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Posts Tagged ‘retail’

The secret to more online customers: fast checkout

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Shopping cartWant more online shoppers? Make it easier and faster for your customers to buy your goods or services. How fast? Five minutes or less.

Survey results released today show that over four in ten (44 percent) consumers would shop more online if it were faster to make a purchase, while nearly three-quarters (72 percent) agree that the overall experience of surfing the web could be better.

The vast majority of online shoppers (84 percent) expect an online transaction to be completed in five minutes or less. Website optimization and testing platforms make the conversion funnel quick and help businesses realize online revenue faster than ever before.

The survey, conducted online between June 4-6, 2013, among more than 2,500 US adults by Harris Interactive, kicks off an effort by Optimizely,a global website optimization platform, to educate online retailers about current trends in online shopping behavior.

The company launched a new website and infographic to help their customers and online businesses use an A/B testing tool to build a successful testing strategy in preparation for the holiday season. Optimizely has over 5,000 global customers including GoDaddy, Foot Locker, and Electronic Arts.

Key findings:

  • Nearly half of consumers would shop more online if it were faster to make a purchase (44 percent)
  • The vast majority of shoppers expect an online transaction to be completed in 5 minutes or less (84 percent)
  • 72 percent of consumers agree that the overall experience of surfing the web could be better, while 39 percent agree that many of the websites they visit feel outdated
  • Younger consumers (aged 18-34) are more likely to strongly agree (29 percent) that the overall experience of surfing the web could be better, when compared to those ages 35+ (18 percent), and male consumers are more likely to strongly agree with this than women (25 and 16 percent, respectively)
  • Younger consumers (ages 18-34) are more likely to spend more time on websites that feel fresh and new than those ages 35+ (70 vs. 50 percent)
  • Overall, 93 percent of US adults indicate that they shop online

Online retail undergoing radical change

Digital shopping cartThe findings suggest that online retail is undergoing some radical changes, and encouraging online merchants to differentiate themselves in more meaningful ways. Today, consumers’ time is now worth more to them; they need more compelling shopping experiences, unique or personalized product selection, or better customer service.

Personally, as a longtime ecommerce shopper, we gravitate toward the sites that make buying quick and easy (such as Amazon, Tiger Direct). We have and continue to abandon attempted purchases at sites that are slow, where the buying process is complicated, convoluted or time-consuming. This study does not address this particular point, but some ecommerce sites even hide their buy buttons – if I have to hunt for how to buy, I buy from another retailer. (Editor, Allan Maurer).

“Just two percent of visitors across the web convert into customers,” says Dan Siroker, CEO and co-founder of Optimizely. “That means there is a massive opportunity to convert the other 98 percent. Increasingly, online retailers must differentiate by providing a superior web experience. With Optimizely, they can use data to streamline the shopping experience and engage consumers by making it more enjoyable and hopefully increase revenue as well.”

SAP mobile commerce guide shows new opportunities

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

mobile devicesSAP AG (NYSE: SAP) has extended the focus of its third annual Mobile
Commerce Guide to help sectors such as retail, consumer products and utilities companies navigate the new market opportunities that mobile commerce technology and solutions can bring in both developed and emerging markets.

The Mobile Commerce Guide includes articles, case studies, key learnings, views on the competitive landscape and a look at the not too distant future, from over 40 industry leaders, innovators and analysts including the GSMA, Accenture, IDC, MasterCard, Cisco, PayPal, Dutch-Bangla Bank and RBS Citizens.

“Mobile has the power to trigger a fundamental shift in commerce because consumers already live their lives on mobile,” saidDiarmuid Mallon , Global Mobile Marketing Solutions and Programs, SAP. “The insights provided in this year’s Mobile Commerce Guide show how companies can harness mobile to deliver value and provide customers new visibility into the services they use and the payments they make.

Mobile wallets

Banks are encouraging the unbanked to use their mobile wallets as instruments that allow them to save money and plan their financial futures; mobile operators are sharing infrastructure and best practices to reach and educate customers faster; and as mobile commerce opportunities naturally extend into retail, consumer products and utilities sectors, this guide helps these sectors understand and include mobile in their customer engagement and loyalty initiatives.”

The first and second editions of the guide, released under SAP Mobile Services, a division of SAP, have closely followed the evolution of the mobile commerce business. In 2012, the guide focused on successful deployments of mobile commerce services and the impact of mobile commerce on consumer behavior. The 2011 edition placed greater significance on the transformation of commerce via the “fourth screen” concept of mobile devices.

Download the guide at:

Retail ecommerce sales grew 13 percent in Q1

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Digital shopping cartEcommerce sales keep rolling up record numbers.

Q1 2013 U.S. retail e-commerce sales. Q1 2013 sales grew 13 percent year-over-year to $50.2 billion, marking the fourteenth consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth and tenth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth, according to digital measurement service comScore.

It was also just the second quarter on record to surpass $50 billion in spending.

Retail E-Commerce (Non-Travel) Growth Rates

Excludes Auctions, Autos and Large Corporate Purchases

Total U.S. – Home & Work Locations (excl. Mobile)

Source: comScore, Inc.

