Saturday, July 31, 2010

Web Cookies for Dummies

Readers of this blog have certainly heard of cookies, and you probably know a lot about how they work. So the first half of the nifty little video below from the Wall Street Journal will be old hat.

What may be of greater interest is the second half, that covers third-party cookies, which are placed, tracked, and used by third-party ad networks. A bigger take-away is the knowledge that these third parties can track cookies you have deleted, and by using "flash cookies" can even replace cookies that you have deleted!

Going beyond the primer, a couple of professional-level references appear below the video.

For your reference, here's a rather lengthy listing of
Ad Networks and Exchanges. And for those of you who are really interested, here's a June 2010 report on the "State of the Industry: Digital Ad Operations," which concludes "The greatest opportunities for survival in this new [ad serving] ecosystem -- and, in the end, securing leading position -- all relate to making the system itself less complex." As in Ad Serving for Dummies?! (A somewhat related story: Will Real-Time Bidded Inventory Change Media Planning and Buying Forever?)

And then -- ta da! -- there's this little goodie, which will give you literally hours of fascinating things to explore. Click on any of the "satellite" logo buttons (pearls) for that button's content (the WSJ "What They Know" is particularly intriguing). The tiny black "pearl" next to the center pearl will take you to a 2nd, hidden dimension - seriously! (And each of those have further I said, "hours of fascinating things").

And one more interesting Cookie video:

Then there's the FTC's List of Corporate Privacy Abusers Shows Advertisers Can't Be Trusted With Data Security and Microsoft's Role in the Erosion of Online Privacy.

Internet Sales Tax Debate Flairs Up on Capital Hill

Internet Retailer reported on July 29: As some members of Congress gathered today to promote the recently introduced Delahunt bill to mandate sales tax collection by Internet retailers, others pushed a new House resolution by Rep. Paul Hodes (D, NH) that opposes it.

“Congress should not impose any new burdensome or unfair tax collecting requirements on small online businesses, which would ultimately hurt the economy and consumers in the U.S.,” the Hodes resolution says.

The Hodes resolution, which has bipartisan support from four representatives, runs counter to House Rule 5660, The Main Street Fairness Act, which was introduced on July 1 by Rep. William Delahunt (D, MA) and calls for Congress to support the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement and authorize states that abide by that agreement to force Internet and catalog retailers to collect and remit sales from customers in those states. In effect, the Delahunt bill seeks to overturn the status quo that says retailers don’t have to collect sales tax in states where they don’t have a physical presence, such as stores, offices or distribution centers.

The Hodes resolution doesn’t mention the Delahunt bill or the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement  by name, but it contends that  “any federal legislation that would upset [the Internet’s] open and fair environment and impose new onerous and burdensome tax collecting schemes on hundreds of thousands of small online retailers would not only adversely impact thousands of jobs and reduce consumer choice, but would also effectively put an end to the robust e-commerce marketplace that consumers in the U.S. currently enjoy.”

The Hodes resolution was supported today by NetChoice, a coalition of online retailers and related organizations opposed to sales tax collection by Internet and catalog retailers. Its executive director, Steve DelBianco, said in a conference call today that collecting and remitting sales tax would cost small retailers an amount equal to 15% of the tax they collected.

... Retailers have differing views on whether conversion drops in states where they have to collect sales tax. Mike Hackley, CEO of web-only retailer, says the sales tax he collects in his home state of Louisiana does not appear to have hurt sales to Louisiana residents. But Neil Kugelman, CEO of web-only jewelry retailer Inc., says his sales in his home state of New York are lower because he has to charge tax to New York consumers. “Jewelry customers in New York prefer buying from companies not in New York to avoid paying sales tax,” he says. “And my conversion rate in New York is lower than in other states.” He could not provide details.

GSI Commerce Inc., a provider of e-commerce technology and services to hundreds of retailers, does have detailed data, at least for one client. This online retailer, which GSI did not name, established a physical presence in certain states and thus had to collect sales tax there. Sales in those states dropped 12% over the nine-month period GSI studied in 2008 and 2009, says Fiona Dias, executive vice president of strategy and marketing. “When we think of how retailers have to fight for every bit of sales and every point in their conversion rates, this is a very big deal,” Dias says.

Dias adds that the client retailer sells a wide assortment of merchandise. The decline in sales was steepest among the retailer’s most expensive items, she adds.

The governing board of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, meanwhile, says that a mandatory system of sales tax collection, if imposed in states that have a sales tax, would collect $18.6 billion in tax revenue this year that would otherwise go uncollected. The NetChoice group disputes that figure and contends it’s far lower.

Oracle, IBM Caused American Eagle's Eight-Day Blackout

Evan Schuman reports in StoreFrontBackTalk that: "It seems a failure in an Oracle backup utility coupled with the failure of IBM hosting managers to detect it and to verify that a disaster recovery site was operational were the key factors in turning a standard site outage at American Eagle Outfitters into an eight-day-long disaster, according to an IT source involved in the probe.

"The initial problem was pretty much along the lines of what StorefrontBacktalk reported on July 29, which was a series of server failures. But the problems with two of the biggest names in retail tech–IBM and Oracle–are what made this situation balloon into a nightmare."

