By Heather Legg
October 8, 2012
Whenever people shop, whether in physical or online stores, they need to have a pleasant customer experience. As a merchant, it’s your responsibility to make sure that the customers time in your store is smooth and leaves them with a good impression. When considering how this is done… everything matters, not just the product. Consumers appreciate it when stores, virtual or not, are user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing. This doesn’t only benefit the buyer because when the buyer is happy, well…the seller is, too.
When consumers go online to shop, it can be difficult to find exactly what they’re looking for. When they do, however, they want to be able to purchase easily. If an eMerchant is looking to build their own website for their business, it may help them to look around at existing websites for ideas on what look and feel they prefer. For those looking for that certain special experience for their websites, check out some of the following small and medium business storefronts that fit the bill of being user-friendly and visually pleasing:
- StreamlineDesign.com This bright and bold site has many graphic options and looks cute while doing it. From wall graphics to apparel to a print shop and design services, they’ve got you covered. The fun site makes browsing easy, provide an easy check-out, and answers all your questions – just like any great shop should do!
- Gather Looking to make your own blog pop? Try out WordPress’s Gather theme, where you can not only blog, but also sell your wares and show yourself off, all packaged in one great look.
- HeidisHeavenlyCookies.com Not only are these little cookies absolutely to die for but their products look great! When you want a different type of housewarming gift or maybe something unique for a business gift or get well gift, check Heidi’s cookies out. Browse this site and see how a small cookie business uses a smart eCommerce software to to get the job done through excellent product images and ease of use. Your mouth will be watering and you’ll get some great ideas at the same time!
- LawnandHouseDecor.com This whimsical site offers the best in décor for your home, including mailbox covers, flags, and seasonal doormats and puts it’s product line-up in a fun, easy-to-navigate, easy-to-shop set-up. Lawn and House Décor knows what it’s doing with its website. Check it out for some great ideas on building your own.
- Etsy This is THE place to shop for handmade crafts and the site makes your experience with them just as much as fun as shopping at the mall. With Etsy, it’s easy to get around and find just what you are looking for, from jewelry to scarves to any kind of craft or vintage clothes. Check out the site and all the storefronts within for some great ideas on building a small/medium business website.
- ZoxStraps.com Young, trendy and lively, the Zox storefront showcases the enthusiasm of the founders and the product… wrist “straps” not bands! The positive vibe not only portrays the company, but will rub off on any customer browsing the site. It’s super warm and welcoming as well as user-friendly.
- Micheleng.com Take a deep relaxing breath and look at this blog. Whimsical, charming, and peaceful, this website conveys its message with more than words and pictures – it’s emphasizes simplicity and bundles blogging and selling.
Whether you are buying or you’re selling, the website matters. A buyer wants ease-of-use and aesthetics; the seller should be able to offer that. Take a look around for just what you want; it has to be out there!
Guest author Heather Legg is an author who writes for a variety of websites including Business.com.
January 3, 2012
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The 2011 holiday shopping season is officially over and retailers have shifted their focus to the heaps of holiday gift returns coming in as we begin the New Year. Holiday returns are up 8% this year from the same time last year, which is due to more confident consumers and a 15% increase in online shopping profits this holiday season. Consumers engaged in more online spending this year than ever before resulting in $35.3 billion in ecommerce sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25.
Along with increased confidence in ecommerce spending, this year marked the first time since the financial crisis in 2008 that consumers have been notably less price sensitive during the holiday shopping season. According to a survey released last week by ForeSee, a customer experience analytics firm, free shipping, above competitive pricing, increased consumer satisfaction. The study found that Americans were less price sensitive during the 2011 holiday shopping season. Along with finding shoppers were less price sensitive this past holiday season, the study also highlighted the benefits of increased Customer satisfaction such as increased sales, loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.
According to ForeSee, Amazon leads the pack in customer satisfaction, which is likely due to a combination of marketing efforts, customer service, inventory and competitive prices.
Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee, commented on Amazon’s unyielding success:
“E-retailers have consistently upped their game since we first started measuring holiday satisfaction in 2005, but Amazon is still the 800-pound gorilla of retail, and it just keeps getting better. It’s tough for a smaller retailer to compete with this level of dedication to providing an excellent customer experience.”
Although Amazon is known for competitive prices, retailers should shift their focus from a price-battle to a battle for customer satisfaction through different avenues. Freed also explained, “The aggressive promotions and discounts helped sales, but consumers wanted more from retailers.”
