July 31, 2007, 12:00 AM

IRCE 2007: Report from the Conference

Media Center Interviews

See these other reports from
IRCE 2007:

General Sessions

Afternoon Breakout Sessions

Workshops

During the Internet Retailer 2007 Conference and Exhibition, Internet Retailer conducted interviews with several executives from leading e-retailing solution providers. The interviews covered a wide range of topics from outsourcing the e-commerce platform, to choosing ­payment systems to how to create effective e-mail marketing campaigns. Below is a summary of those interviews. Click here to see them in their entirety.

More engaging content
Kieran Taylor, Senior Director, Marketing, Akamai Technologies Inc.

Web 2.0 applications hold the promise of creating a more interactive and engaging shopping experience. As a result, e-retailers will need an e-commerce platform that can support such Web 2.0 applications as a product configurator and that scale according to the retailer`s performance needs. "Web 2.0 applications only enhance the shopping experience and reduce abandonment if site performance is adequate," says Kieran Taylor, senior director of marketing for web content acceleration company Akamai Technologies Inc.

A key measure of site performance is the ability to scale to traffic. Retailers that fail to anticipate load increases end up turning away customers, which is like padlocking the doors on the store, says Taylor. Akamai`s 25,000 servers help e-retailers effectively manage traffic spikes and improve their business. "We`ve helped eBags increase buyers 15% and Ross-Simons increase revenues by $20 million," says Taylor. "Choosing an on-demand solution that scales to traffic and revenues can keep retailers from becoming a victim of their own success."

Keeping comparison sites fresh
Scot Wingo, CEO, ChannelAdvisor Corp.

The popularity of comparison shopping sites has made it imperative for e-retailers to more actively manage their presence in that sales channel. About 40% of consumers begin their buying decision through a comparison site; retailers that fail to provide comparison sites with an accurate and timely data feed of their product catalog can end up presenting stale data that does not reflect current promotions, which results in lost sales, according to Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor Corp., which provides services that help retailers sell in various online channels and populate comparison sites and search engines.

Retailers also need to consider the return on investment of comparison sites. If a product is not hitting its margin target, retailers might want to pull it off the comparison site or bid a lower amount for placement. "Retailers need to measure and figure the economics of the comparison channel and which comparison engines contribute most to their bottom line," says Wingo. "The aim is to measure the whole view of the channel."

Getting search engines the right data
Steven Roth, Vice President, Channel Management, Channel Intelligence Inc.

Although many consumers start their online shopping trips at a search engine, they are growing dissatisfied with receiving an abundance of generic results that lack the relevance and increase the time they spend searching for a product. In response, search engines are mandating the inclusion of product attributes in e-retailers` data feeds. The aim is to provide consumers the ability to conduct guided product searches based on product attributes, such as the size of a television screen. "Without product attributes there is a lack of search relevance," says Steven Roth, vice president of channel management for Channel Intelligence Inc. "The more attributes available, the easier it is to locate items in a search."

Channel Intelligence can help retailers harvest product attributes, including those provided by manufacturers, and map them to search engines. "The more consumers get exposed to this type of guided search, the more product attributes will be mandated," adds Roth.

Knowing global payments
Shane Happach, Vice President, Business Development, GlobalCollect

As more e-retailers expand internationally they find they must have an effective payments and fraud detection strategy. On the payments side, e-retailers need to tailor payment options to those of local international markets. "Payments cultures are very diverse in large e-commerce markets even more so in many of the emerging markets e-retailers are taking an interest in," says Shane Happach, vice president, business development, GlobalCollect

When it comes to fraud detection, retailers need to closely track the behavior of customers to understand their shopping and purchasing patterns. While this information is typically collected for marketing purposes, it can be used for fraud prevention. Another way to prevent fraud is to offer payment options that have an inherently lower risk of fraud and chargebacks, such as real-time bank transfers. "Retailers` core business is not payment and fraud management, it is retail," says Happach. "We can help provide a lot of the consulting services to create an effective payment strategy."

Strategies for e-mail success
Mike Atkinson, Director of Internet Marketing, House of Magnets (for Got Corp).

Boosting open rates for e-mail marketing campaigns is a major challenge facing e-retailers. House of Magnets, a multi-channel promotions company that offers team schedules on magnets and like merchandise, is using Got Corp.`s Campaigner Pro to successfully boost open rates through improved list segmentation. By setting its mailing strategies according to open rates, House of Magnets is targeting consumers with a lower response rate less frequently, which results in a more successful campaign. "It has also reduced customer complaints to their ISP about our mailings and that helps our reputation," says Atkinson.

Mailings sent with promotions for a team specific to the customer`s geographic area have increased responses for those campaigns 40% to 50% over generic messages, he adds.

In addition, House of Magnets has used A/B testing to identify subject lines that result in better open rates, and which days and times are best to send a message.

Search engine optimization lives
Rob Murray, President, iProspect

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