Monday, March 12, 2007

IKEA ecommerce rockets towards the top

Despite launching a pilot scheme with no fanfare and restricted to the East Midlands & Cambridgeshire, IKEA's ecommerce website has crashed into the UK's top 50 ecommerce websites at number 49, as measured by Hitwise. Given that about half of the entries are for travel or ticket sellers this is more like becoming the 25th biggest etailer in the UK.

This goes to show that the latent demand for ecommerce from well known retail brands is huge & that the etail laggards are leaving substantial sums on the table by refusing to play.

Online shopping research gaining ground

Research into the shopping habits of US broadbanders shows that the internet is now the primary source of shopping research. The study showed that 50% were influenced by the internet in a recent purchase. Other sources of shopping influence were: ecommerce websites - 36%; search engines - 15%; TV ads - 11%; user-generated content (reviews, blogs etc) - 9%; print ads - 6%.

What does this mean for retailers? Don't judge your website by online sales alone. Find ways to measure the pounds and pence effect of your website on your high street sales.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Borders video: brand building or cash wasting?

US bookstore giant Borders - which has outsourced ecommerce to Amazon - is none-the-less using the internet for marketing. Following hot on the heels of Borders Book Club videos, the company has launched 'Borders Live at 01' (warning: link will start a video with sound), a series of videos taken at the original Borders store in Ann Arbor Michigan. On a decent broadband connection the quality is far superior to YouTube, though viewers will need the latest version of Flash.

This type of retailer produced event could be the future of brand building. In a multi-channel world where consumers are looking for authenticity, relevent videos could serve to both draw in suitable prospects and demonstrate the retailer's credentials.

The questions are:
* Will people shift from TV to watch specialised content like this?
* Will enough of them go on to visit the retailer's website or physical store?

Until Borders reports on the success or otherwise of this experiment we won't know the answers. But any forward looking retailer should be thinking about what sort of content would be suitable to help create and sustain their chosen brand values. And any product creator (think author, designer, factory) needs to think about their role in creating content that can be used by retailers.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

What everybody ought to know about vouchers

One of my colleagues emailed me yesterday with details of a £5 off voucher from Habitat - from the Barbican Art Gallery website - that appears to be intended just for Barbican members. But although the voucher page can't be found by searching on the site, it isn't password protected so the page can (and clearly has been) emailed to all and sundry.

No word yet on when this voucher was posted or whether its 'escape' to the wider world of non-Barbican members has led to increased sales at Habitat.

This reminds me of the Threshers voucher intended for suppliers that was distributed virally to millions of consumers in December last year. But there are significant differences - Habitat's is only for £5, & 40% off booze is much more appealing than £5 off homewares!(NB: The Threshers deal isn't as generous as it appears because they have a long running '3 for 2' offer that is effectively a 33.33% discount.)

But both vouchers have found themselves emailed to people not (officially) intended to get the offers. So the action point is: ensure that if a voucher 'goes viral' you'll make money. Simple, really.