August 29, 2003, 12:00 AM

After rebuilding, Highlights.com pares its cart abandonment rate to 48%

Highlights for Children, a magazine and catalog publisher focused on educational toys and other products, developed a web site six years ago just to keep up with the times. But it took a recent redesign to give its site a positive shopping experience.

Highlights for Children Inc., a magazine and catalog publisher focused on educational toys and other products for kids, developed a web site six years ago just to keep up with the times. But it took a recent redesign to give its site a positive shopping experience, Eric Snyder, vice president of new media, tells InternetRetailer.com. "We created our web site just because everyone was doing it and we wanted to have a web presence, but it was expensive to maintain, hard to navigate, and focused on passive selling," he says. "So when we decided to rebuild, we wanted to reduce maintenance costs, improve the ease of content management, and improve the customer experience by helping to let our products sell themselves." After just six weeks of the redesigned Highlights.com and its new sister site, HighlightsKids.com, the company has already cut its cart abandonment rate to 48% from 75%, Snyder says.

Highlights worked with Multimedia Live to rebuild its site with Multimedia’s MarketLive Intelligent Selling System e-commerce application, which provides the foundation for content management and merchandising features.

Although Snyder says it’s too soon to report the impact on sales, he notes that the lowered abandonment rate stems from the new ability to place front and center the products that shoppers are most likely to buy. For example, each product category page can be set up to automatically display links to featured products that have proved most popular in that category. This feature can also be set up to dynamically present displays of products based on the shopping behavior of individuals or of groups of shoppers, such as those who place a certain value of goods into their shopping carts.

"We wanted to make our site more intuitive in terms of shopping experience, and let shoppers navigate the site and find what they want without having to do a lot of hunting," Snyder says.

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