Quarter E-Commerce Spending ($ Millions) Y/Y Percent Change
Q1 2007 $27,970 17%
Q2 2007 $27,176 23%
Q3 2007 $28,441 23%
Q4 2007 $39,132 19%
Q1 2008 $31,178 11%
Q2 2008 $30,581 13%
Q3 2008 $30,274 6%
Q4 2008 $38,071 -3%
Q1 2009 $31,031 0%
Q2 2009 $30,169 -1%
Q3 2009 $29,552 -2%
Q4 2009 $39,045 3%
Q1 2010 $33,984 10%
Q2 2010 $32,942 9%
Q3 2010 $32,133 9%
Q4 2010 $43,432 11%
Q1 2011 $38,002 12%
Q2 2011 $37,501 14%
Q3 2011 $36,308 13%
Q4 2011 $49,698 14%
Q1 2012 $44,282 17%
Q2 2012 $43,153 15%
Q3 2012 $41,936 15%
Q4 2012 $56,781 14%
Q1 2013 $50,180 13%

“The first quarter of 2013 was fairly strong for online retailers, with total e-commerce sales surpassing $50 billion for only the second time on record,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni . “While the year-over-year growth rate of 13 percent remained healthy, it was a point or two below that of the preceding quarters.

One potential explanation for this mild deceleration is the payroll tax increase, which went into effect in 2013 and which removed some disposal income from Americans’ wallets. That said, as long as job growth continues and consumer sentiment remains positive, the outlook for e-commerce in 2013 remains bright.

However, one wild card is the possible enactment of legislation requiring state sales taxes to be collected on every e-commerce transaction — which would reduce the Internet’s traditional price advantage and possibly dilute the channel’s growth rate.”

Personally, we’re not so sure that not paying sales taxes is why people shop online. We shop online for just about everything except groceries and fast food and we do it for convenience. Also, Internet discounts are often better than in-store even without sales tax breaks.

The real deal-maker for many Internet sales is free-shipping, according to many studies we’ve seen here at the TechJournal.

comScoreOther highlights from Q1 2013 include:

  • The top-performing online product categories were: Digital Content & Subscriptions, Apparel & Accessories, Sport & Fitness, Consumer Electronics, and Consumer Packaged Goods. Each category grew at least 20 percent vs. year ago.
  • E-commerce accounted for 10.6 percent of discretionary dollars spent, the highest share on record.
  • comScore’s new m-commerce spending estimates revealed that Apparel & Accessories was the highest grossing mobile (i.e. smartphone & tablet) product category with nearly $1 billion in Q1 sales.
  • Nearly half (48 percent) of time spent in the Retail category occurred on mobile devices, with smartphones (34 percent) outpacing tablets (14 percent).

Survey says most Americans prefer in-store shopping

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Digital shopping cartMore than two-thirds of Americans prefer to shop in traditional, brick and mortar stores than online commerce sites, according to a survey conducted by on behalf of Synqera , a global technology startup that uses big data to bring personalized digital experiences to the physical retail store.

The survey found that shoppers gravitate towards retail locations that offer customized shopping experiences but that checkout remains the number one pain point for 73 percent of U.S. consumers.

Personally, we suspect many who say they prefer those in-store shopping experiences may forego them for the convenience of online shopping anyway.

With competing, online-only retail ecosystems gaining customer loyalty, physical retailers have faced the challenge of changing business models and retention tactics in a multichannel world to combat showrooming.

Checkout is the primary deterrent for in-store shopping

Synqera develops technologies that bring personalized online shopping experiences to physical retail stores, creating a more compelling in-store experience for consumers and greater customer loyalty and increased sales opportunities for retailers.

“Synqera found that at the most basic level of commerce, the point of sale in brick and mortar retailers is the primary deterrent for consumers shopping at stores,” said Filipp Shubin , Synqera COO.

“We also discovered that coupon usage increases if they were immediately accessible and personalized to each shopper that walks into the retailer’s store. If the consumer is actively engaged the entire time they are in a store, the better they feel about the shopping experience.”

Here at the TechJournal, we’d be willing to bet that other factors also deter in-store shopping, such as the cost and time involved in travel, the lack of items on shelves, and not infrequently, higher mark ups on products.

So we’re skeptical about the validity of some of these findings.

Other key findings from the survey:

  • More than two-thirds of Americans prefer to shop in store versus online
  • 82 percent of respondents believe the point of sale checkout process can be improved
  • Nearly three-quarters of Americans find waiting in the checkout line their least favorite aspect of in store shopping
  • 76 percent would find the checkout process more enjoyable if they received personalized coupons at checkout
  • 66 percent of Americans are more likely to shop in a store where they receive personal suggestions while shopping, and over 75 percent of total respondents would rather receive personalized coupons
  • 8 out of 10 Americans are more likely to shop in a store that provides an overall customized shopping experience

“Showrooming is very real and very damaging for retailers that can’t compete with e-retailers,” continued Shubin. “In an effort to combat it, insights like those that Synqera found can help pinpoint where retailers should focus their innovation, even in the most unlikely or shockingly obvious places, like the checkout line.”

The data for this survey was collected between April 22-26, 2013 via, with 72 percent of respondents ages 18-54. You can the survey results in their entirety here.

Top 25 social commerce retail leaders adopting new best practices

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

social mediaBest practices that top brands implemented during 2012 include offering social expression capabilities and rewards, creating social list and curation opportunities, enabling social discovery features, and using Interest Graph data, according to 8thBridge’s second annual Social Commerce IQ report.

The study revealed a number of new best practices as compared to the 2011 report, including an extended focus beyond simply increasing social network presence to include creating richer social shopping experiences that are directly integrated with, and driven from, the top players’ ecommerce sites.

