In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
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Keeping e-commerce local is a recurring theme among U.S. web merchants setting up shop for the first time or expanding their base in Europe. But equally important is a willingness to try new strategies and maintain a flexible approach to marketing and merchandising. For example, Coastal Contacts recently added social media to its marketing program. In the U.K. Coastal Contacts worked with deal-of-the-day web site Groupon to offer shoppers a coupon good for about 30 pounds (US$48) off a pair of designer prescription eyeglasses normally priced at 80 pounds (US$129).
Coastal Contacts, which had already been using Groupon to market eyewear in North America, ran the program for two days and generated about 1,600 orders. "In Europe Groupon was a way to reach a mass audience that didn't know us very well," says Hardy. "By staying flexible and being creative with Groupon, we were able to show more people how easy we make it for them to purchase glasses online at a great price."
Now that North American retailers have gotten the hang of selling across the pond, European consumers are likely to be seeing more of that kind of American ingenuity.