Internet Retailer reveals the 100 e-commerce and 10 m-commerce sites and apps that stand above the rest going into 2014. These sites each do something distinctive, but what they all have in common is they pay unwavering attention to their customers.
Allison Enright , Editor
The e-retailers profiled in the 2014 edition of The Hot 100 span 11 product categories and range from a company that sells just six products (Greats Brand) to the likes of Amazon.com Inc. But each is doing their part to advance the retail industry in delivering top-notch shopping opportunities to consumers through the web.
Some e-retailers, like Walmart.com, have appeared frequently in the Hot 100 and its previous incarnations. (Internet Retailer has published a list of “best of the web” e-retailers annually for the last 15 years.) But other e-retailers will be new to many readers. Bourbon & Boots Inc., Xiaomi Inc. and Dafiti are relatively new to e-retailing overall, but their profiles are rising quickly because of what they are doing online. Gift e-retailer Bourbon & Boots is flying high due in part to its prowess on Pinterest. Xiaomi, a maker and retailer of smartphones, this fall hired away a Google Inc. exec to be its head of global as it sets to expand from its base in China. Dafiti, an e-retailer that debuted in Brazil less than three years ago, has raised more than $225 million in funding and already sells in five countries using a novel blend of merchandising tactics. The 2014 list includes seven e-retailers from outside North America, including entries from China, Brazil and the United Kingdom.
What helped land these and the other e-retailers on the Hot 100 is they focus on their customers and endeavor to give them exactly what they want. In Amazon’s case, that’s selection and speed. For Abe’s Market, a retailer of eco-friendly goods, that’s information. For MonthlyClubs.com, an “of the month” gift retailer of wine, cheese and more, it’s a richness of information and attention to detail.
At RangerUp.com, an e-retailer of patriotically themed apparel and accessories, founder Nick Palmisciano cites customer feedback as key to the e-retailer’s success. “We believe that constant interaction with [our customers] is essential to making sure our brand represents them well,” he says. Palmisciano tests T-shirt designs with customers buy posting photos the designs on Facebook and asking for feedback. “We’ve found that even when our designs were winners, fan input made them better, and the earlier we add customer input, the better designs we generate,” he says.
At Betabrand, which sells trending apparel, the sentiment is the similar. “Our whole goal with Betabrand is to build a brand together and allow customers to drive who we are and what we’re about,” says Aaron Magness, vice president of marketing. To that end, this summer Betabrand began using the crowd-funding model popularized by Kickstarter Inc. in an e-commerce context, letting customers decide with their credit cards which products Betabrand would put into production.
The net effect of such actions on the part of e-retailers has been an improvement in how satisfied consumers are with shopping online across the board. That shows up in an annual ForeSee customer satisfaction study of the 100 leading e-retailers by sales. In 2012, they collectively scored 82, after posting scores of 81 in 2011 and 80 in 2010. ForeSee considers scores of 80 and above excellent.
Also included in the 2014 edition of The Hot 100 are profiles of 10 e-retailers whose mobile commerce sites and apps are worth examining before making any site design plans for 2014. The list includes a universal app from B&H Photo Video that will adapt to render well on any Apple Inc. device and its mobile commerce site designed using responsive design principles to meet the needs of consumers surfing the web from their smartphones. Other e-retailers named to the Mobile 10 include Groupon, Vitacost and niche e-retailer SkinnyTies.com.
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