There are several ways (excluding price) e-tailers can ensure customers are highly satisfied with their online shopping experience. There are 4 categories that are particularly prevalent when it comes to customer satisfaction on ecommerce websites. These include:
- Free Shipping. As explored in ForeSee’s study, free shipping attracted many customers to spend their money online this holiday season. Free shipping is great for ecommerce solutions because it not only initially entices shoppers, but also provides and outstanding customer experience. There can be challenges that arise with offering free shipping, but oftentimes it is an explicit expectation of shoppers.
- Experience. Sites that are easy to navigate and provide useful and accurate information provide high customer satisfaction.
- Convenience. In a face-paced and busy culture, shoppers look for ecommerce conveniences like 24/7 availability and one-click checkout. If your shopping cart is not optimized for consumer convenience, satisfaction rates decline.
- Reliability. Do items ship quickly? Are consumers getting what they expect? Website reliability increases consumer confidence in your ecommerce solution and is a primary factor leading to customer satisfaction.
December 20, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
A new study shows more holiday shoppers are bound to make last minute purchases this year. A recent survey by BIGresearch found that by the second week of December the majority of shoppers had completed less than 50% of their holiday shopping. According to the study, 37 million Americans had not yet started their holiday shopping by the second week of December.
For those shoppers who have yet to complete their holiday shopping and are desperately looking for quick and meaningful gifts to give this Christmas, ecommerce solution Nonprofitsshoppingmall.com allows consumers to give to non profits causes while picking up gifts online.
Shoppers who take advantage of Nonprofitshoppingmall.com (NPSM) can purchase things they would normally buy from their favorite brands for regular market price and give back to non-profit organizations of their choice. When a consumer shops through the NPSM ecommerce solution, a donation is made to their favorite charity.
NPSM has partnerships with hundreds of retailers, including ecommerce giants like Amazon, Macy’s, Barnes and Noble, Netflix, Target, Best Buy, Expedia and Nordstrom. Using the NPSM site search engine, shoppers can find supported retailers selling products from home improvement to beauty supplies. All retailers listed on the website pay a commission to NPSM for every sale that originates from a click-through from NPSM. The donations are a specified percentage of the commission profits and are passed on to a non-profit chosen by the shopper. Shoppers can see the percentage of their purchase that will be donated on the NPSM beneath retailers’ logos, which varies for every company.
NPSM just last week introduced their latest tool for online cause shopping, a Facebook Shop-and-Give Tab. The Shop-and-give Tab allows Facebook fans and friends of participating non-profits to click through to the private label online malls.
President of NPSM, Corine Couwnberg, commented on the benefits of the company’s new Facebook tab:
“We are excited to be able to provide this new tool. It enables our non-profit partners to reach all their social media friends without incurring the cost of traditional printed campaigns. Furthermore it opens the way to online shopping from iPads, tablets and smart phones. We are confident that the new easy access will make cause shopping even more accessible. Some organizations have hundreds of thousands of fans and friends on Facebook. Estimating that Americans will spend nearly 30 billion dollars online this season, and earmark and average of 3% this could result in millions in raised funds.”
NPSM has been around for over a decade and is joined by several other online charity shopping malls including We-Care.com and GoodShop.com. We-Care and GoodShop are set up very similar to NPSM with contracts with 600 and 2,500 retailers respectively. GoodShop varies from the others of its kind because it donates a percentage of sales rather than a portion of commission. GoodShop makes donations of 3% to 30% to an organization of a shoppers choice.
Shoppers who have yet to complete their holiday shopping can enjoy giving back to charity with no extra cost to them through Nonprofitshoppingmall.com and various other philanthropic ecommerce solutions.
December 16, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Ecommerce solution eBay coined the term “Green Monday” in 2007 to describe the second Monday in December, which for the past six years has marked the most (or second-most in 2005 and 2007) profitable shopping day of the year for online retailers. “Green Monday” has been exceptionally profitable for the past several years, but this holiday shopping season has blown previous season’s out of the water and merits the more appropriate name of “Manic Mondays.”
According to a study released by ComScore, the past 3 Mondays have all seen ecommerce profits exceeding $1 billion. Cyber Monday saw record breaking sales amounting to $1.25 billion, which, according to ComScore’s report, was followed by $1.17 billion in sales on Monday December 5, and sales of $1.13 billion this past Monday, December 12. This year’s string of “Manic Monday” sales mark the three most profitable online shopping days of 2011 and the continuing holiday success for ecommerce solutions.
