to Shop.org members and can also be purchased directly at http://www.shop.org/soro. Forrester clients will be able to access the report directly on http://www.forrester.com as part of their subscription service starting on August 14, 2009.

About Forrester Research

Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) is an independent research company that provides pragmatic and forward-thinking advice to global leaders in business and technology. Forrester works with professionals in 19 key roles at major companies providing proprietary research, consumer insight, consulting, events, and peer-to-peer executive programs. For more than 25 years, Forrester has been making IT, marketing, and technology industry leaders successful every day. For more information, visit http://www.forrester.com.

Contact:

Jon Symons
Director, Media Relations
Forrester Research, Inc.
+1 617.613.6104
press@forrester.com

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Written by David Frederick

August 20, 2009 at 6:57 PM

Business Bumper Cars

I recently took my kids to an amusement park that had the old style bumper cars. You remember the kind. The sparks on the roof, the smell of arcing electricity, the chaos on the floor, grandmas kamikazing 7 year old’s as if they were getting even for some old score they had to settle. Remember? Ahhh. Good times. Well, while I was standing in line with my two boys, the girls were off with mom to go on some other less violent ride, it dawned on me that what I was watching on the bumper floor was a lot like today’s business climate. Screams and all!

There were people driving everywhere. Some impotent to move because their didn’t know how to steer their car. Others driving around with a mad look in their eyes trying to figure out how to steer the car, and others just smashing into each other, log jammed in the center of the arena. Finally, there were a couple of smart drivers under control cruising the outer ring of confusion, picking the right moment to pummel some unsuspecting driver. I cant help to mention the pain in the but driver who for some unknown reason has identified you or your child as their target and spends the whole ride trying to nail you….repeatedly. Which of course, requires immediate counter measures and a turn the hunted into hunter strategy. But I digress. But not really.

You see, this chaos is very much like the current business climate. Businesses in all industry sectors are in chaos. Driving around, smashing into things and being stuck in the middle log jam because they don’t know what to do. We are in an global business environment that is unprecedented and certainly not one they teach about in an MBA program. When you combine the massive government intervention into the private sector, business verticals shrinking or at best wildly fluctuating, costing and budgeting models changing on a dime, you end up with the equivalent of business bumper cars. Sure there are those business that drive the periphery to stay out of the mix and try to make things happen, but those are the exception to the rule. Most business are in the log jam. So what to do?

First, there is no magic bullet. These are crazy and tough times. In addition, most businesses small and large are too cumbersome to just simply turn on a dime. Even so called lean business. But there are things that can be done to help break the bumper car log jam and put your business in a stronger and more nimble place. Like most successful strategies, they are deceptively simple, obvious and dynamic to ebb and flow with the uncontrollable dynamics of global business. So what are these strategies? Well, I have listed 10 basics herein:

1: My first rule of chaos is there is always opportunity to be found in chaos. You just have to know where to look. What does this mean? Look at better ways to differentiate and get out of the commodity play. Build value instead of trying to compete just on price. Hone your message, product and service strategy, etc. Laser focus on your competencies. These simple things will help you stay out of the noise.

2: Use this period to innovate. Really innovate. People are looking for something new. It could be as simple as a reposition of your brand. A clearer message. New products and modified solutions. More cost effective smart sourcing, etc. Innovation is a multi-dimensional activity. Remember, what made you great in the past will not necessarily make you great in the future so you MUST innovate. If you need help with this, give me a call.

3: Establish leadership both in your organization and in the market. I mean real leadership. Lead from the front. Execute. Even if you fail or falter, you’re still moving and can adjust course accordingly. If your standing still, its too easy to get picked off. Also remember, if you getting kicked in the butt all the time….. by your competitors complaining, or your employee’s complaining because of change, that means your out front where you need to be. Leading.

4: Look at the market place from your customers perspective. I know, Duh right. You would be surprised how many companies forget this simply perspective. Adjust your solutions, value, products, services, etc. to meet the needs of your customers. Anticipate and prepare for where the future is going to be. Not what is happening now. If you focus on only the hear and now, you will only be following, not leading. If you know how to look and use data effectivly you can predict where the market is going. What your customers will need. Even in this crazy market. In fact, absolutely in this market.

5: Communicate. Communicate both internally and externally. Internally you want to make sure you team is on the same page and executing to the same objectives. Externally, you want your customers and partners to know who, what, when, why, how and where. Its to easy to start making radical changes in marketing, sales, branding, and other external facing communication when your in a pinch, desperate and grasping at solutions. But remember, you will only confuse the market place if you are shooting from the hip and trying to be all things to all people. FOCUS and EXECUTE

6: Look at ways to leverage technology more effectively. Technology can do a lot for a company, but if you don’t know how to leverage the data, mine the info, and build effective and meaningful strategies from technology enabled solutions – TES, you risk getting swallowed up in the data and become impotent to adjust course, execute and lead. Again, if you need help here, give me a call.

