The U.S. online shopping world's biggest day is here, but will strong web sales on Black Friday and Thanksgiving cut into Cyber Monday's take?
The top 100 e-retailers lead by example in innovation, design, risk taking, trend setting and knowing customers extremely well.
The Internet Retailer Hot 100
Apparel & Accessories
Here`s the bottom line about being a market leader: It`s not just about the bottom line.
Market leaders in e-commerce stand out in the crowd because, among other things, they are innovative and engaging, create striking and effective site designs, do something critical such as site search better than the rest, take risks on new concepts and technologies such as social networking and Ajax, set trends such as m-commerce rather than wait and see, and know their customers extraordinarily well, exceeding their desires and needs. These are among the qualities, which ultimately can lead to a healthy bottom line, that vaulted e-retailers into the Hot 100.
Bodybuilding.com is an excellent example of a market-leading e-retailer using the latest Internet concepts and tools to greatly enhance the web experience to satisfy and support customers, keeping them and its business healthy.
"We are building something that is not just based on making money," says Ryan DeLuca, CEO of the health and fitness products e-retailer. "Everything we add to our site is based on helping visitors reach their goals. Helping our visitors stick to their programs and reach their goals will ultimately lead to much higher revenue, a much more valuable brand based on emotional connections, and more profitability based on increased customer loyalty."
DeLuca puts his money where his mouth is, investing in Web 2.0 strategies that have paid off. Customers have embraced myriad useful resources and Bodybuilding.com has enjoyed financial rewards.
The site offers 20,000 pages of content from experts and consumers and an online forum where more than 800,000 fitness buffs have posted 19 million messages over the past five years (and is the 34th biggest online forum on the web as measured by forum tracker Big Boards). And it features 24 educational online video series, functionality that enables a user to create his own blog, and a social network called BodySpace--which includes links to the online store--that has amassed 117,000 members.
"There is no doubt our community and social networking offerings are making a big difference for sales and conversion," DeLuca says. "Since we added BodySpace, our average order size is up nearly $10 to $92.41, and our conversion rate is 8%, up from 7% a year ago. That one percentage point is huge."
Other Hot 100 e-retailers that offer online forums, social networking and other community-oriented tools include AbeBooks.com, Amazon.com, Netflix and PetsUnited.
At the same time, an e-retailer does not have to be big and muscular like Bodybuilding.com and others with Web 2.0 offerings galore to be a market leader. Nor does it have to be laden with bells and whistles. Shoppers at RepairClinic.com, for example, find a no-frills site. RepairClinic.com sets itself apart, though, with a wealth of online informational resources and a web tool that`s quicker than the eye.
The PartDetective "smart search" tool is the web retailer`s shining star. Site search can be a frustrating affair on many e-commerce sites. At RepairClinic.com, a shopper can very quickly drill down through the e-retailer`s stock of more than 600,000 appliance parts to find the most obscure item imaginable. In as little as 10 seconds a shopper can find a much-needed item he doesn`t even know how to identify.
Also, RepairClinic.com`s RepairGuru section offers information and repair how-to`s on every major appliance. Rather than kick their broken washing machines, shoppers can click to the washing machine gallery to find an abundance of educational information. Or they can ask questions of RepairClinic.com`s repair guru, who helps people solve problems free of charge.
RepairClinic.com has been doing such a good job, in fact, that retail giant Home Depot, also a Hot 100 e-retailer, in late October announced a partnership with the parts merchant. Goliath now has David as its appliance parts specialist.
Taking a chance
Site search, present at the birth of the web, is crucial to success in e-commerce, and RepairClinic.com does it well. The web, however, births new technology at a lightning pace, and Internet users embrace new tools quickly. Because of this, smart e-retailers stay on top of web technology developments--and quickly consider whether they need to adopt new technology.