In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
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With sellers from more than 150 countries, Etsy Inc., a marketplace for all things handmade, could easily become a cluttered mess where shoppers have to trudge through artists hawking everything from figurines to embroidered cloth napkins. Instead, the site’s Fresh Picks Showcase, featured on the top of the home page, presents a range of products without text. While that may not work on most sites, on Etsy it allows shoppers to quickly cull through a range of items. And if that doesn’t work for a particular shopper, he can search by color or locale, or look through the editor’s picks. Or he can use the site’s Pounce feature to shop recently updated shops that have not had a sale. Then again, he can always search by more traditional categories, like art prints or quilts.
EyeBuy Direct.com is making its successful EyeTry virtual eyeglass-fitting application even better. For starters, it is using a new version of Flash technology that renders images more quickly. The eyeglass retailer also now allows shoppers to try glasses on photos of models if they don’t wish to upload photos of themselves. In addition, EyeBuyDirect is taking the technology to Facebook.com, where shoppers can try glasses on their profile photos and solicit feedback without leaving their profiles. “We want to create an experience as near to the real thing as possible,” says Roy Hessel, CEO. EyeBuyDirect is also expanding videos to all products and enhancing them with brief text messages. “People retain text messages better than they do video and music,” Hessel says. “Results have been very good.”
Multichannel retailer Giggle considers itself a store for parents. Busy parents. Parents who can go anywhere to find any of the hundreds of products new parents are told are essential. That’s why Giggle founder and CEO Ali Wing says she wants the company’s various channels, and particularly Giggle.com, to be the trusted source for those parents. To that end, the site features Giggle Criteria, a simple rating system that evaluates products in 10 categories, such as healthy (made of allergy-free or non-toxic materials). And it’s why the site features several blogs-written by parenting experts and the store’s staff. It’s also why the site offers a community forum where parents can share tips such as which coffee shops are best for stroller parking near Giggle stores.
After people get help from Ancestry.com in building their family trees, its new sister site, MyCanvas.com, is helping them illustrate their family stories. MyCanvas stands out in the world of online photography sites by letting customers import historical information as well as photos they have stored on Ancestry.com or on photo-sharing site Flickr.com. With a few mouse clicks, customers can design photo books, calendars, posters and other products with information and images from a family tree. MyCanvas users also can instantly change photo layouts, such as by changing the number of images per page and adding text, before ordering hard copies. “What resonates with our customers is the flexibility of our tools that really helps them tell their stories,” says Wendy Jessen, director of product marketing.
Anyone looking for party supplies and novelties need look no farther than OrientalTrading.com. The site, long popular with teachers and moms, has taken steps recently to capitalize on that brand loyalty with a host of new community-oriented features such as ratings and reviews and an e-mail a friend tool. It’s added attribute-driven navigation to let customers speedily narrow their search of some 35,000 products by category, theme, occasion, price, color, characters, brand, holiday and ability to personalize. That’s shortened the average four clicks it once took to get to products to two. A new electronic gift card program can be delivered within 24 hours or less. Customers also can personalize gift cards by uploading a photo and customizing a greeting card that accompanies the gift card-for free.
Though Parentgiving.com is an e-commerce site, it goes beyond selling elderly and senior care products. The site aims to serve as a resource where adults caring for their parents or grandparents, or seniors caring for other seniors, can learn everything from how to pick the right Medicare prescription drug plan to what nutrients seniors need in their diets. A seasoned journalist oversees the site’s content, which features more than 180 original articles, as well as four separate blogs, only one of which focuses on shopping. There are also detailed product selectors to guide shoppers. “The stuff we sell is not an impulse buy,” says Keith Maddox, Parentgiving CEO. “The products are about keeping people safe and comfortable in their home and our content helps people do that.”