The lesson here is a warning to all CIOs and systems managers that outsourcing your back-up, disaster recovery and Web Server platform to "the cloud" does not resolve you of responsibility for assuring that these are all being managed properly (even if this includes on site inspections) -- no matter how big and "reliable" the third-party providers are, and to review your Service Level Agreements to make sure that appropriate financial penalties are in place in the event that these services are not provided as specified.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fifth Gear Direct Commerce Services

The other day I received a box via FedEx from Fifth Gear, formerly Sigma Micro, which now specializes in order fulfillment, call center, and eCommerce and Creative Services. Inside the box, along with a half dozen smart-looking 8"x9.5" corporate brochures in full rich color hot off the press and a cover letter was a 5x7 digital frame. Nice gift. But it gets better: loaded onto the frame's memory chip was a brief slide show with an overview of Fifth Gear's services.

Campaigns like this are not cheap, and the primary objective is usually to generate buzz and create awareness. Fifth Gear's efforts scored highly on both counts, as far as I'm concerned. It was a "class act." I spent about 15 minutes unpacking and setting up the frame, then watched the short slide show, getting much deeper into Fifth Gear's message than I would have with any other type of promotion. So kudos to them. And I learned something I hadn't known before, namely that they now offer an array of Web site design services, SEO, Pay-per-click campaigns, E-mail marketing, and social media services, supported by a Creative Services team in-house to assist clients in all aspects of brand marketing. If this promotion is an indication of their level of expertise, it is impressively high.

I contacted Jesse Kurth, Director of Marketing Communications at Fifth Gear, for background information. "These packages are being sent to very intimate numbers of people, about 25 at a time, with whom we want to deepen our business relationship," Jesse told me. "The current group includes only reputable industry consultants and our goal is to either introduce or further educate on our full breadth of services.

"Of course, we have nearly 30 years of expertise across order fulfillment, call center operations, and order management systems, but the Fifth Gear name is new in the industry. We want to reach out very personally to key individuals like yourself, build on the strength of our history, and communicate the tremendous value now represented by the Fifth Gear name.

"As for our newer creative services, we've developed considerable in-house marketing expertise by advising retailers through multiple sales channels for so long. Those creative services are largely focused on eCommerce and online marketing, leveraging our deep experience in technology development, Website design and usability.

"Your readers can view brief listings of our ecommerce and creative marketing services at, and, but the best way for anyone to learn more about the depth of our offerings is to simply give us a call (800-383-4421)."

If you are in need of such services, I suggest you give them a call. That's not an "endorsement." It's just makes sense to include them on your short list of possible providers.

How Canadians Reach Retail Websites

Says Heather Hopkins on Experian: Hitwise:
Canadians are heavy users of search engines and as we see in most markets, Search Engines are the top source of upstream visits to retail websites. In the month of June 2010, one third (33.21%) of upstream visits to Shopping and Classifieds websites came directly from a Search Engine. But, that is down year over year. In June 2009, Search Engines accounted for 39.18% of upstream visits, a 15% decline. What is making up the difference?

The following chart shows the top sources of upstream Canadian visits to retail websites in the month of June 2010 compared to June 2009. As illustrated in the chart, we have seen a slight increase in visits from other Shopping and Classifieds websites (shopping comparison in particular), Social Networks and Business and Finance.

The largest increase among these top industries was from Social Networks, up 37% year over year. Last week, the top downstream Shopping and Classifieds websites downstream from were mainly Classifieds websites (eBay Canada, various Kijiji and Craigslist city websites). Also among the top 30 were Sears Canada, Avon Canada, Amazon Canada, Ticketmaster Canada, and Walmart Canada.

This is an interesting mix of retailers, and not necessarily those you'd expect to be getting the most downstream traffic from Facebook. Stay tuned for more on social networking and retailing in Canada.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Will the New .co Domain Make a Difference?

Alec Williams, Marketing Specialist AT Fifth Gear, writes:

If you have missed out on that special domain name, you might want to start looking again. There was some big news this past week in the world of the Internet, most importantly the introduction of the new .CO business domain names. You can now purchase .CO domain names for your business, organization, or personal website.

For instance, the ever so popular Overstock company purchased “” for a measly $350,000. You may say that is a lot of money but for Overstock the purchase for was a wise branding decision. This is just a minor expenditure for their re-branding efforts from Overstock to simply “O.”

The .CO craze was developed for those business specific organizations to purchase their domain and not be cluttered by all the other domain names out there. As for our organization, a company (other than our own) also called Fifth Gear had already taken the domain So in order to find a domain that coincided with our brand we had to purchase This was of course slightly different than our brand. This was not a major concern to us because we had the resources and marketing capabilities to associate Fifth Gear (order fulfillment provider) with

The true question is whether this .CO era will make a difference in online business. We believe that it will free up space for more companies to participate in the online business industry and provide more choices for the consumer. It will also help grow existing businesses to provide a segmented market of .com users and .co users.

For online retailers this is a big step also. This will increase their exposure to the Internet and will hopefully boost sales. Providing another avenue for Internet domains and businesses, .CO will be a new and exciting step towards an ever changing technology.

