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We've interviewed nearly 100 industry experts this year on various topics, from affiliate marketing to web analytics.
I've gathered together our interviews on the subject of e-commerce in 2009, all 21 of them...
Two thirds of online retailers have seen a 30% fall in their revenues since the Royal Mail strike began, and a third have seen a drop of around 24% in visitors numbers.
In a IMRG survey of online retailers, 85% believe that, with no sign of a resolution to the dispute in sight, the strike will discourage people from shopping online this Christmas.
With the Royal Mail strike going ahead today and tomorrow, there will naturally be some doubt in customers' minds over whether their online purchases will arrive on time, or at all.
Those online retailers that have made alternative arrangements for deliveries, or who don't rely on Royal Mail anyway, can do a lot to reassure customers with some timely messaging on their websites. So how are etailers communicating this information to visitors?
Dan Wagner is founder and chairman of Venda, a full service e-commerce platform, which has several big name clients in the US and UK, and recently won the contract to provide Tesco's next e-commerce site.
Lack of trust and security concerns are still holding people back from shopping online, though consumer confidence has grown significantly over the last few years.
According to a consumer survey (pdf) carried out by the Office of Fair Trading, nearly one in three are put off from shopping online. For 30%, lack of trust was the biggest reason, followed by concerns over personal security (20%) while 15% said they did not trust companies that sell online.
If ever a retailer could get away with having exceptional cross-selling and up-selling functionality, yet provide a new visitor checkout process and web forms that break many usability rules, Amazon is certainly one of them. On the other hand one of Amazon's competitors, The Book Depository, certainly appears to focus more on providing better usability throughout the buying journey, especially for new customers.
Following the recent e-commerce training course I delivered for Econsultancy, the usability benchmarking that is part of the course threw up some really interesting market insights. Although many retailers are featured in the course, providing examples of good and bad e-tail usability and best practice, I purposely refrained from including Amazon.
Now with our economy firmly in a recession, most retailers no longer have the types of budgets available to replatform. Instead, 2009 will be a year for improving their existing platforms, trying to increase conversion rates, average order values and returning visitor numbers.
So with this primary drive to improve performance, are retailers doing all that they can? Are retailers following best practice to help more visitors complete the buying process, and are retailers removing usability barriers to ensure that in such competitive times visitors aren’t encouraged to find reasons why they shouldn’t complete their purchase?
Although e-commerce is one of the relatively stable industries in these challenging times, it does not guarantee that any individual etailer will survive the downturn we are seeing in the UK economy. However, there is one important step that can be taken to minimise the risk, as outlined within the new E-commerce Platforms Buyer's Guide.