December 5, 2011, 11:19 AM

Toys / Hobbies / Sporting Goods

While fun is fine, value matters, too

Lead Photo

The Hot 100 retailers featured in the toys, hobbies and sporting goods category sell fun products that consumers enjoy. But those products also are discretionary. In these penny-pinching times the e-retailers selected this year have focused on testing, refining and implementing site tools and functions that raise the fun quotient while also giving consumers ways to measure and compare value. FatBrainToys.com, for example, developed a Toy Value Index that measures the quality of the product, how long a child is likely to play with it and whether it's likely to survive and be passed down to other children; the index compares those scores with the sales price and assigns a numerical value consumers can use to evaluate what they're getting for their money. The retailer also added a colorful visual review cloud of the most popular words cited in consumer reviews so shoppers can quickly get a sense of the dialogue happening around the product.

Snowboard manufacturer and outdoor apparel retailer Burton provides its own dialogue as consumers build outfits. When a shopper selects "ultimate" as the level of waterproofing they want in a jacket, for example, a word bubble pops up that reads "don't forget your snorkel." Evo.com determined through usability tests that consumers were having a hard time comparing products and were repeatedly clicking in and out of their carts to do comparisons. In response, the retailer implemented a comparison shopping tool that lets consumers compare prices and product features easily.

Cabelas.com, as part of a major site overhaul, rewrote its site navigation and halved the number of clicks it takes consumers to get where they want to go, making for a speedier and more satisfying shopping experience. Encouraging speed was also a focus for Chainlove.com, a flash-sale retailer of bicycle gear that commonly makes deep discounts available for 30 minutes or less. The e-retailer added a timer that shows the time remaining on the deal and a live inventory status feed of the product available. It also shows the number of people currently active on the site. "We wanted to create a sense of urgency," says Sam Bruni, general manager of closeout sites.

E-Retailers Awarded the Hot 100 of Toys / Hobbies / Sporting Goods:

BURTON.COM, CABELAS.COM, CHAINLOVE.COM, EVO.COM, FATBRAINTOYS.COM, LEGO.COM, PUMA.COM, SALTLIFE.COM

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