January 3, 2013, 3:02 PM

Experience required

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Nardone says his No. 2 priority going into 2013 is to reinforce PriveCo's key selling point, which is that it keeps all customer information confidential. Privacy has been a tenet for the company since its start in 1998, but he has to hammer away at it even more now that competition has increased from Amazon and other online retailers. "Amazon sells pretty much everything we sell," he says. "Every Internet retail business should look at themselves and at Amazon and say, 'Here's what we do that Amazon doesn't do' and focus on that."

Given the sensitive nature of the products, Nardone wants to make sure consumers understand that they can shop privately at PriveCo. He intends to star in more promotional videos on the site, talking up the company's approach to privacy, how it protects consumers' data and why consumers won't receive marketing e-mails from the company. "This is what we do and why customers shop with us and we want new customers to know it too," he says.

Expert insights

What makes Backcountry.com different from other outdoor apparel and gear retailers is the level of product expertise the e-retailer's staff brings, says Jill Layfield, Backcountry.com's CEO. And while that's always been Backcountry's primary selling point, it chose to refocus its energies in 2012 on replatforming its handful of e-retail sites from a patchwork of homegrown e-commerce systems to a single system from Oracle Corp. Layfield says the operational efficiencies achieved through the move to a single platform will enable Backcountry in 2013 to address a backlog of customer experience ideas it wants to implement.

"We have the foundation laid now with Oracle, and now it is really about layering on what is going to separate Backcountry.com from our competition," Layfield says. "Our goal is to give something extra to our customer that she is not going to find elsewhere. We are asking, 'What do our customers need and what are we uniquely positioned to provide them?'" Layfield says that's also why the e-retailer limits what it sells through its Amazon store to products such as gloves and jacket shells that consumers don't typically need or want expert advice in choosing.

Across the company, the e-retailer employs gearheads that are experts in the ski, bike and hike gear Backcountry.com sells because they use it themselves. Layfield says Backcountry intends to expand into new, adjacent product categories in 2013 but won't say which ones. It'll also launch its first international site in early 2013, although Layfield declines to say which country or countries that site will serve. "There aren't a lot of clear leaders in outdoor specialty retail [outside the United States]. We think there is a big opportunity for a brand like Backcountry to connect gear to people who are passionate about the outdoors," she says.

At specialty retailer ZooStores.com, product catalog and sales growth over the last 18 months has largely outpaced its ability to keep improving the ease of navigating and buying on the site. Behl says fixing that is a top priority in 2013.

"In the second week of January we will be making changes that really help our customers find and decide on the best products that fit their need set," he says. This includes a redesign of ZooStores' search tool and how consumers narrow their selections, he says. ZooStores' merchandising staff also will be producing more site content aimed at helping consumers choose the product that is right for them. This includes detailed buying guides and product videos.

Amid the whirlwind of demands confronting e-retailers today, e-commerce leaders in 2013 are prioritizing the delivery of good, satisfying shopping experiences. In doing so, they expect to turn browsers into buyers and, hopefully, customers for life.



Jill Layfield

Jill Layfield is CEO of Backcountry.com, a web-only e-retailer of outdoor apparel and gear. Backcountry in 2013 will operate six e-commerce sites, down from seven in 2012. Backcountry.com is a unit of Liberty Interactive Corp. Liberty Interactive generated $3.7 billion in sales online in 2011 but does not disclose sales by unit. Its largest property is TV and web retailer QVC.

Layfield's top priorities for 2013

1. Innovate on customer experience

2. Improve and expand mobile commerce capabilities

3. Expand internationally

4. Add new product categories

Tom Nardone

Tom Nardone is CEO of PriveCo Inc., a web-only specialty e-retailer that bills itself as the "world's most private company" and sells the "world's most embarrassing products." It operates 11 e-commerce sites, including Bachelorette.com, Vibrators.com and EnemaSupply.com. It generated about $4 million in sales in 2012.

Nardone's top priorities for 2013

1. Make the customer experience "flawless," from ordering to fulfillment and customer service

2. Make clearer to consumers how PriveCo is different from other e-retail sites

3. Enhance product-specific content to help guide consumers to the right products

Carol Steinberg

Carol Steinberg is chief operating officer for ShopNBC, a TV and web mass merchant retailer. ShopNBC.com, which generated nearly $250 million in sales online in 2011, is owned by ValueVision Media Inc. Steinberg, since 2009, was ShopNBC's executive vice president of e-commerce, marketing and business development before her promotion to COO in October.

Steinberg's top priorities for 2013

1. Innovate to make consumers' shopping experiences "superior"

2. Merge and optimize internal systems to deliver on No. 1 efficiently

3. Advance mobile commerce capabilities

Scott Jordan

Scott Jordan is CEO of ScotteVest Inc., an e-retailer and manufacturer of specialized, branded travel apparel. The majority of the retailer's sales come though ScotteVest.com, although in 2012 the manufacturer did embark on its first attempt at wholesale distribution, selling its goods to about 100 specialty travel stores. It generated about $10 million in online sales in 2011.

Jordan's top priorities for 2013

1. Improve personalized selling techniques

2. Implement technologies that enable better, and more personal, shopping experiences

3. Advance wholesale distribution of its apparel

Nikhil Behl

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