July 27, 2006, 12:00 AM

Internet Retailer 2006: Report from the conference

(Page 3 of 9)

Other changes that will increase conversions include making product images as impressive and functional as possible, providing simple product comparison functions, and making checkout obvious, Schueler said.

At Levenger Co., creating a global top header with all of the categories reduced the number of clicks to the product page and increased conversions for new buyers 43.5%, said Lynette Montgomery, general manager of e-commerce. Conversions for active buyers increased 18.3%.

A redesign of the shopping bag to make the checkout button as obvious as possible, to incorporate a box for catalog codes and to add cross-sell opportunities led to a 3.71% increase in conversions, she said.

The multi-channel challenge

Making Cross-Channel Inventory Management Work
Lisa Dyson, director of e-commerce and customerrelationship marketing, Famous Footwear
Tony Gasparich, vice president of direct sales, West Marine Inc.

For a multi-channel retailer, the web site is a window to the company, said Tony Gaspirch, vice president of direct sales, West Marine Inc. "If customers see a product online, they expect to go in the store and be able to get it," he says.

That means that brand value must transcend the physical boundaries of each channel and be unified. "Customers view us as one brand," he said.

The impact of a multi-channel retailer`s web site can`t be measured solely online, because one-third to one-half of customers use web sites to shop in the store, said Lisa Dyson, director of e-commerce, Famous Footwear.

Many customers decide to visit a store based on the merchandise on a retailer`s site, Dyson said. Because of that, Famous Footwear expanded its search function beyond inventory to available SKUs at local stores. Between 10% and 45% of site visitors have used the shoe locator, she said.

How Puma speaks Spanish

Tapping America`s Second Market-Hispanics
Craig Davidson, director of business intelligence and e-commerce, Puma North America

In weighing Puma`s potential expansion into Latin America and the need for Spanish language translation, "there were huge issues we had to solve," Craig Davidson of Puma told attendees. "We couldn`t start a huge bureaucracy around language if it would erode our profits."

Ultimately, Puma chose to address Spanishspeakers in U.S., but its solution provides a blueprint for later Latin American expansion. The TransMotion content management and translation system from MotionPoint Corp. combines human translation services with software to render and keep updated a Spanish version of Puma`s site, without requiring Puma to go to the expense of building and maintaining it from the ground up.

Sales expectations for the North American Spanish language site were conservative, Davidson said, as Puma views the project as a cost of doing business. That said, results exceeded expectations, with Puma garnering about the same revenue from that site as from its longer-established Canadian site, he added.

Closing the deal with deep content

From Content to Customers
Andy Stevenson, senior director, Crutchfield.com

When it comes to a complex purchase such as car or consumer electronics, the sale rests on helpingcustomers through the decision process. Crutchfield.com distinguishes itself with deep content that does just that, in what Andy Stevenson, senior director of Crutchfield.com, called "a strategic imperative."

The advantages of in-depth content which Crutchfield offers in formats ranging from extensive product detail to the Crutchfield Advisor informational site, are many, Stevenson told session attendees: Such content increases site visits, adds reviews and ratings, and aids in search engine optimization as well as building customer loyalty.

Creating deep content , however, isn`t easy. Crutchfield employs writers and editors who create and update the content daily. But the benefits are worth it: Visitors to the Crutchfield Advisor, for example, view 50% more pages and conduct 25% more sessions than other Crutchfield shoppers. "We`ve also seen higher conversions and higher average order size from these customers," he said.

Web Site Marketing: Going Beyond the Basics
Track B -- June 6

Quantity better than quality?

Vertical Search Engines: The New Way to Find Products
Patti Freeman Evans, retail analyst, Jupiter Research
David Hills, CEO, LookSmart

There is no dominant source from which online and offline shoppers seek information on retailers and products; as a result, retailers need to get their name in as many venues as is possible, Patti Freeman Evans, retail analyst at Jupiter Research, told IR2006 attendees.

"Vertical search engines are one kind of information source, and they play a great role in the shopping process," she said. "However, there are a great many search sites on which consumers will look for information while shopping. Consequently, ubiquity on vertical search engines is important for retailers."

There are more vertical search engines for retail than for any other industry, Freeman Evans said. "Though young," she added, "retail vertical search engines are far and away more advanced than others."

Additionally, while price may catch consumers` attention, it`s not enough to close a deal, said David Hills, CEO of Looksmart. "Price is an eye-grabber, but people want more when querying."

Red rewards

Online Retailers Finally Discover Loyalty Programs
Gary Korotzer, vice president of marketing, RedEnvelope Inc.
Mark Goldstein, CEO, Loyalty Lab Inc.

After analysis of its e-commerce data, online and catalog retailer RedEnvelope reached a key conclusion: The number of new customer repeat purchases in the first year was too low. "We began to focus our customer loyalty efforts on the lifetime value of a customer," said Gary Korotzer, vice president of marketing.

With lifetime as opposed to short-term in mind, RedEnvelope decided to create RedBox Rewards to address the low first-year repeat purchase volume and work to increase long-term customer loyalty. The rewards program gives customers a $20 RedEnvelope gift certificate for every $200 spent. The company launched the program from Loyalty Lab Inc. targeting specific customer groups with e-mail marketing.

To date, Korotzer says, RedBox has showntremendous value as a new communication channel with customers.

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