November 29, 2012, 2:34 PM

How e-retailers can better connect with consumers

An IRWD speaker talks about how web merchants can differentiate themselves.

Lead Photo

Bernard Luthi

Social media is just one way e-retailers can reach consumers, but many other tools can help, too. In a keynote presentation entitled “At a redesigned, people buy from people–not the Internet,” at the Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability Conference 2013 in February, Bernard Luthi, Rakuten’s chief marketing officer and chief operating officer, will share his insights into how web merchants can design their sites to engage consumers.

“Rakuten’s global vision is to make e-commerce a living process, where retailers and consumers can communicate and discover,” Luthi says. “Our challenge when redesigning was making sure this vision of e-commerce was reflected. But what does ‘living’ e-commerce look like? Even though we had moved away from a deal site in our strategy, we still visually looked like a deal site. We wanted to ensure our site mimicked our strategy.”

Rakuten simplified the design of its home page with a focus on merchants, Luthi says. It also enlarged product images as a way to showcase product categories, which improved the visual appeal of the site. With more appealing category pages, says consumers are more apt to go deeper into the site and visit product pages, and, ultimately, add items to the shopping cart. “We did this by looking at the site design as a whole and not at the individual pages, to ensure a better experience for the user,” Luthi says

Besides describing how e-retailers can better connect with consumers, Luthi will discuss during his keynote case studies that illustrate successful e-commerce tactics and give an overview of ways that e-retailers can serve customers in ways competitors don’t.

Attendees “will learn the specific types of content, tools and features that have supported Rakuten as we take on the evolving e-commerce market and how shoppers have responded to that change,” Luthi says. Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten acquired in 2010 and renamed the U.S. web retailer Rakuten

Internet Retailer’s editors asked Luthi to speak because of leadership at, and his experience working for electronics e-retailer and technology distributor Ingram Micro.

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