(See also a companion posting on the domain name marketplace.)

Seeking A Better Domain Name Marketplace

Thought there was nothing very interesting to say about Internet domain names? Think again! Frank Shilling of takes you first to the south of France, then to an Apple store, and finally to a Nestle shop in Europe (where the Nespresso coffee makers are really big sellers) to make his point: "Compare Apple’s phone marketing or Nestle’s coffee marketing to the domain name business and you will see a glaring dichotomy.

 "I recently sold a valuable name and had to hold the seller’s hand as they created an escrow transaction, worked through a contract, requested an invoice, and worked through a cumbersome registrar transfer - all before they ever even turned on a website. Still the buyer saw the potential of their purchase as prolific, and worked hard to muddle through the steps to an end.  There was no system. Much like the real estate system in France, this insider still received a great tactical advantage because of a lack of organized information in regard to the value of the name.

"Domain names are critical to the Internet economy and to all web marketing efforts. They are bought, sold, leased and fought for each day – yet there is just a small patchwork of IP management companies which hold the hands of IP interests looking to acquire names....While I predict many great returns for those who buy Nestle (Nespresso) stock, I predict untold riches for the mastermind who helps the consumer understand the lifetime value of domains – and to ease delivery of same."

He's got much more to say on this. Take a look. See also a companion blog post on the new .co domain suffix.

Designing, Creating and Managing An "Information Supply Chain"

"Great companies need to design, build and manage how data will be consumed within their organization and then structure everything else around that," says Todd L. Michaud in StorefrontBackTalk ("Information Supply Chain, What It Is And Why You Need To Start Talking About It"). "Companies are starting to dip their toes into an 'Integrated Information Supply Chain.' But I am not currently aware of anyone doing it on a massive scale. Why aren’t companies moving faster? How do you take billions of retail transactions, millions of billions of social media interactions, millions of marketing impressions and hundreds of thousands of operational statistics and merge them into a set of tools that provide the right people with the information required to maximize their impact on the business? That is the million dollar question." Read Michaud's entire editorial to see where he is going with this.

You may disagree that no one is effectively tackling this challenge yet, but it certainly raises issues that transcend the normal realm "Business Intelligence" in the sense that Michaud is arguing for a much more comprehensive approach. Eric T. Peterson, Senior Partner at Web Analytics Demystified, speaking at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago this past June, stated that companies gather vast amounts of data about the activity on their eCommerce sites which must then be translated into real information that can yield insights into what works and what doesn’t in order to be useful - essentially Michaud's point, as well. But to be useful, this information must yield insights that show how well what’s working achieves results, which can ultimately lead to what top managers actually want, which is recommendations for action (see pyramid chart).
The associates to whom the analysts report (see chart below) will tend to use the data and information in spreadsheets and OLAP platforms (with everything preformatted), while the analysts themselves will use much more sophisticated statistical tools, as shown in this diagram:
But as Michaud asks, "Is it even possible to design a system where the reports [you need] can be run in a reasonable period of time?"
Most of the technology needed to create an effective "information supply chain already exist." It's finding the best ways to implement them cost-effectively and in a productive environment that remain a challenge. As Michaud admits, "For the past few months I have devoted a significant amount of my time to designing a holistic information architecture and Information Supply Chain for FOCUS Brands. Even in a midsize company like FOCUS Brands, this task has proven to be extremely difficult. It basically means we are defining each data element within the organization, who owns it (systems and/or persons), who needs it (systems and/or persons) and how change will be managed. Once we have that aspect completed, the next challenge will be in designing systems and processes to enable that information architecture."

Merchants - not service provider - liable in case of data breach

PC Guy writes in StorefrontBacktalk: Who will be liable if the service provider’s system is breached, or if the software or systems provided to the merchant contain vulnerabilities that enabled a breach?

In almost ever case, it is the merchant who will be held responsible by the acquirer and card brands, because those parties have no contractual relationship with the service provider. In theory, the merchant might be able to file a claim against the service provider, but many service providers require merchants to waive the right to such claims. Some even require merchants to indemnify the service provider against claims from third parties (i.e cardholders and acquirers).

Even assuming the merchant did sue, and win, it would probably be a hollow victory: Most service providers lack sufficient resources to pay tens of millions of dollars (or more) in claims that could be made against them by the hundreds or thousands of merchants they service.

Using a service provider does not automatically provide a merchant with a “free pass” to avoid liability, regardless of what the merchant’s agreement with the service provider might state.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mothercare Invests in Social Media

Catalogue & eBusiness reports that maternity and nursery products retailer Mothercare in the UK is investing in social media. It has hired London-based Diffusion to develop an “online engagement strategy” that will see it bolster its presence on parenting blogs, forums and social-networking sites. The agency will also work on increasing the profile of Mothercare’s social network Gurgle in the national and lifestyle press.

Amazon Powered By Facebook

Social Commerce Today reports the following:
Facebook and Amazon have just reinforced their status as the ‘IT couple’ in social commerce right now.