In total, holiday shopping (from Nov. 1 to Dec. 12) has so far reached nearly $25 billion, up 15 percent from the same period last year. ComScore also reported a record of $6.1 billion spent in just last week ending December 11.
The most profitable product category this holiday season has been digital content and subscriptions, with a growth rate double that of the online sector as a whole. Jewelry and watches is the second-fastest growing category and consumer electronics led by flat screen TV’s and tablets rounds out the third.
Holiday ecommerce in the U.S. is expected to remain steady and increase 15 percent this year compared to the same time in 2010. The gains in online commerce significantly shadows the 2 to 3 percent gains predicted for overall retail sales this holiday season.
ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni commented on this year’s holiday spending:
“These highlights represent another very positive sign for the holiday shopping season, as the week following ‘Cyber Week’ often experiences relative softness in spending momentum due to retailers pulling back on their promotional activity. As we enter what will be the heaviest week of the season for online retailers – beginning with ‘Green Monday’ on December 12 – all signs are now pointing to a strong finish to the season.”
Ecommerce accounts for less 5 percent of consumer spending, leaving ecommerce solutions like eBay and Amazon to vie for shopper’s business by offering discounts and daily promotions. eBay opened up several pop-up stores for shoppers who want to check out products in-person before making purchase and shoppers have seen more free shipping offers than ever from Amazon this year.
December 12, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Many small brick and mortar retailers around the country were less than pleased with Amazon’s promotion of their new Price Check mobile application this past weekend. On Saturday (12/10), Amazon offered customers a 5% discount up to $5 for using the new application. The application, called Price Check, enables shoppers to compare Amazon prices with product prices in physical stores. The information can be relayed through the app by scanning bar codes, photographing the product, speaking the product name or sending a text message. The promotion was eligible for up to three items, which saved some customers a total of $15.
This promotion caused a big huff among small brick and mortar retailers who felt the promotion was encouraging shoppers to come into their stores but leave without buying anything. Another aspect of Saturday’s deal that irked retailers is that Amazon isn’t required to collect state sales tax from online sales. Because of this, products are always cheaper on the ecommerce solution than at physical stores where sales tax is required.
Retailers selling music, DVD’s, electronics, sporting goods and toys were effected the most on Saturday as those were the products Amazon’s promotion focused on.
Although brick and mortar retailers see the purpose of the Price Check application as predatory towards small businesses, Amazon insists it’s purpose is to save shoppers money. Sam Hall, director of Amazon Mobile, said this about the application:
“Price transparency means that you can save money on the products you want and that’s a great thing for customers. Price Check in-store deals are another incentive to shop smart this holiday season.”
A statement on Amazon’s website stated, “By sharing prices, this helps ensure our prices remain competitive for our customers.”
On main point of contention with protesters of Amazon’s promotion was the unfair advantage Amazon has over pricing because they are not required to collect sales tax. Although the government is working on a bill that will require ecommerce solutions that sell more than $1 million a year in the United States and over $100,000 in a particular state to collect state sales tax. Currently, Amazon is not required to collect any sales tax from shoppers making their prices inherently cheaper.
Retail Industry Leaders Association’s executive vice president for public affairs, Katherine Lugar, had this to say about Amazon’s promotion:
“Retailers compete on price 365 days a year, and at no time is that competition hotter than during the make-or-break holiday shopping season.However, by continuing to evade collecting state sales taxes, Amazon’s exploitation of a pre-Internet tax loophole is resulting in a 6 to 10 percent perceived price advantage over their competitors on Main Street.”
Amazon further defended the promotion, insisting that it was meant for price comparisons in “major” retail stores.
December 5, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Walmart, one of the highest grossing retailers on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, last week launched a holiday shopping gift-guide application on Facebook called Shopycat. Created by @WalmartLabs, Walmart’s tech shop in the Silicon Valley, the app is designed to help users with often difficult task of Christmas shopping for friends.
The application officially went live on Wednesday evening (11/30) and has already drawn 8,000 users to the platform. Users can download the app directly from Walmart’s Facebook fan page, which has close to 11 million fans. Shopycat is easy to operate, allowing users to scroll through their friends or search by name and providing a selection of gifts that person would enjoy. Users can also check out the gifts suggested for them. Shopycat creates gift suggestions for friends based on data from their Facebook profiles such as interests and likes.
