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Marks & Spencer announced its Christmas trading figures today, with like for like sales up by 5.6%, including a 70% increase in online earnings.
The move represents another success story for the etail sector in the 2006 Christmas season, with online sales rising dramatically compared with 2005. More and more shoppers have wisely chosen to avoid the stress and hassle of high street shopping in favour of buying online.
I foolishly took a trip into central London on Saturday, to try and find a new cricket bat at Lillywhites. As I’ve been abroad for the past few years and only recently returned to the UK, I didn’t know that the store had undergone some severe changes.
Suffice to say it is not a rewarding experience - particularly for anyone looking for sporting equipment rather than clothing, and for anyone with a pram. It's so full you can hardly get down the aisles, and the one lift it has doesn't go to all floors...
Anyway, this unhappiness could have been avoided, of course, if Lillywhites had its own website and I’d been able to check its selection beforehand.
Online retailers have had a more successful Christmas than their high street counterparts, with IMRG reporting that high street sales are down , and online sales up by between 40 and 50% compared to 2005.
Larger internet retailers like Tesco and Amazon seem to have enjoyed a particularly successful Christmas period, with both setting records for online sales.
uSuggest is a social shopping site that allows its users to earn commission by reviewing, tagging and recommending products displayed on the site.
Users can tag and recommend products on the site, or add a link to their blogs, and earn commission on any sales the generated by these links. On the face of it, it looks a good way for bloggers to earn some cash.
Several UK portals have formed a partnership to act as a distribution channel for large-scale voucher and discount campaigns.
The CouponNET service, created by online vouchering company Couponstar, will see it hosting ‘voucher galleries’ on third party sites and effectively creating a UK affiliate network focusing purely on freebies and discounts.
John Woods is the CEO of Synature, a UK firm developing ‘attitudinal matching’ solutions for etailers and portals.
Like a cleverer version of Amazon-style book suggestions, its technology offers a social search tool for internet shoppers to find products that similarly-minded people recommend. Companies can also use it to segment their customer bases and target users with personalised content and advertising.
We spoke to John about a new partnership Synature has formed with MyTravel to provide holiday ideas to its customers, and to ask him a bit more about the technology.
Happy New Year from everyone at E-consultancy. We’ve picked out a few interesting stories that came out over the holiday season, in case you missed them…
Toy retailer Hamleys had its website pillaged by bargain hungry e-shoppers over the weekend, as customers exploited an error with discount codes.
The offer allowed shoppers using different discount codes together to get a whopping 60% off goods at Hamleys' online store. After the 'offer' was displayed on the HotUKDeals website, thousands took advantage.
Despite a raft of headlines about its potential as a shopping environment in recent months, Second Life creator Linden Labs has conceded that few of its resident stores are yet making fortunes in the virtual world.
"Most of the brands that have come in have not created a strong enough presence to create a significant business for them at this moment in time," Linden Labs marketing director Glenn Fisher told the Le Web 3 conference in Paris this afternoon.
The American Express Retail Monitor has found that, as shoppers become more clued up about the products they are buying, retailers have realised the importance of providing product information.
The survey found that 85% of retailers view the provision of product information as a key factor in attracting the kind of consumers who now demand comprehensive product information before making a purchase.
All of which sounds a lot like common sense, yet we all know that many etail sites still fail in this area.
The comparison engines sector has enjoyed strong growth in recent years, buoyed by sharp increases in the number of web users and the level of online researching before purchase.
However, to maintain their level of progress, it is clear that shopping comparison sites are facing major challenges to keep both consumers and merchants happy.