Hot on the heels of an Amazon powered store on Facebook for consumer goods giant P&G, Amazon is deploying Facebook-powered recommendations on its own site.  There’s also a natty birthday reminder function – with gift recommendations – for your Facebook friends.

Specifically, when you now log in to Amazon – you can activate your “Amazon Facebook Page” (in public beta – screenshot below), which is accessible from your Amazon personalized store – and shows:
  • Your Facebook photo and profile (seems trivial but it makes the experience so much more personal)
  • Upcoming Birthday and Gift Suggestions for Your Facebook Friends – from info scraped from their social graph
  • Amazon Items Popular Among Your Facebook Friends
  • Recommendations Based on Your Favorite Books on Facebook
  • Recommendations Based on Your Favorite Music on Facebook
  • Recommendations Based on Your Favorite Movies on Facebook
All this is entirely optional, and Amazon goes to some length to lay to rest any privacy qualms that tend come with all things Facebook - stating clearly that it will not share account and purchase details with Facebook, nor will it contact Facebook friends.

Social commerce is a two-sided coin – helping people buy where they connect, and connect where they buy – and Amazon looks like it wants its logo printed on both sides of the coin.  By deploying Facebook-powered recommendations on its site, Amazon is making the eCommerce experience more personal and social.

Our initial view is that this greatly improves the Amazon experience. But the current beta is still a far cry what’s possible, in terms of real-time social shopping, or even simple deploying Facebook social plugins.

While Amazon might have ‘issues’ with outsourcing too much social functionality to the social network – for most brands and retailers it should be a quick, easy and inexpensive win.

And he very fact that Amazon has jumped into bed with Facebook should be pause for thought for all brands and retailers – whilst there can be a number of good reasons not to emulate Amazon, there are also good reasons to do just that – and here, we think, emulating Amazon by deploying Facebook connectivity could be a smart move.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Maginus Named MS Dynamics Partner of the Year in the UK

Maginus, a provider of integrated multichannel order management solutions, has won the 2010 Microsoft Dynamics Independent Service Vendor of the Year Award for the UK.  

Maginus was presented with the title for "demonstrating exceptional business success by optimising the use of Microsoft Dynamics to deliver innovative solutions that exceed customer expectations and surpass business goals."

The award was presented at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2010, Microsoft’s annual premier partner event, which took place in Washington, D.C., at the company Microsoft honored twenty-seven of its partners from around the world with the 2010 Microsoft Dynamics Regional Partner of the Year awards.

Russell Dorset, Sales and Marketing Director for Maginus, said: “This award is a testament to the sales excellence and marketing creativity of the Maginus team. We have already seen great results with Microsoft Dynamics AX in the retail and wholesale distribution sectors and we will continue to build on this moving forward. Microsoft Dynamics AX provides a truly end-to-end service to our customers which helps them maximize sales across channels, minimizing costs and improving customer service.”

The award winners were selected for their dedication to delivering solutions that meet diverse customer needs. Several key criteria were considered in selecting Microsoft Dynamics Certified Partners for the special recognition, including outstanding sales performance, thorough technological expertise on Microsoft Dynamics products and services, and feedback from Microsoft team members.

Doug Kennedy, vice president of Microsoft Dynamics Partners, said: “Each year, it is a privilege for us to recognize the innovative contributions made by organizations within our diverse Microsoft Dynamics partner community. Maginus serves as a leader within this community because of the value it provides through its solutions as well as its exceptional levels of customer service. We are proud to congratulate Maginus on being named as our top Microsoft Dynamics partner of the year in the UK.”

Sunday, July 25, 2010

MyBuys Acquires Veruta, Offers Predictive Remarketing

MyBuys recently introduced Predictive Remarketing, a consumer profile-driven remarketing suite designed to drive higher response rates from consumers across all channels including display advertising, email and direct mail.

The company also recently announced the acquisition of online remarketing provider Veruta, a move designed to power the display advertising component of the new suite with its advertising platform.

"Veruta has two key elements," notes Bob Cell, CEO or MyBuys. "A dynamic ad delivery capability, and a real-time spend optimization solution. By combining these two elements with MyBuys personalized recommendations, retailers get the one-two punch: more targeted ads getting to consumers through the most cost effective ad network. No other remarketing or brand advertising solution on the market has the combination."

MyBuys said the Predictive Remarketing solution is helping its clients drive more than 500% improvement in click-through rates (CTRs) and over 50% improvements over all other remarketing offerings. MyBuys solutions are designed to predict what shoppers want to buy and present multiple options to each consumer through display ads.

In an interview I did with Bob Cell at the Internet Retailer Conference in Chicago in June, he explained "We show targeted offers to customers in ways that others can’t. We are the only ones who proactively send an automated, personalized, customized remarketing e-mail to consumers, which looks like it is coming from the merchant. Everyone else is in the correlation business, finding connections between consumers and products by what other consumers have tended to do in the way of cross-correlated purchases: someone bought this, then they bought that. It’s product associations, and you don’t have to know anything about the products. We do something entirely different. We break down the attributes of relevance of every product: size, material, fabric, brand, price point, etc. You can do a statistical analysis of these attributes, which we do within an array of category structures based on the range of merchandise the merchant offers.