The gift suggestions offered on the app are sometimes creepily accurate and at times hilariously erroneous. Users can personally edit their profile and add interests to ensure Shopycat gives their friends good gift recommendations. Currently Shopycat has more that 600,000 items in its gift database, which is comprised of Walmart products in addition to items from Barnes and Noble, NBC Universal, ThinkGeek and more. @WalmartLabs has partnered with 20 retailers to ensure a wide range of gift offerings. The database includes many special edition products as they are viewed as more “gift worthy”.
If there is not enough information on a friends interests to generate gift ideas, Shopycat provides generic suggestions like a Starbucks gift-pack, a George Foreman Quesadilla Maker, and various other gifts that tend to be Walmart best-sellers. Users may also encounter suggestions of gift cards from Walmart.com, iTunes, and Zynga.
@WalmartLabs Shopycat app may look similar to GiveEmThis.com, a web app launched by Imply Labs in September of this year. The two applications provide strikingly similar services, but do so through different platforms. As a web app, GiveEmThis.com integrates several different social media platforms, while @WalmartLabs only incorporates Facebook. The most notable difference between the two apps is their business models. @WalmartLabs serves Walmart’s technology needs specifically, while Imply Labs provides a universal service to all online retailers.
Shopycat joins several other social gifting apps on the Facebook platform such as Giftiki. Giftiki is a group gift giving platform, launched in October, that allows Facebook friends pool their money together to buy a combined gift for friends’ birthdays, holidays, weddings, and other gift-worthy occasions.
November 28, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Holiday shopping season 2011 got off to a great start with retailers reporting record-breaking Black Friday sales in both brick-and-mortar and online storefronts. According to research by comScore released yesterday, online sales in the U.S. surged on Black Friday and generated an estimated $816 million, up from $648 million last Black Friday. Brick-and-mortar retail sales dwarfed that number with a reported $11.4 billion in sales on Black Friday alone.
The report released by comScore showed that ecommerce spending on Black Friday jumped 26% this year, even though researchers thought brick-and-mortar store deals would detract from the amount of consumers opting to shop online. Also reported, overall traffic on ecommerce websites was up 35% from last year. The ecommerce solutions who boasted the most consumer traffic were Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Apple.
Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman, further explained the research:
“Amazon.com once again led the pack, with 50% more visitors than any other retailer, while also showing the highest growth rate versus last year. However, it is telling that the top multi-channel retailers also showed strong growth in visitors, demonstrating the importance of the online channel to the retail industry as a whole.”
U.S. shoppers have spent $12.7 billion online so far this holiday season, which is up 15% compared in 2010, comScore also reported. Online traffic and consumer spending online are both expected to be surpassed today, Cyber Monday.
Cyber Monday spending has been predicted to reach a record $1.2 billion, which, if Black Friday spending is some indication, will prove to be a low estimate. If profits reach $1.2 billion (and we’re assuming they will) it will mark only the second time ever that a billion dollars in ecommerce sales has occurred in one day. Last year, Cyber Monday was the most profitable day for online spending throughout 2010 and this year has already seen a 15% increase in sales from Cyber Monday 2010.
Ecommerce giant Amazon and competitor Best Buy are making a big Cyber Monday push with outstanding deal offerings. Shoppers looking for electronics, toys and other products can take advantage of deep discounts found on both Amazon and Best Buy in addition to Overstock.com and Barnes and Noble. Overstock and Barnes and Noble shoppers can take advantage of exceptional deals offered today only.
Amazon and mega-retailer Walmart are taking Cyber Monday a step further and transforming the “holiday” into a full week of online shopping. Consumers will find lightning deals on Amazon along with other discounts on Walmart.com for the rest of the week.
November 22, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
It’s still days before notorious Black Friday, but a series of e-tailers have already launched unbeatable deals. Amazon.com along with Walmart, Toys “R” Us, Sears, Target, and eBay are currently hosting Black Friday deals on their online stores- all of which started 4 days early! Featured deals from these ecommerce giants cover a broad range of categories including electronics, books, movies, sporting goods, and toys.