The 2012 SCIQ: Retail report covered more than double the number of companies as the 2011 study, which focused entirely on retail brands. View an infographic detailing the report’s findings.

The report also reflected a major shift in social commerce strategy that is perhaps best exemplified by increasing interest in Pinterest, which has been adopted among 78 percent of IR 500 companies in less than a year but has not generated a corresponding rise in traffic or sales conversion.

PinterestPinterest emphasizes curation and the concept of an Interest Graph that creates more meaningful connections based on things that interest people rather than simply who they know.

Wade Gerten, CEO of 8thBridge, said, “Three types of companies have emerged as leaders in this year’s report – the first is ecommerce companies that have deeply integrated social functionality into their sites, the second is ‘in-transition’ companies that do well in all social commerce areas, and the third is strong viral companies that score exceptionally well in social network branding and referral traffic.”

The top retailers identified in the SCIQ report included many who were new both to the SCIQ 25 list as well as this year’s IR 500 rankings.  Based on a weighted total of four key success factors, the top 25 companies are:

  18. (American Eagle Outfitters)

Other key usage statistics emerged, including:

  • Facebook upstream traffic is now 2.46%
  • Pinterest upstream traffic is now 0.11% (low)
  • Twitter upstream traffic is now: 0.06% (a distant third)
  • 35% of companies researched had apps on Facebook that were not functioning and/or were out of date.
  • 51% of companies have incorporated the Pin It button

FacebookAdditionally, the report included results from a survey of 1,819 U.S. residents between July 9 and July 12, 2012, regarding their Facebook usage and interest in social commerce.  Key findings include:

  • 70 percent of respondents would rather hear about a new product from a Facebook friend, than from a brand.
  • 57% have asked their friends on Facebook for advice before purchasing a product.
  • 31% say they don’t share products on social networks, while 63% say they share on Facebook, 25% on Twitter, and 22% on Pinterest.
  • 64% said that more Facebook “likes” on a product do not increase the likelihood that they will buy that product.
  • 44% say they are most likely to discover new products compared to 21% on Pinterest and 13% on Twitter, but 37% don’t pay attention to posts about products.
  • 56% do not share things on social networks to get rewards.

Companies shedding customers they could have kept, research says

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

AccentureAre you doing enough to hold onto your customers? Many companies are not and they’re shedding consumers they could have kept using social listening and by providing more responsive customer service, according to an Accenture survey.

One in five consumers switched companies they buy from, including wireless phone, internet service, and retailers, according research released by Accenture (NYSE: ACN).

This marks a five percent increase in switching over 2011 levels.  However, the eighth annual Accenture Global Consumer Survey also found that the majority (85 percent) of consumers say the companies could have done something differently to prevent them from switching.

The survey, which polled more than 12,000 consumers in 32 countries, found that among those consumers who would have stayed if their provider had acted differently, two-thirds (67 percent) pointed to having their customer service issue resolved during their first contact as a factor. More than half (54 percent) might have remained loyal if they had been rewarded for doing more business with their provider.

Wireless & Internet providers saw the most switches

The survey revealed that, of the ten industries covered, the largest rises in switching were among wireless phone providers (26 percent of consumers switched in 2012, up from 21 percent in 2011); internet service providers (23 percent switched, up from 19 percent in 2011) and retailers (22 percent switched, up from 16 percent in 2011).

Broken promises are a top area of frustration for consumers, according to the survey: nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of respondents indicate it’s extremely frustrating when a company delivers a different customer service experience from what it promised upfront.  Seventy eight percent of consumers say they are likely to switch providers when they encounter such broken promises.

Other frustrations that make consumers more likely to switch include:

  • Having to contact customer service multiple times for the same reason (selected by 65 percent of consumers)
  • Dealing with unfriendly customer service agents (65 percent)
  • Being on hold for a long time when contacting customer service (61 percent)
Personally, we’ve experienced every one of those problems and indeed, just this year switched home warranty providers and other services because of them. You have to wonder why some firms even bother with Facebook pages or Twitter accounts they don’t bother to monitor.

“The sobering reality is that ‘tried and true’ strategies for customer acquisition, loyalty and retention are struggling to keep pace with consumers who are perpetually in motion, more technologically savvy than ever, and increasingly unpredictable,” said Robert Wollan, global managing director—Accenture Sales & Customer Services.

“The news this year is that customers want to be loyal but customer service often fails to meet their expectations. In the digital marketplace, companies must improve social listening capabilities and apply predictive analytics designed to quickly identify and respond to potential customer issues before problems arise.”

Selling More With Tailored Experiences

The Accenture study found that a tailored experience is critical to a strong customer relationship.  Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents say that, compared to 12 months ago, they have higher expectations of getting specialized treatment for being a “good” customer.

A similar proportion (50 percent) say it is extremely important for customer service people to know their history so they don’t have to repeat themselves each time they call.

Nearly a third (31 percent) of respondents prefer companies that use information about them to make their experience more efficient from one step to the next.  However, only a quarter (24 percent) said their providers deliver tailored experiences.

Among the ten industries included in the survey, providers in the travel and tourism, retail banking and life insurance industries earn the highest marks for providing tailored experiences: 32 percent of respondents say travel and tourism providers offer tailored experiences, followed by 27 percent who say the same about retail banks and 25 percent about life insurance providers.