7: Don’t get pigeon holed into one business strategy. To many times executives will read a book, attend a seminar, talk to a colleague, etc. and think that what works for others will work for you. Most of the time it doesn’t. While there are fundamental benefits in most business, marketing, and corporate strategies, business is not static. Most of my clients forget this. They think my business has been successful for X years and I never changed a thing. We execute our strategy and it works. I always hate telling them that it doesn’t. Especially when I use the data to prove it. If the global business world is changing why would your business be any different? There is a saying used in the Marine Corp that I am fond of quoting to my clients. “Adapt and Overcome”. Your business should be adaptable. Flexible. Dynamic. This way when the markets change or competitors pull up along side you in the race, you can adapt and overcome the challenge. If your not adaptable your business will snap and start to fail.

8: Just like the rubber on the edges of the bumper car that are used to “bump” someone, you need to have your own rubber bumpers to bump off challenges. You do this by building dynamic, flexible and aggressive forward looking strategies. These are derived by solid marketing data and communication, lean and cost effective product/service development, strong R&D and innovation, bold and confident leadership executing you strategy. Yes, you will get bumped. But being able to absorb the hit and move on is the key.

9: Take a global approach. Just because your core markets maybe domestic, perhaps your growth strategy, cost reduction strategy, etc. may be across the ocean. Depending on the size of your business, this approach may be of value. To many companies when faced with challenges become myopic. Broaden your field of play and you have a better chance of scoring a goal, identifying beneficial team mates and winning the game.

10: Bumper Car Hell. We are all trying to stay out of the log jam and drive smooth so we can pick our target without getting hammered in the back by the maniacal screaming 10 year old. You will take a hit. No question. Many times its because we cant drive the car and smash into the wall. Other times its because we’re in the game and playing for keeps. Remember that grandma! But, regardless of the arena, you need to move forward with agility, vision, strategy and execution. To succeed in today’s global business and bumper cars, doing these things will keep you moving in the right direction.

So in the end, we rode the bumper cars. My youngest son with me in one car, my oldest son in the other car. We did ok. Took some hits, gave some hits, evaded the crazy people and enjoyed ourselves. Screaming and all. Mostly by me! As the ride ended and I exited the car with the scent of arcing bumpers in my nose, I couldn’t help wonder how many business today are screaming and trying to avoid taking a hit and driving in circles because they couldn’t get out of the mass of bumper cars stuck in the middle because they didn’t know what to do. Is that you? If so, we need to talk.

-DF

Written by David Frederick

August 20, 2009 at 3:26 PM

Cautious consumer spending dampens online sales

Another great article from Internet Retail.

-DF

Cautious consumer spending dampens online sales

Cautious consumer spending had an impact on online sales in the second quarter, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported today.

Online retail sales in the second quarter were down 4.5% from Q2 last year, the Department of Commerce reports. Sales in Q2 2009 were $30.8 billion compared to $32.2 billion a year ago, on a basis that does not adjust for trading days or price changes. On an adjusted basis, sales declined 4.4% to $32.4 billion from $33.9 billion a year earlier.

By comparison, Internet audience measurement company comScore Inc. reported last week that Q2 online sales were down 1% from the year-earlier quarter.

To Read the full article, click here: http://www.internetretailer.com/dailyNews.asp?id=31495

Written by David Frederick

August 18, 2009 at 6:03 PM

Posted in Business, Economics, General

Here today, here tomorrow

Here today, here tomorrow

E-commerce has taken on added importance for retailers during the recession. And nearly 5,000 gathered in Boston for IRCE 2009 to learn how to better leverage the web in the coming recovery. – By Don Davis

Here today, here tomorrow
E-commerce has taken on added importance for retailers during the recession. And nearly 5,000 gathered in Boston for IRCE 2009 to learn how to better leverage the web in the coming recovery.
By Don Davis

A trade show can provide a good gauge of the health of an industry. And the message delivered by the 2009 Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition was that online retailing remains strong, despite the recession.

Nearly 5,000 attended the four-day event in Boston in June, just a hair below the attendance at last year’s pre-recession IRCE in Chicago. In a year when many trade shows were much smaller than in the past, IRCE turned some heads.

“As a frequent presenter at trade shows and conferences I was absolutely amazed at what Internet Retailer was able to achieve in Boston,” said Eric T. Peterson, founder of consulting group Web Analytics Demystified, author of a book by that name and a speaker at IRCE. “While many conferences are struggling in 2009, Internet Retailer was packed with great brands, great vendors and totally engaged participants.”

Over the four days of the conference, those participants took advantage of 91 sessions, 18% more than IRCE 2008, and heard from 173 speakers, a 20% increase from last year. Attendees garnered insights on such nuts-and-bolts topics as site navigation, handling returns and e-mail marketing as well as on such leading-edge issues as personalization, social marketing and mobile commerce.

TO READ MORE CLICK HERE: http://www.internetretailer.com/article.asp?id=31304

Written by David Frederick

August 18, 2009 at 4:32 PM

Posted in Business, General, Sales