However, it should be mentioned that not everyone is as excited about these early deals as we are; a host of retailers are facing opposition from the “Respect the Bird” campaign. This group is strongly opposed to retailers who are offering Black Friday deals on or before Thanksgiving Day. Supporters of the “Respect the Bird” campaign believe the prominence of the Thanksgiving holiday is diminished by shopper’s obsession with getting the best holiday deals.
While we understand the concerns of the “Respect the Bird” campaign, we think a little pre-Black Friday shopping never hurt anyone! Although most deals started yesterday, there are still many great savings shoppers can still get their hands on. Amazon has hundreds of Black Friday deals already available to shoppers, including lightening deals. Lightening deals are extra special savings only available for a certain period of time (usually a couple hours). Shoppers will need to visit Amazon’s site themselves to check out currently available lightening deals, but there are many deals available all week long. Below we have highlighted a few of the best Black Friday deals Amazon is offering this week.
Amazon Black Friday Deals on Electronics
Haier L32D1120 32-Inch 720p LCD HDTV- For those shoppers looking for a brand new LCD High-Definition TV to fulfill a loved ones wish list, this Haier television is currently on sale for $199.99. With it’s sleek and attractive design it fits in any room of the home and has top-of-the-line features such as PC Input, USB input for digital photos and music, and multiple HD inputs.
Fujifilm FinePix F505- This camera boasts 16 MP CMOS Sensor and 15x Optical Zoom Digital Camera with 4 GB Class 10 SD Memory Card. It would be a great gift for the amateur photographers who prefer a point-and-shoot camera but don’t want to sacrifice photo quality. This week only, the FinePix F505 can be snagged for just $199.00.
Amazon Black Friday Deals for DVDs and Blue-Ray
Bridesmaids- Get your hands on one of the most hilarious comedies of the year just in time for Black Firday for only $9.99. For those without a Blue-Ray player, Bridesmaids on DVD can be picked up for only $5.99 on Amazon this week.
HappyFeet- For those with children on their holiday shopping agenda, Happy Feet (2007) in Blue-Ray can be purchased for under $10 as well.
Amazon Black Friday Deals for Toys and Games
Fisher-Price Disney’s Rock Star Mickey- This week only, Rock Star Mickey is on sale for $39.97. Mickey is the perfect gift for children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old. He jams on his guitar, says cool phrases, and can even drop down into the splits.
LeapFrog Leapster Educational Game Dora the Explorer- Select LeapFrog games are 50% off this week on Amazon, including the Leapster Educational Game Dora the Explorer. Children between 4 and 6 can choose between 5 different learning games to help Dora save the animals. Available this week for the special Black Friday price of $12.49.
For a more comprehensive list of toys and games, Amazon’s 2011 Holiday Toy List was released at the beginning of the month.
November 21, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Just in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Southwest Airlines has launched Rapid Rewards Shopping, a new online program through which loyalty members can earn points by redeeming special offers from hundreds of online retailers. The launch of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards Shopping program marks the first time frequent fliers will be able to accrue rewards points from their online purchases.
Rapid Rewards Shopping operates similar to most other credit card reward programs. Once members are logged into their Rapid Rewards Shopping account, they will be presented with online sales and promotions from partnered retailers. When shoppers access one of those retailers’ websites and make a purchase, they will be granted rewards points. The Rapid Rewards website will also have useful features such as an integrated search, current promotions, price comparison tool and personalized recommendations for customers.
Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program is powered by Cartera Commerce, which provides card-linked marketing solutions. Cartera’s platform will allow the airline company to access retailer offers using its Offer Cloud. It will also allow Southwest to display offers on several marketing channels, track offer redemption, and distribute Rapid Rewards points. The Cartera platform also ensures users security and privacy.
Director of Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, Jonathan Clarkson discussed the new program:
“We are continually looking to add ways for our Members to earn points, and what better time than the holidays to add shopping at top online retailers to the mix. We selected Cartera because they have the most comprehensive offer platform that meets our needs today and gives us the flexibility to easily expand the program in the future. We expect our Members will be delighted with the program.”
Southwest will also attempt to get their piece of the Cyber Monday pie by running a special promotion of the Rapid Rewards Shopping program. On Cyber Monday, shoppers will accumulate double rewards points when purchases are made from Home Depot, Macy’s, Sears and Barnes & Noble. With the projection that shoppers will spend an average of $516 on gifts this holiday season, millions of points could potentially be awarded to members of Southwest’s new program.