"By working at the attribute level, we are much better able to analyze what trade-offs and decisions consumers made that led to the actual purchase decision. It also means that we can apply attribute analysis to virtually any other product. Products come and go, but they all share certain attributes. So while others build models from the outside in, at the consumer level, we build models form the inside out, at the attribute level.

"It also means that our models are not just retrospective, but truly predictive. We gather the data by analyzing every click on every purchase on every consumer, and we can add in off-line purchases as well. That allows us to send an e-mails with offers based on predictive modeling of all the attributes of a consumer’s past purchases, not based on correlations of the purchases of other consumers. And we also factor in demographic attributes of the consumer – age, gender, and so – to add a further dimension to the analysis. It truly is how the ideal retail sales person intuitively approaches each of their best customers, based on a grasp of the attributes of what that person has bought before."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Social Media Changing the Way B2B Companies Communicate

According tο аn August 2009 survey bу Mzinga anԁ Babson Executive Education, 86% οf companies frοm various industries ѕаіԁ social media now forms раrt οf tһеіr businesses. Sixty-one percent һаνе integrated social applications within tһеіr Websites, wһіƖе 40% һаνе set up standalone online communities. Thirty-nine percent сһοѕе tο embed third-party widgets іntο tһеіr sites.

Marketing wаѕ cited аѕ tһе top reason fοr adopting social media tools (57%), followed bу internal collaboration (39%).

In another survey done bу McKinsey 53% οf business respondents ѕаіԁ tһеу рƖаn tο increase tһеіr investment in social media tools and technologies in tһе next three years.

All this is because B2B companies are eager to embrace a word-οf-mouth marketing phenomenon tһаt commands a higher level οf customer engagement, and in somе cases, better return on investment (ROI), tһan conventional advertising.

mCommerce Closes Big Ticket In-store Sales

The quick research conducted on a mobile device while in-store is frequently the final push customers need to make the purchase. You'll often see big-ticket customers standing in store aisles, iPhone or BlackBerry in hand, researching product comparisons and reviews for the big-screen TV or appliance they are considering.... notes Carl Prindle of E-Commerce Times. Thus, "integrating mobile into a comprehensive cross-channel strategy ensures you are meeting your customers where -- and how -- they shop for your products today"

Continues Prindle:
These mobile in-store behaviors underscore the importance of complete synchronization between pricing, promotions and selection offered in-store and what your customers see via online and mobile research. Tailoring your mobile sites to a user's location and offering localized product or promotional information consistent with your traditional website is critical to enabling customers' mobile research.

Enabling the Socially Mobile
You'll also see consumers in stores take a photo, share a link or ask advice from friends in their social networks or on Twitter prior to their purchase. Product reviews -- part of the broader definition of "social networking" -- are a particularly important way to build customer confidence in a big-ticket purchase. Mobile consumers are looking not only for facts to support their purchase decision, but also endorsements from friends (or at least other consumers).

The impact of social media as part of a complete cross-channel approach cannot be ignored. Already impacting the traditional e-commerce space, the growing use of social applications through mobile devices highlights the importance for retailers to carve out a social media presence that ensures that their brands are visible and accessible, and that their websites are optimized for mobile viewing and sharing.

Next Steps for Retailers
While the mobile commerce evolution is still in its early stages, there are certainly steps that retailers can -- and should -- take advantage of now.

First, be sure that your "traditional" website fully supports your local stores. Then (and only then) decide on your objectives for your mobile strategy -- what consumer behaviors do you want to enable on mobile devices? With this strategy in hand, evaluate the pages on your site that support these behaviors. If needed, update them to be more mobile friendly -- or develop mobile-friendly alternatives.

When optimally and appropriately leveraged, mobile commerce technologies will help you capture the new multichannel consumers, whether they're at home or at work, or shopping near -- or in -- one of your stores.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Customer Service Analytics Empower Predictive Process

The latest Forrester Wave on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Customer Service Solutions includes 19 vendors in an in-depth market study, evaluated against 196 criteria. 

One of the key findings from this Forrester Wave is that a growing range of CRM vendors have incorporated deep analytics features into their customer service capabilities. Most provide embedded, out-of-the-box business intelligence (BI) features such as reporting, query, online analytical processing, dashboarding, scorecarding, and key performance indicators prebuilt to support their customer service applications. In particular, vendors such as Oracle, Microsoft, SAP, and Pegasystems/Chordiant offer embedded predictive models to drive real-time "next best offer" recommendations in call centers and portal-based customer service scenarios.

CRM and other operational business applications are increasingly incorporating "predictive process" technologies (see above chart) to drive adaptive, agile responses to changing circumstances.  Vendors are also embedding these agile technologies in their enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other line-of-business applications to leverage inline predictive models across diverse business processes, but many companies are  acquiring the underlying components from disparate vendors and integrating it all themselves. See Forrester Wave on Predictive Analytics and Data Mining (PA/DM) solutions for an in-depth discussion of commercial solutions for predictive analytics that may be deployed into many business processes.

James Kobielus, one of the authors of the study, provides more detail at Intelligent Enterprise.

