The retail phenomena of Black Friday and Cyber Monday prompted the conversation for Desiree and Joe this week on The Bella Buzz podcast. How has it been for you so far? Have you personally participated in the activities of online shopping or do you have a web site that is geared up for this four week period of intense traffic converting into a strong sales? This week's podcast episode is a discussion about best practices for shopping online.
Numbers from ComScore are already showing major traffic increases at the largest online retailers with measured sales up 11% versus one year ago on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the percentage growth in unique visitors in some cases well over 20%. Cyber Monday showed good growth over last year, but not as much as expected according to Barron's.
Joe attests to the fact that the old days of security and safety related concerns about online shopping are well behind us. Issues do arise from time to time, but it is good to know that even companies as large as American Express and Visa have teams in place to flag potentially fraudulent activity so that consumers are well protected.
Desiree goes through a good tutorial of what goes into developing a strong e-commerce web site. She breaks it down into three areas:
- Site Design, the visual aspects of the site that prompts the targeted audience to perform an action
- Gateway, which is the transaction that connects a secured, verified handshake between the web site and the merchant account. This is where the information is collected and transmitted for processing
- Merchant Account, which is where the payment processing and settlement takes place between the credit card companies and online retailers.
A good idea as an online retailer heading into a major sales period is to check to make sure that all of the pieces are functioning properly. Establish a routine for each year to confirm that account statements are getting sent to current addresses, and there is a process in place to resolve any disputes.
From a fulfillment standpoint including a customer service feature of an email with tracking information is a valuable asset to have in a commerce cart platform. Desiree recommends a cart by Magento that is open source and allows for content management as well as fulfillment and promotional features. Another great advancement to the technology built upon by coders and developers is the inventory control potential. Carts have really come a long way!
As a marketer for retail web sites, don't forget additional marketing channels such as Google Product Search which is fed with information from Google Merchant Center (formerly Google Base), where you can submit entire databases of information in order to increase the search relevancy for the products you sell.
Finally, we announce that the month of December on The Bella Buzz will be reserved for some Year in Review discussions as well as a final podcast of the year where we make some predictions. Stay tuned for those episodes and don't forget to drop us a line in the comments with your own insights into the exciting topics that we cover.
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