In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
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Any gain is a plus
While the system’s last test netted some $3,000 in sales from recovered carts in 10 days, Baker points out that the test ran during the holidays, and that response in other-than-peak season might net only 20% of that figure. Still, at this point, it costs absolutely nothing to run the program, so any gain is a plus. Many shoppers, he adds, seemed to appreciate the second chance to buy; one of the most often-cited reasons for abandoning the carts was involuntary disconnection at the user end.
Baker believes that Lighthousedepot.com hasn’t done anything that other e-retailers of similar size and resources couldn’t also do in-house. Bigger sites such as Yahoo! and Amazon run web server programs that are much faster and more expensive, providing the simultaneous connections needed to handle their high volumes of traffic. Because it handles a much lower volume-about 3 million to 5 million visits per month, representing a few hundred thousand unique visitors-and because it ponied up for Windows NT upfront, “Lighthousedepot.com is now able to do some of the things bigger sites get to do without investing millions,” says Baker. “And with our web server platform, it’s easy to write a query that will ask the database whatever you want. It’s only through using some form of web server design program like ColdFusion that you can achieve the kind of functionality that you see on these larger sites.”
Baker hasn’t run a second test, but he’s convinced the program is generating revenue. “I haven’t bothered to track it because we know it’s working. We’ve got plenty of other things to do,” he says.
Lighthousedepot.com’s success may already be sparking similar efforts elsewhere, as a call Baker received from another e-retailer who’d heard about the cart recovery program suggests. “The guy thought it was a great idea and wanted to buy our code,” says Baker. “Then he realized he could do it himself.”