December 5, 2011, 10:37 AM

Books / Music / Video

Caring, cookies and content make these sites stand out

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The hottest books, music and video retailers this year have one thing in common: all want to immerse consumers in wider experiences, which can work to increase brand loyalty and, of course, pump up sales.

Take The e-retailer is afor-profit venture that funds literacy programs via the online sales of new and used books. The e-commerce site displays a ticker that tells shoppers how much the retailer has raised for charity, along with the number of books it has helped to become "reused." The idea is to inject some fun into the lives of shoppers, not hit them over the head with holier-than-thou merchandising. That point, about having fun while shopping, is reinforced by the retailer's marketing promotion that encourages consumers to shop from work without annoying their bosses, via a button that changes the consumer's work screen to a spreadsheet should any authority figure be snooping nearby.

Barnes & Noble, meanwhile, is using the web to make its stores more alluring, in part by giving online shoppers a coupon for free cookies and coffee at B&N locations. On the web, the book, music and video retailer is trying to draw in more shoppers to its commerce community by launching an online marketplace at, which is open to other retailers off ering various products not typically sold by the bookseller.

Online music retailer Sam Ash hopes to tie together community and commerce, and boost its search rankings in the process. It is paying $50 to consumers who pen publishable content about subjects important to musicians—this might include how to buy the best tour gear or how to avoid buying counterfeit instruments. Google loves original linkable content, which can lead to higher search rankings, and the marketing eff ort could help the retailer achieve its goal of becoming a Wiki for musicians.

Finally, online movie ticketing service Fandango wants to immerse shoppers in the world of movies by providing news, photos, box offi ce results, trailers, posters and anything else that might win the hearts of film fanatics. And that's on top of Fandango's quick purchasing process and smartphone and tablet apps. Clearly, these retailers know that mere transactions are just part of what makes an e-commerce site outstanding.

E-Retailers Awarded the Hot 100 of Books / Music / Video:


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