Companies need to use analytics

“To convince consumers to stay – and spend more—many companies will need to develop more tailored offers and interactions that connect with consumers’ specific needs,” said Michelangelo Barbera, managing director—Accenture Sales & Customer Services in Europe, Africa and Latin America.

“Taking such proactive steps to keep customers requires companies to use analytics to mine the vast stores of data they possess to gain greater insight into customers’ desires and intentions and behave in the ways that customers want them to. Failing to use that data equates to not listening and can result in customers searching for someone who will.”

Corporate Websites, Expert Review Sites Top Social Media Influence

As technology provides an ever-growing number of channels for consumers to interact with companies, the Accenture survey found that on average consumers use five to six channels to learn about and select providers, including:

  • Word of mouth, relied upon by 79 percent of consumers to get information about providers
  • Corporate websites, used by nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of consumers
  • Online sources such as expert review sites, news sites and product comparison sites, used by nearly two-thirds (63 percent)
  • Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, used by 47 percent of consumers.

Looking more closely at the influence of social media, the survey found that 31 percent of consumers say they trust comments posted by people they know, echoing the importance of word of mouth.  More than a quarter (28 percent) say positive comments in social media affect purchasing decisions and 28 percent say negative comments do so.

“Consumers, particularly in North America, appear to be migrating to increasingly polarized camps: one group that prefers traditional interactions, such as telephone, and one tech-savvy group that demands seamless interactions across all digital platforms,” said Kevin Quiring, managing director—Accenture Sales & Customer Services in North America.

“Many companies, however, approach their customers with a decades-old, ‘one size fits all’ sales and service model that they must evolve to satisfy the different ways consumers want to interact with the companies they buy from.”

For more information:


Four tips on how retailers can influence showroomers

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

showroomer infographic

Showroomers exhibit more loyal behavior than non-showroomers, making them an ideal target for retailers, according to a study from Aimia, a global leader in loyalty management.

Retail showrooming behavior, whereby consumers browse for items in-store before using their smart phones to find a lower price online, is propelled by Millennials (age 19-29) with three quarters of US showroomers coming from that generation.

However, according to Aimia’s “Through the Looking Glass” retail brief released today, showroomers are also active participants in loyalty and reward programs, thus making them an undervalued consumer audience for retailers.

“Showroomers are more likely to participate in loyalty programs, are more willing to trade personal details for rewards, and are more interested in mobile commerce,” said Rick Ferguson, Vice President, Knowledge Development, Aimia. “Retailers should take advantage of these behaviors to transform showroomers to become loyal – and paying – customers.”

Retailers have an opportunity to harness showroomers’ greater willingness to engage in reward program memberships. Aimia’s research shows the typical showroomer is male, owns at least two digital devices, is active in social media, and is excited by mobile commerce.  The research also found American showroomers are:

  • 67% more likely than a non-showroomer to participate in a travel reward program membership
  • 20% more likely than non-showroomers to participate in a retail reward program membership
  • Three times more likely than non-showroomers to respond to a location-based mobile offer

“The solution to embracing showrooming behavior lies in retailers leveraging their shopping data to get consumer insights that will help shape their marketing strategies and drive in-store purchases, ” said  Ferguson.

“The tools of loyalty management provide unparalleled insight that can help retailers reinvent retail and build stronger relationships with consumers.”

Retailers can influence showroomers by leveraging the tools of loyalty management including:

  • Using hard benefits to reward desired behavior – offer in-the-midst showroomers to join your rewards program with a rich bonus offer on their first purchase
  • Linking soft benefits to upper-tier smart phone users – identify showroomers within the upper tier of your most valuable customers, and lavish them with soft benefits such as exclusive access, special benefits, experiential rewards, location-based offers and other privileges that resonate with your target audience
  • Stealing the online thunder – offer a showrooming app through your own loyalty program, allowing you to hold on to customer insights
  • Deploying an aggressive partner strategy – work with and share opt-in data with partners and suppliers to combat showrooming together

See infographic at

Display ads work well early in retail conversion path, email a drag on travel sales

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

IgnitionOneIgnitionOne, which sells digital marketing solutions and cross-channel attribution analysis, says its research shows  the effect of media types and exposure paths on the speed of conversion and on the average order value (AOV).

It found, among other things, that display advertising early in the conversion path is quite effective for retail, while paid search works best for travel, and email campaigns can be a drag on travel order values.

The research involved marketing data from US and European travel and retail firms over a two month period. IgnitionOne looked at the types and number of media exposures, latency (the amount of time between the first exposure and when the conversion occurred) and the exposure paths that led to conversions.

Key findings in the report:

  • For travel, paid search is the key driver in getting customers to spend more money. Outside of organic search, it drives a 71% higher average order value (AOV) than any other single-channel path. Within multi-channel paths, when paid search follows an organic search click, the AOV is 18% higher than the average multi-channel path.
  • Email campaigns are a drag on travel order values and increase the time to convert when part of conversion paths. Across single-channel conversion paths, email drives a 56% lower AOV and takes over 250% longer to convert a user than on average. Across multi-channel conversion paths, when email is the last exposure, it results in a 36% lower AOV and 100% more time to convert than on average.
  • When email is the first exposure, it results in a 39% lower AOV and takes a user almost 150% more time to convert than on average. This can be explained by email campaigns being traditionally very promotional in nature, which lowers the AOV.
  •  Email campaigns are also more heavily dominated by existing customers who may not be currently in the market for travel and/or are more discerning among promotional offers.
  • Display is an effective channel for retail, especially early in the conversion path, feeding the top of the funnel. Even on its own, display drives a 29% higher AOV than other single channel paths.
  •  Combined with search channels (both paid and organic), it drives a 16% higher AOV when it’s at the top of the path and converts users 43% faster than other multi-channel paths. At the end of the path, latency tends to be higher but AOV is 36% higher than other multi-channel paths.