TheFind Partners With Mercent For New CPA Program for eTailers

TheFind, the second largest and fastest growing shopping search engine according to comScore, and Mercent, a leading provider of online channel marketing technology and services for retailers, today announced a partnership to open TheFind Direct™ to Mercent’s retail clients.

Currently in private beta, TheFind Direct is a new program that allows merchants to establish a direct commission-based (CPA) marketing referral program with TheFind.  Participating Mercent retailers can improve the visibility and conversion of their merchandise on TheFind, which sees more than 25 million monthly shopping visits, and pay only for the traffic that converts into actual sales.

“Commission-based, or CPA traffic, is an attractive marketing model for online retailers competing in this highly competitive landscape,” said Eric Best, CEO of Mercent.  “As the first and only channel management provider to integrate with TheFind, Mercent is providing its clients with direct access to one of the Internet’s fastest growing and high volume sales channels.”

“The most frequent question we hear from many of the tens of thousands of merchants who see quality traffic from TheFind is ‘how can we do more together’,” said Siva Kumar, CEO of TheFind.  “TheFind Direct is a solution for these merchants, and for the leading service providers they rely upon, like Mercent, to drive more and better leads from TheFind.”

Mercent customers interested in participating in the private beta of TheFind Direct should contact their Mercent account manager.  Merchants who are accepted into the private beta will receive a 25% discount from TheFind for their first six months of enrollment in TheFind Direct. TheFind anticipates opening the beta program to additional merchants in the coming months, building towards a program launch this fall.

About TheFind
TheFind is the fastest growing shopping search engine, the second largest overall, and the service people return to more than any other according to comScore’s measure of comparison shopping engines.  Founded in 2005 and profitable since late 2008, TheFind makes it easy to shop for anything in every store, all at once.  TheFind is built on patented search and crawl technology, backed by Bain Capital Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Redpoint Ventures, and is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif. with offices in San Francisco.

About Mercent
Mercent is a leading provider of online channel marketing technology and services for retailers. Through its award-winning Mercent Retail™ SAAS technology and Mercent Performance™ professional services, Mercent helps the world’s most successful online merchants including 1-800-Flowers, Bass Pro Shops, Brookstone, GUESS?, L'Occitane USA, Redcats Group, and REI optimize online shopping channel marketing campaigns to drive customer acquisition, revenues, profits, and inventory velocity. Mercent is the single point of integration with a vast online advertising network that includes transactional marketplaces such as and eBay; comparison shopping engines (CSEs) such as and NextTag; affiliate marketing programs such as LinkShare and the Google Affiliate Network; and other product advertising channels including Microsoft Bing Cashback and Google Product Listing Ads (PLA). The company is a 'Selling on' Certified System Integrator, Gold Certified Partner, eBay Certified Provider, certified Google Product Search Partner. Founded by a seasoned team of veterans, Mercent is a venture-funded company based in Seattle, WA.

Wharton Conference Panel On Cross-Channel Integration

New mobile capability, social networks and better analytics will play an important role in the future of the retail industry, according to speakers on a recent Wharton Retail Conference panel titled, "E-Commerce: Is It the Future of Retail?"

Most retailers continue to view online customers and shoppers at physical stores as two separate entities, panelists said, but offered many suggestions and insights about how to transcend this dichotomy, while acknowledging that cross channeling is often an overused buzzword that presents many obstacles for retailers, including the need to update organizational systems to integrate in-store operations with Internet retailing. But Successful integration, of course, will require top managers to embrace new technology systems.

"In the Age of Mobile Networks, E-Commerce Gets Personal" offers a good overview of one of the Conference's key sessions.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Future of the Customer Database?

Here's an intriguing take on the future of marketing databases from Chris Dewey, the CIO at SIGMA Marketing Group, which appears on Sigma's Fifth Gear blog:

The emergence of digital interactive channels and social networks poses a challenge for the typical database solution…How do we capture and standardize the characteristics of the customer we’re interacting with online (identity)?  How do we know if their behaviors or activities are significant to the brand or marketing strategy (relevancy)?  Having less than definitive answers to these questions could cause the average marketing customer database to seize up and its developers to break out in hives.  To the product marketers, these less-than-perfect and rapidly changing data sources are a valuable source of leading indicators of consumer behavior.

Uncertainty is not defeat.
Although potentially difficult to accept for “black and white” system developers, the real answer is to allow probability into the Data Model of your marketing database.  Probability that a point of contact( a cookie or an email address) is a known customer or prospect, and probability that their actions or expressions are indications that are important enough to be leveraged in marketing decision making.  The level of uncertainty – which could range from completely anonymous activity, to indications that visitors are members of probable segments– and ending up with a direct connection to contact names and/or direct consumers – needs to become part of the database design.  When supported by sound behavioral segmentation and predictive modeling used to make the probable connections, the customer database can survive the challenge, and retain its value to the enterprise.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

State of Online Retailing

The full results of the first State of Retailing Online (SORO) 2010 survey conducted by and Forrester Research were released today, covering interactive marketing, social media and mobile.

