November 25, 2002, 12:00 AM

Computers/Electronics/CDs: High-tech sites for tech-smart shoppers

(Page 3 of 6)

“Dell’s site is set up in a way that makes it very easy for a wide range of people to come to the site and get very quickly to the products that they are interested in pursuing,” says Retail Forward analyst Geoff Wissman. “There are multiple ways for the user to access the different models that are there; the site’s set up with the customer in mind.”

Dell.com

Date
1996
Unique Visitors
15 million/mo
Sales
$16.8 billion/yr.
Design By
Frog Design, Critical Mass
Site Search
in-house
CRM
in-house
Affiliate Management
LinkShare Corp.
Fulfillment
in-house
Order Management
in-house
Returns Liquidation
in-house
Web Analytics
in-house
Payment Processor
in-house
Content Management
in-house
E-mail Management
PeopleSoft Inc.

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HPShopping
Zeroing in on the shopping experience

Executives at HPShopping.com monitoring customer activity noticed that customers in the midst of buying the iPAQ Pocket PC device were dropping off the site in alarming numbers after they had placed the product in their shopping carts, then went in search of other products.

Using an analytics program from Keylime Software Inc., HP’s e-commerce managers determined the problem was caused by customers who wanted iPAQ accessories. A link from a specific product recommendation, such as a modems was delivering customers to a general accessories page. Customers who were interested in the featured product became confused by the broad selection that had suddenly appeared on their screens and so left without sorting through the information.

Fixing that one step to deliver customers to a specific product increased conversion rates for iPAQ accessories by 83% and revenue by 25%. “We’re always looking for feedback from customers,” says Susan Boyce, chief marketing officer for HPShopping.com, which, post-merger, offers HP as well as Compaq products. “We send an invitation to every customer who has bought something to give us feedback.”

From fearing that selling to consumers online would alienate their retail and reseller distribution networks, most high-tech manufacturers have taken lessons from Dell Computer Corp. and Gateway Inc. and now enthusiastically embrace online selling to customers, and HP is no exception. “We started selling on the web because customers wanted to buy direct from us,” Boyce says. “And that defines our whole web site strategy-delivering the best customer experience.”

But HPShopping is not relying only on after-the-fact analytics to enhance the customer experience. It also is leveraging what it knows about customers to create personalized shopping sessions. For instance, using cookie-based information, it offers personalized recommendations when a customer returns to the site. It’s also created a newsletter with personalized recommendations based on past purchases. While she won’t reveal numbers, Boyce says newsletter circulation has grown substantially and is exceeding expectations.

For the coming year, HPShopping plans additional decision tools to help customers choose options and configure systems, enhanced navigation and more targeted product presentation. “Most of the customers who come to our site have unique requests and expectations,” Boyce says. “They look for particular things on the web. So we will be looking for ways to give them enhanced personalization and customization abilities.”

HPShopping.com

Date
1998
Unique Visitors
1.5 million/mo.
Design By
in-house
Site Search
in-house
CRM
Infogain Corp., E.piphany Inc.
Affiliate Management
none
Fulfillment
in-house
Order Management
Broadvision Inc.
Returns Liquidation
in-house
Web Analytics
in-house
Payment Processor
ClearCommerce Corp.
Content Management
in-house
E-mail Management
YesMail Inc.

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iGo.com
Taming the wireless accessories niche

To succeed in the retail accessories market for mobile devices like laptops and cellular phones, a retailer has to be equipped to channel product information that can change day by day. For a niche player like iGo.com, retail success would be impossible without the web as a sales and information channel.

“There are as many as 10 or 15 new mobile phones each week, and new computer notebooks every week,” says Al Ingallinera, director of corporate marketing for iGo’s parent company, Mobility Electronics Inc. “So it’s a necessity for consumers to have real-time access to information, 24/7.”

IGo.com’s annual sales of things like electronic plug adapters and wire extenders are small compared to sales at most other retailers in Internet Retailer’s Best of the Web-it posted $19 million in direct-to-consumer web and catalog sales last year-but it has leveraged the web to provide a rare service in a tough-to-serve market.

The central part of its service revolves around the configurators it offers for mobile devices, so that shoppers can search an updated list of compatible accessories that iGo sells. The challenge it faces is keeping up with the forever changing universe of mobile devices, requiring it to constantly update information regarding which accessories are compatible with each cell phone, laptop or hand-held.

Without an effective web site, it would be too costly to provide updated product information, Ingallinera says. “We have to have the web to compete in this market,” he adds. “Our cost structure would increase significantly if it required a phone call to determine the compatibility of accessories for new products, given the velocity at which new products enter our market.”

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