“By better understanding how different media interact and assist along the path to making a purchase, marketers can more efficiently leverage advertising dollars,” said Roger Barnette, president of IgnitionOne.

“These types of insights are possible when marketers take advantage of advanced attribution models and move away from last-click models.”

This report is the latest in a series of reports from IgnitionOne reviewing trends across the online advertising landscape.

This and previous reports can be downloaded at

Majority of consumers more loyal to stores and products than to brands

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Shop at Home

Can you guess what the most searched for item is on a major discount coupon search engine? Bet you didn’t guess toilet paper. Also in the top ten, other consumables such as laundry detergent, coffee and butter.

And when they search, consumers looks for stores and specific products far more than they look for brands.

In fact,62 percent searched for store-centric deals, 24 percent for product-specific coupons, while only 14 percent search specifically for brand name product discounts online, according to, the largest coupon search engine in a report of consumer search habits on the site.

Nearly half of U.S. consumers – 88.2 million – will use online coupons and codes during 2012, according to a recent analysis done by eMarketer.

By the end of 2013, 96.8 million U.S. adults will have used such discounts.

“Consumers are really creatures of habit when it comes to looking for coupons – they go where they know they can consistently find the best deals,” said Marc Braunstein, co-founder and CEO of

An analysis of the Buy-havior Report shows the following:

  • Savvy spenders are creatures of habit: 73 percent of consumers using used it between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., regardless of the day of the week. Only 18 percent used it after 6:00 p.m.
  • “Toilet paper” was the most-searched term on the site and has been for the past two months.
  • Consumers are more likely to be searching for deals on items they consistently buy. Half of the top ten searched terms were for consumable goods like toilet paper, laundry detergent, coffee and butter.
  • Following toilet paper, “laundry detergent” was the next highest search, with 16,307 consumers looking for online savings.
  • Animal lovers were equally fond of discounts, with 13,120 of online coupon and savings searches done for pet food and supplies.
  • Of the 62 percent of consumers looking for store-centric savings, Wal-Mart was the most-searched for retailer followed by Kohl’s and Target respectively.
  • Sony was the most-searched for brand out of the 14 percent of consumers searching for brand names. It was searched three times more than the next brand on the list: Swiffer.
  • New York City residents used the site most followed by Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Denver respectively.
  • The average user receives $41 in cash back per month. As much as 10,000 checks are mailed out each month to users. differentiates itself from other coupon sites with its cash back incentives. Unlike coupons, which are provided by the retailers, all of the cash back offers on come directly from the site itself and show up right alongside the coupons.

To make things even easier for shoppers, last month, launched its free Coupon Codes Plus app for the iPad. The app lets consumers shop for the best possible price at over 18,000 retailers, as well as offering some exclusive app-only deals.

For more information, go to the full June 2012 Buy-havior Report.

Online behavioral tracking pervasive, Google privacy practices often violated

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

KeynoteAn in depth analysis of the behavioral tracking of 269 websites across four industries found that 86 percent place one or more third-party tracking cookies on visitors and many violate Google’s privacy practices, says Keynote Systems (NASDAQ:KEYN),which sells Internet and mobile cloud testing and monitoring solutions.

What’s more, 60 percent of these third-parties had at least one tracker that didn’t promise to comply with at least one common tracking standard.

A third-party tracker in this context is simply defined as a business that has access to your computer, when you visit a particular Website, so that they can record your browsing history and other personal data, and is a completely separate organization from the owner of that site.

The presence and identity of third-party trackers is typically invisible to users browsing their favorite Web pages.

tracking graphic

The number of Websites that allow visitors to be tracked by third-parties may be surprising to some, but as consumers begin to understand that their online behavior can be recorded, enterprises will have to work even harder to ensure that consumers’ privacy expectations are met,” said Ray Everett, Keynote’s director of privacy services.

Keynote analysis showed that nearly all Travel & Hospitality and News & Media Websites have third-party tracking (95 percent and 96 percent respectively).

Three of four financial service sites use third-party tracking

Most surprising was the fact that nearly three out of four financial services sites examined expose visitors to third-party tracking.

And of the financial services companies with tracking, 52 percent of third-party trackers violate at least one of the industry’s most common privacy standards – such as participation in industry self-regulatory programs or offering consumer opt-out choices.

Keynote’s analysis also discovered that of the 211 third-party trackers identified during the study, only one committed to honor a visitor’s request not to be tracked via the new Do Not Track feature browser vendors are implementing. In addition, News & Media sites expose site visitors to an average of 14 unique third-party tracking companies during the course of a typical visit.

Behavioral advertising, a common use of third-party tracking data, is an increasingly common practice on the Web and one of the primary ways Websites fund their operations.

Third-party trackers place cookies on the browsers of site’s visitors to track a user’s clicks and path through the Web. They also can make note of things like what the visitor buys and where the visitor goes once they leave.

Working online at the TechJournal daily, we run various spyware removal software such as Superantispyware and delete more than 400 adware tracking cookies every few days. While most are not particularly harmful, they will clog your computer as they accumulate.