The Rapid Rewards program has over 700 participating online retailers and will feature deals from a variety of product categories including electronics, home improvement, clothing, music, and more. As of now the program is only available for online shoppers, but Southwest plans to expand Rapid Rewards Shopping by adding new rewards channels in 2012.
November 7, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday swiftly approaching, Amazon has released their much-anticipated 2011 Holiday Toy List. Revealed on Wednesday (11/2), this year’s Toy List features items such as games, movies, electronics, and sporting goods in addition to popular toys. Amazon’s list is a great tool for parents who are fighting to keep up with popular toy trends. The toy list can be filtered by different categories like “Gifts for Girls,” “Gifts for Boys,” “Top Video Game Gifts,” “Games and Puzzle Gifts,” etc. Shoppers will also find it helpful to further filter the categories by organizing them according to price, rating, and best sellers.
Toys ‘R’ Us released their 2011 Holiday Hot Toy List at the end of September, which included several of the gifts on Amazon’s list. However, Amazon’s list highlights hundreds of toys and is much larger than the Hot Toy list. It also has a lot more variety for children of different age groups.
There are around 600 toys on the list, ranging in price from $6 to $360. The most expensive toy that made the list is National Products 12 Chevrolet Camaro Ride-on coming in at $359.99, while the cheapest is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, ringing up at $5.99 plus shipping. Below are a few of the most popular toys this 2011 holiday season. As usual on Amazon, the prices of these items are subject to fluctuation.
Let’s Rock Elmo: This toy is ready to rock out with children ages 18 months to 4 years. Elmo comes with a microphone, drum set and tambourine and is able to “magically” recognize which instrument is placed in front of him. Kids can also play along with Elmo as he sings his songs with the drums and tambourine that are perfectly sized for little hands. Elmo can also interact with the LET’S ROCK! guitar, keyboard and microphone (all sold separately). Let’s Rock Elmo is currently priced at $54.88.
Razor Graffiti Chalk Scooter: Recommended for children aged 6 and older, the Graffiti Chalk Scooter lets kids leave their mark while they ride. Equipped with 6 non-toxic chalk sticks, your child can make colorful designs while they ride around the neighborhood on this coveted Razor scooter. The sleek design features foam handlebars and a patented folding system for easy transport and storage. Those who are wishing to purchase the Razor Graffiti Chalk Scooter can expect to pay $49.94 on Amazon.
LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet: Watch your kids have fun while they expand their knowledge of subjects like science, reading, and mathematics. The tablet, made by LeapFrog, comes with a built-in camera, which allows kids to create interactive art. The LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet features a design that will withstand shaking, flipping, and turning. The tablet is designed for children ages 4 to 9 and comes with a library with over 100 learning games and apps. This tablet for kids is currently available for $99.
Hot Wheels Wall Tracks Starter Set: Hot Wheels continues to innovate this year with the Wall Tracks Starter Set. This track mounts to the wall, bringing Hot Wheels stunts to new heights. This set can be connected to other track sets or used alone. The full-color template gives you incredibly simple instructions on how to assemble the set–and most of the construction can be done by children. The track set comes with a Hot Wheels Car, 3M Command Strips for mounting, and the easy instructions poster for the hot price of $27.88.
Kodak EasyShare Sport: This camera is perfect for your future photographer. The Kodak EasyShare Sport can be used under up to 10 feet of water and is also built to withstand exposure to sand, dirt, and dust. The camera features a share button that lets you tag, e-mail, or share your pictures and videos on popular social networking sites. It’s available in gray, blue, and red. Currently listed at $72.41, the price of this camera cannot be beat.
October 26, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Earlier this month Barnes & Noble began pulling 100 DC graphic novel titles from shelves in its brick-and-mortar stores.
The decision came after DC Entertainment made an exclusive digital deal with ecommerce solution Amazon to supply graphic novels for the new Kindle Fire. DC fans can still get the comics from Barnes & Noble but will have to order them from the company’s online store. Jaime Carey, Barnes & Noble chief merchandising officer, said the following about the decision:
“To sell and promote the physical book in our store showrooms and not have the e-book available for sale would undermine our promise to Barnes & Noble customers to make available any book, anywhere, any time.”
