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1

Free e-commerce search report

37signals have made their e-commerce search report from 2003 available for free. The report looks at the usability of search results from 25 of the internet's leading online retailers, and concludes with a comprehensive set of best practices.

For each retailer 37signal have tested:
- Are the search results accurate and relevant?
- How does the site handle misspellings?
- Can I sort the search results by useful criteria?
- Will the site understand related words and common synonyms?
- Can I search using mixed specifications such as gender, color, and price?
- Does the site provide helpful tips when it returns no results?

Links:

  • The report Evaluating 25 E-Commerce Search Engines

Henrik Olsen - August 15, 2005

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See also: Tips and guidelines (65)  Search (24) 


 

2

11 ways to improve landing pages

When visitors click an online promotional creative they arrive at a landing page. The purpose of the landing page is to make the visitor do something (e.g. register for a newsletter or buy a product). Michael Nguyen gives 11 tips on how to make visitors take that desired action, where these five seem to be the most important:

- Eliminate unneeded elements that can distract visitors
- Make the landing page match the creative
- Remove navigation that isn't important to the conversion process
- Avoid the urge to promote or link to other areas of your site
- Place important elements above the "fold"

Links:

  • The article 11 Ways to Improve Landing Pages

Henrik Olsen - July 12, 2005

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See also: Persuasive design (13)  Sections (5)  Web page design (23)  Tips and guidelines (65) 


 

3

Eye-tracking study of e-commerce sites

Eyetools Inc and MarketingSherpa have published the report "The Landing Page Handbook". The report describes the results of an eye-tracking study of typical e-commerce sites and has design guidelines for improving web page layout.

Some highlights from the report:
- The upper-left corner is always seen
- Most web pages are scanned, not read
- Any text that is underlined or blue get high readership and many people will read only the emphasized text before deciding to read on
- Material underneath images is viewed quite often
- People experience such a strong pull to look at images that they can trump left-to-right reading
- Navigational links or bottoms usually distract visitors from the main purpose of the page

Links:

  • The article Are Your Visitors Seeing What You Think?
  • The book The Landing Page Handbook

Henrik Olsen - March 03, 2005 - via UI Designer

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See also: Eye-tracking (7)  Research (93)  Books (32) 


 

4

Browse vs. search

This paper describes an interesting study of e-commerce sites that was set up to determine factors involved in the decision to use search or browse menus to find products.

According to the authors Michael A. Katz and Michael D. Byrne, the decision of a user to search or browse a site is affected by multiple factors including:
- The site information architecture in terms of labeling and menu structure
- The user's inclination to search
- The prominence of search and browse areas

They found that:
- Given broad, high-scent menus, participants searched less than 10% of the time, but they searched almost 40% of the time when faced with narrow, low-scent menus
- Participants showed a higher success rate when using the menus to find products as opposed to search
- Searching for products wasn't faster or more accurate than browsing

Links:

Henrik Olsen - February 24, 2005

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See also: Navigation (46)  Search (24)  Research (93) 


 

5

Users research weeks before buying online

In a study performed by DoubleClick in conjunction with comScore Networks they found that:
- Roughly half of online shoppers conduct research on a search engine before making an online purchase
- Most users complete product-related searches weeks ahead of their actual purchases
- Users conduct more general searches (77%) than brand-only searches (22%)
- Buying decisions are generally spread out over a number of searches that vary by product category, where buyers on sports and fitness sites made an average of 2.5 searches and travel buyers conducted 6 searches

Links:

  • The article Consumers Search Before Buying Online

Henrik Olsen - February 17, 2005

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See also: Search engines (7) 


 

6

Segmenting online customers by behaviour

According to the authors of this article, the most effective segmentation scheme for online consumers is to group them by their online behaviour.

They have defined seven segments:

- Quickies (8%): Short visits to a few familiar sites.
- Just the Facts (15%): Search for specific information from known sites.
- Single Mission (7%): Information gathering or completion of a certain task at an unfamiliar site.
- Do It Again (14%): Visits to favourite sites.
- Loitering (16%): Longer leisure visits to familiar sites.
- Information, Please (17%): In-depth information gathering from a range of unfamiliar sites.
- Surfing (23%): Short visits to a lot of mostly unfamiliar sites.

The authors claim that by decoding the type of behaviour users are engaged in, online marketers will raise the odds of communicating with their target consumers at the time they are most likely to pay attention to and be influenced by offers.

Links:

Henrik Olsen - February 07, 2005

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See also: Persuasive design (13)  Requirement Analysis (12)  Research (93) 


 

7

Is your site ready for Christmas?

If you are in Christmas mood, 37signal have a lot of ideas for improving the online holiday customer experience. Here's a few:

- State the cutoff date for holiday delivery
- Offer gift finder categories directly on the home page
- Offer a "Shop By Interest" option
- Offer a "Shop By Price Range" option
- Offer links to gifts specifically for certain age groups
- Offer links to gifts specifically for men or women
- Lure value-conscious customers in by emphasizing low cost items on the home page
- Let people buy gift cards via the usual checkout process
- Give customers a sneak preview of your wrap
- Offer pre-wrapped gifts

Links:

  • 37signal's ideas for improving the holiday customer experience

Henrik Olsen - November 29, 2004

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See also: Tips and guidelines (65) 


 

8

Jeff Bezos on Amazon.com's customer-centric approach to online business

From Amazon.com's early days, founder Jeff Bezos' vision was to create the world's most customer-centric company. He is driven by the belief that what's good for the customer will ultimately turn out to be good for the company. This is the reason why you can find negative customers' reviews on products at Amazon - something that would be inconceivable in most other companies. Bezos is convinced that Amazon will sell more if they help people make purchasing decisions.

One of the keys to the success of Amazon.com lies in their fact-based approach. Some ideas are too complex to try out in small-scale tests, but Amazon will make an extraordinary effort to study customer behaviour rather than rely on their best instincts and judgments.

Links:

  • The article Insinde the Mind of Jeff Bezos

Henrik Olsen - November 14, 2004

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See also: Interviews (10) 


 

9

How to harvest offline customers using the internet

Since many customers research online and buy offline, there's big money in using the internet to harvest leads for offline sales. According to Bryan Eisenberg, retail sites should account for the different needs that customers have in the buying decision cycle to qualify, persuade, and eventually turn them into offline buyers.

Links:

  • The article Optimize Your Site for Lead Generation

Henrik Olsen - October 23, 2004

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See also: Persuasive design (13) 


 

10

Customers research online and buy offline

According to a survey, 65% of online US consumers come in to a retailer already knowing exactly what they want because they've done their product research online. The phenomenon, called cross-channel shopping, shows how important online merchandising is.

Additional findings from the survey:
- 51% of cross-channel customers are active shoppers who made at least one purchase in the past three months
- Cross-channel shoppers are comprised of wealthier, younger and more experienced online customers
- When cross-channel shoppers go to the offline retail, 47% end up spending more for additional products ($154 in average)
- 48% noted that the reason for buying offline is that they want to see the item before purchasing it
- 16% noted that the reason for buying offline was the need to talk with a salesperson before buying

The survey is based on 8,000 online customers and was conducted in 2004.

Links:

  • The article Majority of US Consumers Research Online, Buy Offline

Henrik Olsen - October 18, 2004

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See also: Research (93) 


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