A “wild west mentality” prevails

“The Web advertising ecosystem is sprawling and complicated, with hundreds of ad networks all competing to gather as much targeting data on consumers as they possibly can,” Everett noted.

“It’s very much still a ‘wild west’ mentality and the activities of aggressive tracking companies can place Website publishers in a difficult position: how do you monetize your Website without alienating your visitors and exposing yourself to legal risk?”

Everett concluded, “Ultimately, the burden of policing third-party trackers falls on the shoulders of Website publishers. A publisher is responsible for the content of their Website, including the practices of the advertisers appearing on it. Monitoring the constantly changing advertising ecosystem is a daunting task, but the consequence of failure is the placing of your brand’s reputation at tremendous risk.”

Keynote performed its online behavioral tracking analysis on data collected from the company’s own global test and measurement network and leveraged the Keynote’s new Web Privacy Tracking service announced last month.

Half of Fortune 500 firms do not translate online content

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

One Hour TranslationHalf of Fortune 500 companies do not translate their online content, according to a study from One Hour Translation. The data from the study was particularly alarming, given that 70% of people using the Internet are not native English speakers.

Specific data pointing to the lack of alternative languages, including Spanish, the second most common language in the US, indicates not only potential revenue losses, but in some industries such as pharmaceutical firms and healthcare companies, a possible safety and health risk.

The criteria used to determine whether a website was determined to be localized or not was based on the availability of the website’s content in at least one language other than English.

According to the study, in many cases, Fortune 500 websites were only translated into one other language, if they were translated at all.

“In today’s global marketplace, it’s really astonishing how few Fortune 500 companies have made their content available in other languages,” said Ofer Shoshan, CEO and co-founder of One Hour Translation.

“The cost of translating web content is affordable for even small businesses today, which is why the fact that 48 percent of the Fortune 500 companies haven’t translated or localized their websites is so shocking.”

The study revealed several industry specific insights including:

  • 66% of Fortune 500 retail company websites are not translated
  • 65% of Fortune 500 healthcare company websites are not translated
  • 1/3 of Fortune 500 insurance company websites are not translated
  • 83% of Fortune 500 energy/utility company websites are not translated

Industries that scored 100 percent across the board included airlines, auto manufacturers, consumer banks, and investment banking houses.

“A company that doesn’t translate their corporate or consumer facing website into other languages or localize their content is losing sales and investment opportunities,” says Shoshan. ”

According to Common Sense Advisory, an analyst firm specializing in translation services, 85% of Internet users won’t make important purchasing decisions unless the sales product is expressed in their native language.”

Internet ad revenue hit historic high of $31B in 2011

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

The IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report for the full-year 2011 reveals that revenues soared to a landmark high of $31 billion.

That milestone represents a 22 percent increase over 2010’s full-year number, which itself had been a record-breaker at $26 billion.

The report, released by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and prepared by PwC U.S., also unveils that fourth quarter revenues for 2011 hit a best-ever at $9 billion, marking a 15 percent increase over the third quarter 2011, which came in at $7.8 billion, and a 20 percent growth year-over-year in comparison to 2010’s $7.4 billion.

“In addition, with advancement in areas like mobile and digital video, it appears that there will be robust avenues for interactive’s growth in the future.”

Other highlights of the report include:

  • Mobile experienced the fastest growth of all categories – triple-digit growth year-over-year – up 149 percent to $1.6 billion in full-year 2011 from $0.6 billion in 2010.
  • Digital video, a component of display-related advertising, saw a significant uptick of 29 percent year-over-year, bringing in $1.8 billion in revenue in 2011 compared to $1.4 billion in 2010.
  • Search revenues in 2011 totaled $14.8 billion, up almost 27 percent from $11.7 billion in 2010.
  • Display-related advertising revenues in 2011 totaled $11.1 billion or 35 percent of 2011 revenues, up 15 percent from $9.6 billion in 2010.
  • Retail advertisers continue to represent the largest category of internet ad spending, accounting for 22 percent in 2011, or $7.1 billion, up from 21 percent ($5.5 billion) reported in 2010.

“This historic moment, with an especially impressive achievement in mobile, is indicative of an increased awareness from advertisers that they need to reach consumers where they are spending their time–in digital media,” said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO, IAB. “Pushing past the $30 billion barrier, the interactive advertising industry confirms its central place in media. Across search, display, digital video, digital provides a wealth of opportunity for brands and consumers. With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, it is likely that the tremendous growth in mobile will continue as these screens become even more crucial to the marketing mix.”

“The year 2011 saw mobile advertising become a meaningful category,” said David Silverman, Partner, PwC U.S. “By combining some of the best features of the internet, along with portability and location-based technology, mobile advertising is enabling marketers to deliver timely, targeted, relevant, and local advertisements in a manner that was not previously possible. It is for these reasons that we expect strong growth to continue with mobile advertising.”

“Digital advertising’s stellar performance in 2011 attests to the high-value marketers put on the medium,” said Sherrill Mane, Senior Vice President, Research, Analytics, and Measurement, IAB. “In addition, with advancement in areas like mobile and digital video, it appears that there will be robust avenues for interactive’s growth in the future.”