Many DC comic authors find the bookseller’s decision strange and frustrating. What the sudden action by Barnes & Noble ultimately means for authors is that dozens of their titles will not receive any exposure to fans in 1300 brick-and-mortar stores. Neil Gaiman, author of DC’s “Sandman” series, had this to say:
“I’m biased: 12 percent of the titles that they’ve physically removed were written by me. From my perspective, it’s a ridiculous overreaction [by Barnes & Noble]. The idea that these people [Amazon] have a digital exclusive, therefore [B&N] will give them a physical exclusive, too — I’m not sure it’s a sane business practice.”
In addition to the “Sandman” series, the 100 titles that will now only be available on Barnes & Noble’s ecommerce solution include many “Batman”, “Superman”, and “Green Lantern” comics. In the meantime, Barnes & Noble will be stocking its comic shelves with an increased selection of 2000 AD comics. Titles will include a number of comics written by British author Alan Moore, co-creator of DC’s “V for Vendetta”, such as the well-known “Future Shocks” series.
Barnes & Noble has been moving to compete more and more with Amazon as a one-stop ecommerce solution. Last week the bookseller began selling home products such as cooking utensils online. The thinking behind this decision is that if people are buying cookbooks online, why not sell utensils too?
Five new shopping categories will be added to the Barnes & Noble website including Home and Gift, Consumer Electronics, Toys and Games, Arts and Crafts, and Baby. With this move the bookseller is stepping its competition with Amazon outside of just the book and ereader arena. However, Barnes & Noble won’t be carrying most of these new items in its own inventory, rather it will be taking a commission from third-party merchants.
The deal between DC Entertainment and Amazon to supply digital formats of popular graphic novels exclusively for the Kindle Fire is likely not permanent. DC has stated that it will continue to explore all potential partnerships. The bottom line is that the company just wants to make its comics available to as many fans as possible in both digital format and hard copy.
October 24, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Looking for that perfect holiday gift but can’t afford the full retail price? Want to know what top designers, tech giants and celebrities are dreaming of this year? Or maybe you need to reward yourself–since about 60 percent of shoppers admit they will buy themselves a gift this holiday season. If you’re in the NYC area, head over to 404 Park Avenue South between now and November 10 to check out eBay’s and designer Jonathan Adler’s new “Inspiration Shop.”
The storefront was unveiled on Friday, and it allows passersby to act on their impulses. Think of it as modified window shopping–except this time you actually make a purchase, even though you never enter the store. Potential shoppers walk by, and a name, product or pattern catches their eye. They read a little bit about it and raise their smartphones to the display. There, if they’ve downloaded the eBay app, they can scan any of the available QR codes to find similar items on eBay, allowing for price comparison. There are about 200 million eBay listings available on the app.
The window displays feature exclusive products selected by fashion favorites like Betsey Johnson, Charlotte Ronson, Molly Sims and more. It isn’t only designers, though: actors, editors, photographers and musicians were among those asked for their wishlist items. Jonathan Adler contributed his bold patterned designs to provide a visually exciting background for the showcase.
eBay’s Chief Marketing Officer, Richelle Parham, commented on the new concept:
“Consumers today expect to shop how they want, when they want – and mobile technology is blurring the lines between online and offline retail to meet this demand. The Inspiration Shop brings to life how eBay enables people to immediately act on their passion for shopping in this new commerce environment.”
46.7 percent of surveyed shoppers plan to buy gifts online this year, completing about 36 percent of their total shopping via ecommerce solutions. Since about 48 percent of shoppers say they want to be able to purchase desired items immediately, and 46 percent like to browse window displays to get ideas, the eBay Inspiration Shop seems right on target. Consumers’ biggest issues with brick-and-mortar shopping, especially around the holidays, helped inspire (yes, inspire) the concept for the Inspiration Shop. A survey found that 57 percent of consumers hate long lines, 54 percent despise stores with too many shoppers, 52 percent are deterred by commission-driven or otherwise invasive sales people, and 65 percent feel there isn’t enough selection or availability in physical stores.
Although a majority of shoppers–62 percent–hope to spend less on their holiday gift buying this year, consumers are turning to digital shopping carts more frequently. E-tailers should focus on offering incentives like free shipping and discounts, and make sure their brand is top-of-mind so that people will spread the word about their store via social media. That way, the difficulties of the economy don’t have to be quite so difficult for all ecommerce solutions.
With a combination of impulse buys and comparison shopping, such as can be found at eBay’s Inspiration Shop, consumers and online retailers alike can get what they want out of this holiday season. What do you think about the Inspiration Shop and its limited engagement? Would you like to see something like this in your area, and in a more permanent capacity?
