Retailers have teased and rolled out online deals for days, even weeks, but the real Black Friday is here.
Innovation wins over online shoppers
When it comes to providing innovative ways to shop online, such retail sites as Dell.com, BestBuy.com and Newegg.com have been consistently out in front-and that’s why they’re making return appearances on the Internet Retailer Hot 100 list.
Consumer electronics, computers and appliances retailer Best Buy has improved its multichannel shopping experience by enabling online shoppers to view available in-store merchandise by multiple brands and models on a single page. With an eye on social shopping, its e-commerce site also has a new group gifting and wish list program.
Newegg’s informative home page provides easy entry to the retailer’s broad range of computers and consumer electronics products while also surveying shoppers about their interests. What’s more, Newegg earned special recognition this year for making its site accessible to blind people.
Dell, an early trend-setter in e-commerce, has become a leader in marketing through social media, with more than 20 pages on Facebook and thousands of followers on Twitter. Its new online IdeaStorm gathers ideas from customers for improving Dell products.
Newcomers can innovate, too. A new e-commerce site launched in late 2008 by electronics manufacturer Philips Electronics provides a clean, contemporary design and lets shoppers compare the specs of several products side by side.
Innovation also comes in the form of quickly building a new web presence for an old brand. When Systemax acquired the CircuitCity.com domain name in 2009, it took only days to get the site back up and running. With help from social marketing and new products, the revised e-commerce site is attracting about 1 million unique visitors weekly.
The iPhone revolutionized the mobile phone, and Apple.com gives this breakthrough product the web site it deserves. A Features section within the site’s iPhone store lets visitors choose from a long list of iPhone capabilities in the left navigation column to see richly illustrated and easy-to-read commentary on how the phone can be used, whether for recording videos or as a compass. A How To section provides even more detail. And an Apps for iPhone area organizes the more than 100,000 software programs written for the iPhone into categories, such as Apps for Cooks and Apps for Keeping Current. Throughout the iPhone store, and all of Apple.com, the design is clean and elegant, in keeping with Apple Inc.’s reputation for making products that are beautiful as well as functional.
It’s never static on BestBuy.com. Just in time for the holidays, Best Buy Co. has added new web site features that make it easier for consumers to find and purchase electronics gear online. BestBuy.com now features a more sophisticated in-store inventory check that lets consumers view available merchandise by multiple models and brands on a single page. Previously customers had to drill down to individual product pages to check available inventory at a convenient store. BestBuy.com also has been updated with Pitch In, a new group gifting and wish list program, and PayPal for payments processing. “BestBuy.com is a sales channel, but more important an extension of our brand,” says Best Buy senior director of online customer experience Lissa Gatz. “Everything we do online starts and ends with being customer-centric.”
Systemax Inc. respects a deadline. Just days after acquiring the CircuitCity.com domain name and related assets from a bankruptcy auction, Systemax, which also operates TigerDirect.com and CompUSA.com, had the web site back up and running by Memorial Day weekend. “Going through the court process after Circuit City Stores filed for bankruptcy was the hardest part because we didn’t know until we won the bid if we had the brand,” says Systemax technology group products CEO Gilbert Fiorentino. Since the launch, Systemax has been targeting former Circuit City shoppers with focused advertising campaigns and social marketing and adding product categories such as video gaming. The effort is paying off. The new CircuitCity.com is drawing about one million unique visitors per week, Systemax says.
Dell Inc.’s brand is practically synonymous with e-commerce innovation, a distinction the manufacturer earned years ago with its personalized product configurator and direct-to-consumer selling model. Its trend-setting role is as strong as ever. Dell has taken a lead in putting social media to work in retailing, maintaining more than 20 pages on Facebook and working with thousands of Twitter followers to share information that drives sales. An online Idea Storm feature lets shoppers submit ideas that Dell uses to improve products, and shoppers can use an online Design Studio to choose from dozens of artists’ designs to customize covers of laptops. To complement its innovative ways, Dell.com has consistently been one of the fastest-loading sites on the web.