Here are the results from the full year in comparison with last year’s numbers:

Full Year Full Year
2010 * 2011
% $ % $
Revenue (Ad Formats)
Search 44.8 % $11,661 46.5 % $14,768
Classifieds and Directories 10.0 % $2,597 8.1 % $2,580
Lead Generation 5.1 % $1,323 4.8 % $1,522
E-mail 0.7 % $195 0.7 % $213
Mobile* 2.5 % $641 5.0 % $1,596
-Digital Video Commercials 5.4 % $1,404 5.7 % $1,809
-Ad banners / display ads 22.9 % $5,963 21.5 % $6,811
-Sponsorships 2.8 % $718 3.5 % $1,121
-Rich media 5.9 % $1,539 4.1 % $1,315
Total display-related 37.0 % $9,624 34.8 % $11,056
* Revised from prior year to include mobile as a discreet category
Revenue (Pricing Models)
Impression-based 33.0 % $8,589 31.3 % $9,926
Performance-based 62.2 % $16,198 64.6 % $20,491
Hybrid 4.8 % $1,254 4.2 % $1,318

Immersive in-store experiences capture tech-savvy consumers

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Cisco screen

A new survey identifies new ways for retailers to “catch” and “keep” channel-hopping customers to revitalize brick-and-mortar stores.

Conducted by Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) — the company’s global consultancy — and Cisco’s retail marketing team, the study surveyed 1,000 U.S. and 1,000 U.K. shoppers. Among the research’s many key findings was that retailers must respond to technology-savvy consumers by creating digitally-rich, easy-to-use, technology-based experiences in the store to expand basket size and increase margins.

These experiences “mash up” physical retailing with the best of rich online content. Cisco’s retail solutions will be showcased at NRF booth 851.

The study revealed three specific shopping behaviors: (1) the influence that digital content has on consumer buying decisions, (2) how consumers engage in cross-channel shopping behavior, and (3) how consumers use technology while shopping. In addition, the survey polled shoppers about what kinds of technology-based experience prototypes they would like to use in stores.

These cross-technology experiences, also known as “mashops” get their name because they “mash up” the virtual and physical worlds to create a new way to shop.

Influence of Online and Off-Line Information Sources
The survey found that digital content can frequently trigger consumers to buy. Bringing online digital content into the store is especially powerful in influencing buying decisions at the point of sale.

  • Nineteen percent of respondents were influenced to make a purchase with digital “inspiration” triggers
  • Thirty percent use online videos to choose the right product or service
  • Fifty-one percent of U.S. respondents now use or want to use an in-store kiosk for self-service of accessing web-based content
  • Forty-two percent of U.S. respondents use or are interested in using video screens or video walls within the store to make buying decisions
  • Forty percent of U.S. respondents use or are interested in using mobile phones for in-store digital content delivery
  • Thirty-five percent of U.S. respondents indicated current use or interest in using tablets for in-store digital content delivery

Cross-Channel Shopping Behavior
Internet ubiquity, personal technology adoption, and e-commerce growth have produced a new consumer behavior — cross-channel shopping. In this environment, consumers hop from one channel to another throughout the shopping journey looking for the best deal. For retailers that have achieved success through traditional practices (price, product, promotion and placement), cross-channel shopping demands a new approach to win customers.

The survey discovered that cross-channel shopping behavior is prevalent and desired by most consumers, with nearly 74 percent of all respondents conducting online research before making in-store purchasing decisions.

  • Fifty-three percent of shoppers reported current activity or interest in conducting research at an in-store kiosk and making their purchase immediately in the store
  • Forty-five percent reported current activity or interest in conducting research with a mobile device and then making their purchase in the store
  • Forty-four percent reported current activity or interest in conducting research with a mobile device and then making their purchase on a PC

Technology-Based Experiences
The survey also explored the types of innovative experiences retailers could provide to meet these new consumer behaviors by asking participants about five technology-based experiences they may want to use during the course of their shopping. The feedback shows how consumers want to use technology to make more informed and quicker decisions at point-of-purchase.

Immersive Experiences — The survey asked shoppers about their use of a more immersive shopping experience, where by standing in front of a large, full-length screen, they could select and “try on” clothing and accessories virtually. They also could view items such as furniture, lighting, and blinds in a virtual room setting.

  • Forty-six percent wanted to “try on” items
  • Forty-four percent wanted to coordinate items such as furniture, clothes, and accessories
  • Twenty-nine percent wanted to view/buy available products

Product Viewer — This technology-based experience provides shoppers with a large, interactive display to browse or look for specific products. The screen shows “go withs,” customer ratings, “likes,” and directions to products within the store. The most popular features included:

  • Forty-five percent liked the ability to compare products and pricing
  • Thirty-two percent enjoyed having access to detailed product specs
  • Twenty-nine percent were inclined to “like” products on the screen
  • Twenty-seven percent liked having directions to more easily locate products in the store

Shelf Help — Shoppers were asked about what information they preferred to have delivered either through interactive digital displays at the shelf level, or via an employee’s tablet or shopper’s smartphone. With this option, they could receive expert advice through self-service guided selling or via video-chat with a remote expert.

  • Forty-three percent of shoppers wanted to compare products and prices
  • Forty percent wanted to compare prices at a leading retailer
  • Thirty-one percent wanted detailed product specs
  • Thirty percent wanted a guide for selecting the best products

Personal Mobile Shopper — Retailers could also provide shoppers with a personal greeting on their mobile devices as they entered the store, and customized offers based on past transactions as well as “likes” on the retailer’s Facebook page.