Results are broken out by company type (multichannel vs. pureplay), size (annual Web revenue), and Web selling tenure, as well as by category for apparel, accessories & footwear; beauty & personal care; general merchandisers; home; and sporting goods & accessories.

A few highlights:

    * Retailers surveyed reported an average of 29% growth in Web sales for 2009 vs. 2008.
    * Search still takes the lion’s share of interactive marketing budgets, with paid search dominating as the largest single allocation of marketing spend. Furthermore, nine out of 10 retailers surveyed noted search engine marketing was among the most effective customer acquisition sources last year.
    * Retailers are investing this year in browse and navigation functionality, as well as product page content.
    * Four out of five retailers surveyed said that this is a great time to pursue social marketing strategies so they can experiment and learn from them – even if the return is as yet unclear.
    * To date, social marketing initiatives implemented include social network pages, microblogs, and customer ratings and reviews, among others. Anticipated investments going forward center on further leveraging customer/user-generated content.
    * Mobile is another significant focus for online retailers. While many are still developing their mobile strategy, retailers surveyed have big plans for functionality for this emerging channel, anticipating an average investment this year for mobile of about $170,000 (and quite a bit more for large and multichannel retailers specifically).

2010 Cloud Computing and IT Staffing Survey

Information Week Analytics has produced a 2010 Cloud Computing and IT Staffing Survey that you can download as a free PDF. The survey reports that as enterprises of all sizes are beginning to evaluate the business agility and cost saving benefits that could be had by moving internal operations to public cloud service providers, their IT staffs—from CIOs to middle managers to systems administrators to help desk workers—are left wondering what the impact is going to be on them.

To figure that out, you need to ask a few key questions:
  • How is our business going to change? 
  • Who will determine what functions are cloud-ready and which are not? 
  • How do I move adoption forward in a way that maximizes benefit and minimizes risk? 
The issues get more specific as they dig deeper:
  • Which IT operations must stay in-house, perhaps because of compliance or criticality? 
  • What job skills and roles will we need to add or retain, and which will decrease in importance? 
  • Will the enterprise need more or fewer managers?
  • In what areas?

Several essential points emerged that will have profound impact on the future of your business, your IT organization—and your career.
  • The public cloud is here to stay, and usage will grow. Even cautious organizations will consume services, including business-critical functions, as providers mature and build trust relationships with enterprises.
  • Internal IT staff levels will generally either stay static or contract slightly, depending on the types of services adopted.
  • Traditional IT technical roles will be less in demand, replaced by “softer” but broader skills, such as provider contracting and management.
  • The staffing levels and job skills required in any given organization will depend heavily on the public cloud service models adopted: software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) or infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

Find out how 828 technology professionals interviewed by Information Week are answering these questions.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Live Chat Boosts Online Sales

As reported by CNBC, about 28 percent of retailers currently provide services where customers can click a link on the Web site to start a "live chat" session, a Forrester Research survey said. But by the end of the year, 26.5 percent more retailers will add "click-to-chat" capabilities on their Web sites, according to the research firm.

Although the technology has existed for nearly a decade, retailers have been slow to add it to their sites because of several hurdles. "It's been slow to get adoption," said Sucharita Mulpuru, retail analyst at Forrester, because “It’s an expense. It’s not just ‘plug-in a button.’ It requires human resources and management and making sure the call center is trained. Frankly, it’s not a standard. It’s nice-to-have, but it’s not a must-have.”

Also, when customers make a high-priced purchase or when product information gets complicated, 67 percent of consumers prefer "click to call" compared to 33 percent that prefer "click to chat."

However, Nordstrom, which offers live chat from specialists in beauty and cosmetics, saw its online and catalog sales rise almost 35%. “If you want to talk to someone specifically on beauty and cosmetics, we have tabs so you can get there directly,” said Colin Johnson, a spokesperson for Nordstrom. “We found that customers have responded (favorably) to having those additional specialist chat buttons on the Web sites.” While the significant growth in sales can't be attributed solely to online chat, it certainly didn't hurt, either!

FGH (UK) Using Analytics for Credit Risk

Freemans Grattan Holdings (FGH, the UK arm of Otto Group, the world’s largest mail order group and the second largest retailer on the Internet) has deployed KXEN analytics in its credit risk team after three years of using the solution in marketing. With bad-debt-propensity scoring that relies on internal customer data as well as third party information, FGH is set to reduce customer debt by as much as one-third, according to predictions.

“We’d used KXEN successfully in marketing for three years and saw no reason to consider a different solution for credit risk modeling,” says FGH head of customer management Andy Bryan. “The target was to improve our ability to predict which customers would default. The new KXEN scorecard has significantly improved our authorization process and retrospective analysis suggests we can cut debt by as much as 33% with only a 3% lower acceptance rate for credit.”

Combining three of the biggest names in the UK home shopping market, FGH holds a dominant position with some 1.5 million customers and sales of more than £250 million in its last financial year. Its customers come from all age groups and many of them are fiercely loyal, having shopped with FGH for years. The availability of credit to people who are unable to get it through other sources is a key USP.