October 21, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Three major publishers will soon provide authors with access to book sales data online through new author portals.
Publisher Simon & Schuster announced Wednesday the creation of its author portal that will allow authors and illustrators to see data online about the sales of their published material. Authors will have access to the last six weeks of sales data broken down by different types of booksellers and book formats. There will be data for e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook sales.
Simon & Schuster’s author portal will also feature tools for authors to manage online interactions with readers. In addition, the publisher has released a portal for agents that will provide information similar to that stored on the author site.
Two other major publishers, Random House and the Hachette Book Group, also announced Wednesday that they are in the process of creating ecommerce solutions for authors. Hachette’s author portal will be up and running sometime in 2012; Random House has not publicly announced a date for the launch of their site. A spokesman for Random House said that their author portal will feature marketing tools and other information in addition to sales data.
This marks the first time that major publishers have provided authors with direct access to data about their book sales. Previously it could take months for authors to get information about how well their books were selling and they often would have to go through their agents to get data from a publisher. The new sites should ease some of the tension between authors and publishers regarding the availability of sales information.
Back in December 2010 ecommerce solution Amazon began offering authors access to Nielsen BookScan sales data. Nielsen BookScan provides limited data about print sales of books and, through Amazon’s “Author Central” site, authors can track the past four weeks of a book’s sales. BookScan is estimated to report on approximately 75 percent of print sales and does not track e-book sales. Amazon itself keeps track of e-book sales but currently only reports the figures to publishers and not to authors themselves.
The launch of services allowing authors direct access to sales data about their published material means that authors will be notified much sooner than in the past if their books are not doing well. With timely access to sales figures and information, authors will be better able to address problems and come up with a plan to market their books more effectively and boost shopping cart sales. Some of the additional tools and resources that these new author portals will provide to authors are focused on marketing strategies including the use of social media sites such as Twitter, as well as video promotion through sites like YouTube.
October 13, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
L2 recently released its third annual Digital IQ Index for fashion, which ranks the digital competence of 49 prestigious fashion brands.
The index ranks the brands based on the effectiveness of their digital strategies across four categories: site, digital marketing, social media, and mobile. Brands were given digital IQ scores that fall into one of five rankings: genius, gifted, average, challenged, or feeble.
According to the index’s methodology, a brand’s website accounts for 35 percent of its overall digital IQ score. Nine sites of the 49 brands studied did not have an ecommerce solution, which significantly lowered their score. Brands that did have ecommerce-enabled websites averaged 19 percent more visits per user. The U.S. has the most brands selling online, at 79 percent, with the U.K. coming in second at 61 percent, while other European countries came in third at 41 percent.
The top two brands studied, falling into the genius ranking category, were Burberry and Kate Spade. Factors that led to Burberry’s number one spot are its high quality ecommerce-enabled site, Facebook page with more than 8.6 million fans, Twitter handle with 565,790 followers, and Instagram account with more than 86,000 followers. Kate Spade is doing some innovative things with social media and on the brand’s ecommerce solution. For example, an automatic email is sent to customers who abandon their shopping carts, offering them free shipping as an incentive to complete their order.
Social media presence, and the ability for customers to share information about fashion items via social media, are other big contributors to brands’ overall digital IQ scores. Fifty-seven percent of consumers surveyed reported that information they get through social media influences their luxury purchases. Only 57 percent of the brands studied allow users to Tweet products from their product pages, and only 53 percent allow users to share products on Facebook. According to the study, social media accounts for more than 14 percent of traffic going to a fashion brand’s website, and the majority of this traffic is from Facebook.
The mobile category was the least influential of L2’s four digital competence categories, but still accounted for 15 percent of a brand’s overall digital IQ score. Forty percent of consumers likely to buy luxury fashion products access the Internet from a smartphone daily, but only 18 percent of the brands studied provide mobile sites with ecommerce solutions. The majority of the 49 brands’ mobile sites have limited functionality, although some of the brands do offer mobile commerce apps.
Other interesting key findings from the study include that 10 of the top 15 brands are based in the U.S., compared to 6 in 2010. U.S.-based brands have the highest overall digital IQ rankings, followed closely by the U.K., Italy, and France. According to the study, a higher digital IQ translates to a higher shareholder value, so brands should take a close look at what they are doing across the four digital competence categories to see what they can improve on.
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