  • Forty-nine percent liked the ability to compare products and prices
  • Forty percent liked the ability to opt in/out
  • Thirty-seven percent liked retailers to “push” offers for big purchases
  • Thirty-six percent liked directions to products in the store

Shoppers Favorites — Finally, shoppers were asked about how they would use a large in-store, high-definition, and constantly-updated display that showed new products, top sellers, and most “liked.” products within the store.

  • Forty-four percent liked up-to-the-minute special offers
  • Forty-three percent liked what’s new in the store
  • Forty-one percent liked limited-time specials
  • Thirty-two percent liked directions to products in the store

NRF asks Commerce to delay Internet domain name expansion

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

NRFThe National Retail Federation today asked the Commerce Department to delay implementation of a controversial plan to vastly expand Internet domain names, saying retailers and other businesses need more information before moving forward.

“The single comment we are hearing most often from retailers is that they wish they had more time,” NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan said. “Whether they’re for it or against it, everybody agrees that there has been too much uncertainty around this process. Right now, uncertainty reigns.”

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a non-profit that administers Internet names for the Commerce Department, plans to launch a program in January that would go beyond traditional three-character “top level” domain names such as “.com” and “.org” to include word-length domains such as “.retail” or “.shop” and also allow business names such as “.NationalRetailFederation” to be used.

Guidance is lacking

The plan has been under consideration since 2009, but “its scope and consequences have largely flown under the radar of most commercial businesses,” Duncan warned in a letter to Lawrence Strickling, head of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration. “To adequately plan, businesses need some level of clarity,” Duncan said. “To date, that guidance is lacking.”

Duncan said retailers have a wide range of brand identity issues and legal concerns to address before deciding whether to seek the new domain names. But ICANN has been unclear on information as basic as how many names will be available, citing numbers ranging 300 to 1,500.

In addition, the organization has told some businesses the new domains assigned in 2012 will be all that will be available for the foreseeable future, while telling others new rounds of assignments will be made every few years. Such details are important so businesses will know whether they need to move quickly or will be able to wait, Duncan said.

While some retailers believe the plan will offer new marketing opportunities, others are concerned that they could be forced to spend millions of dollars to protect themselves against “cyber-squatting” by registering multiple variations of their names to keep competitors, critics or unauthorized users from doing so.

Application fees for each of the new domains have been set by ICANN at $185,000, but NRF expects most companies to spend $250,000 per name when legal fees and consultants are included, plus another $50,000 to $100,000 a year to manage the domains thereafter. In some cases, assignment of a domain sought by more than one party would be decided by auction, further driving up costs.

Retailers struggle to integrate demand forecasts across the organization

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

MIAMI, FL – Retailers believe demand forecasting capabilities to be critical to their operations but struggle to incorporate demand forecasting insights deeper into their businesses, acccording to RSR Research’s latest report, “Crystal Ball 2.0: The State of Retail Demand Forecasting, Benchmark 2011,” RSR’s first annual benchmark on the topic.

RSRThese findings are based on a survey of 83 retailers between January-April 2011.

“Retailers have made significant investments in optimization technologies, particularly around price and labor, and demand forecasts come hand-in-hand with those capabilities,” said Brian Kilcourse, Managing Partner at RSR and a co-author of the report. “But the forecasting engines that create those inputs into optimization tools can often be completely different in terms of assumptions, time horizons, models. It adds sophistication to retailers’ capabilities, but also creates some challenging complications – building up internal siloes instead of knocking them down.”

“With more channels to manage and more leading indicators to demand, such as social media and consumer intent, retailers need all the help they can get in forecasting and managing demand,” adds Nikki Baird, the report’s co-author. “The challenge isn’t that the crystal ball is cloudy but retailers just have too many forecast engines, each with a slightly different prediction than the next. Companies have yet to figure out how to reconcile them all.”

“Crystal Ball 2.0: The State of Retail Demand Forecasting, Benchmark 2011″ contains analysis of the business drivers, opportunities, and organizational constraints surrounding demand forecasts, as well as recommendations for creating successful demand forecasting capabilities. The report is part of RSR Research’s ongoing efforts to provide market intelligence on retail technology trends, and can be downloaded here:

Optoro nabs $1.85M for helping retailers remarket distressed inventory online

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

OptoroLANHAM, MD -Lanham, MD-based Optoro has closed a $1.85 million Series A financing from Durham, NC-based SJF Ventures, QED Investors and Phil Pfeffer of Treemont Capital.  Optoro sells comprehensive asset recovery solutions for the distressed inventory of retailers, manufacturers and 3rd party providers.

Optoro was founded in 2004 to remarket the idle assets of businesses by leveraging the buying power of millions of online shoppers. It evolved from exclusively an eBay reseller to multi-channel online asset recovery with proprietary software and remarketing algorithms. Currently, Optoro provides our scalable solutions to clients ranging from mid-sized online retailers to large publicly-traded manufacturers.

Optoro specializes in direct-to-consumer remarketing of customer returns, overstock and refurbished products. Its services include reporting & analytics, warehousing & fulfillment, inspection & testing, research & marketing and eco-friendly product disposal.

Optoro says its solution recovers significantly greater value than through a traditional liquidator and is scalable for clients ranging from mid-sized online retailers to large publicly-traded manufacturers.

“Optoro is quickly becoming a leading direct-to-consumer remarketing platform for the reverse supply chain,” said David Griest, managing director at SJF Ventures.

“With over $100 billion of distressed inventory annually in the U.S., Optoro is disintermediating the conventional middlemen and providing higher returns with fully transparent visibility and data analytics for its clients.”