By  on June 14, 2006

CHANNEL BLURRING: QVC, the $6.5 billion home shopping channel, is evaluating consumer feedback to a service it tested last week that brings the feel of broadcast TV to online shopping. QVC fed to its Web site audio and live-action video starring its familiar TV hosts and products ranging from apparel and skin care to high-definition TVs. Detailed information about featured products, such as sizes, colors and images, appeared adjacent to the video window and changed to keep pace with the footage. "That's 'multichannel' redefined, in our minds," said Robert Myers, vice president of merchandising at QVC.com, previewing the QVC on Demand feature. QVC, which broadcasts its TV shopping channel 24 hours a day, created an hour-long online shopping program for each of six test days, resulting in what Myers called the "25th" hour of programming in a day. "It is putting the control with the customer," he said, because shoppers could view a segment "on demand" and shop when they wanted. "Customers are voting right now," Myers said in reference to an online feedback mechanism that solicited shopper comments. Several consumers applauded the new shopping option that combines video and Web content. However, others demanded more than one hour of programming each day and complained they could not retroactively view an earlier day's program, according to posts on the QVC online forum.

FORCED LOG-IN ON TRIAL: Within a week of using Web analytics software to evaluate shopper behavior on its Speedousa.com site, Warnaco learned that roughly half of those visitors abandon their online carts without making a purchase. Mark Friedman, chief digital marketing officer at Warnaco, said analytics software from Coremetrics of San Mateo, Calif., went live this month. He said the software will be used to examine whether "forced log-in" — shoppers are required to register early in the shopping process — is contributing to cart abandonment on Speedousa.com. Such forced log-ins are a "huge, massive turnoff" to customers that can cost retailers up to 30 percent in revenues, said David Fry, president and chief executive officer of Fry Inc., an Ann Arbor, Mich., Web site development company. While many online sites have ditched forced log-in, others have been unable to make the change because of an inflexible electronic commerce infrastructure.DECEPTION OF CART ABANDONMENT: Web-site cart abandonment rates ranging from 31 to 60 percent are the norm for more than one-third of online retailers. That's among the findings of the Annual Merchant Survey of 200 senior executives conducted by the E-tailing Group of Chicago, according to Lauren Freedman, president. "I'm not sure I believe this number," Freedman said, challenging the validity of that metric during the Internet Retailer conference. Freedman said because many shoppers use online carts as "place holders," or as wish lists, never intending to complete a purchase immediately, cart abandonment rates can misrepresent shopper behavior. Still, Freedman said, a sizable group — 30 percent of survey respondents — indicated they had no clue what their site's abandonment rate was, and that's cause for concern.

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