“We’re still accepting a similar number of credit orders. The big difference is that now we’re accepting more orders from good customers and fewer from bad customers. That’s because with KXEN we’re able to use things we know about how customers have managed their accounts with us in the past, rather than having to rely on a single external score,” says Andy Bryan. “It also means that our long-standing customers who have built up a level of trust with our brands are being treated fairly.”

“Now we can be much more granular in our approach to credit scoring. We have a better way of making decisions and a better way of limiting our exposure,” says Andy Bryan. “It’s having a major impact on debt but only a minor impact on overall sales.”

About KXEN
KXEN, with headquarters in San Francisco and offices in other US cities plus Paris and London, calls itself "The Data Mining Automation Company," delivering Customer Lifecycle Analytics solutions for CRM lifecycle analytics to drive improvements in customer acquisition, retention, cross-sell and risk applications. KXEN’s solutions are based on patented innovations and have been deployed at over 400 customers including Bank of America, Barclays, Cox Communications, Lowe’s, Meredith Corporation,, Rogers, Vodafone, and Wells Fargo.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lilly Pulitzer Launches mCommerce Site

DM News reports that apparel and accessories retailer Lilly Pulitzer launched its first mobile commerce website in early July. The portal will be compatible with all Web-enabled mobile phones and optimized for the iPhone and Android devices.

The mobile site will allow customers to search Lilly Pulitzer's full catalog, read product descriptions, view photos, purchase items and locate nearby stores. The site was created by mobile services provider Digby and utilizes Venda's e-commerce platform.

Kendall Swenson, senior promotions associate at Lilly Pulitzer, said she expects the new platform to increase sales and be popular among customers of all ages.

“We want our customer to be able to buy her Lilly products instantly, no matter where she might be running to,” Swenson said. “We have upwards of 85,000 fans on our Facebook page, and the fastest growing demographic is the 45-plus range. We're looking to continue to capture an older customer and grow this base.”
Swenson said the company also will release an iPhone application in the coming months, and is considering adding iPad, Android and BlackBerry apps.

Ten Free Web Analytics Tools

From Six Divisions (Useful Information for Web Developers and Designers): Web analytics is the process of gathering and analyzing your web content’s data in order to glean meaningful information about how your site is being utilized by your users. There are plenty of Web analytics applications out there, and you probably already know the big guns such as Google Analytics, Crazy Egg, and remote-site services such as Alexa and Compete.

But here are 10 other free tools and applications to help you gather and analyze data about your web content.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Broswer Tool Separates Potential Customers From Surfers

New Scientist Tech reports that a new tool examines the cursor behavior of search-engine users to decide if they are shopping or merely surfing, based on how users react to sponsored results displayed above the non-sponsored ones, which can be annoying for someone who's not shopping, say Eugene Agichtein and Qi Guo at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

People often use cursor moves to help them pick their way through a screen of text, so the pair wondered if these could be analysed to discern if a person was reading the sponsored ad or not, and so infer their intention. They created a Web browser add-on that tracks the cursor, and found that the data could help to distinguish between a "browsing" and "shopping" search session over 96 per cent of the time.

Users often reword their query several times in a search session, so surmising propensity to purchase can help to determine whether or not it is appropriate to display ads in later searches, Agichtein says. "As the session progresses, our system would be able to make increasingly accurate predictions of intent."

The pair will present their study at the SIGIR 2010 conference in Geneva, Switzerland, this month.

Brands, Retaliers Explore iPad Catalogs

Advertising Age reports that Digital publisher Dirxion is working on digital catalogs for the iPad, to be launched next month. Brad Gorman, mobile and iPad manager, said the company has numerous retailers who are "begging to be in the beta test."

"The internet allows for great shopping tools to find the best prices or get reviews, but it's missing the pizzazz -- the reason why we want something in the first place," Brad Spirrison, managing editor of Appolicious told AdAge. "With the iPad, now you can have great content combined with a great pathway to e-commerce all on one device. That's a game-changer."

It's the move closer to the sale that is especially appealing to retailers and brands. Says editor Graham Charlton, "Anything that reduces the friction between a product being seen and acting on it will increase sales."

Numbers booster
Gilt Groupe, an online high-end fashion brand, launched its iPad app at the same time as the device and has seen that come true. The number of user visits increased; the times of the day they visit have diversified; and Gilt has tracked a 25%-plus increase in revenue per user connected directly to its iPad app.

"Our iPhone app helped people transact quickly at noon when they needed to, but the iPad app is different, it's more about sitting and browsing and researching," said Carl Sparks, president and CMO at Gilt. "It was liberating to build something completely new -- throw out the mouse and throw out the keyboard and start over with the way users want to interact with products and images."

Gap, along with agency AKQA, created the Gap 1969 Stream app, a "shopping experience built just for iPad," for Gap's 1969 denim line. It has celebrities, designer tips, music, videos and mix-and-match modeling, all touch and swipe -- and all tagged for one-tap buying.

Brands interested in commerce on the iPad should be willing to design and optimize for the device. "Don't half-ass it out of the gate and give the customer a terrible experience," warned Mr. Grady.

Pottery Barn, for instance, has been criticized by reviewers online and in the app store for its catalog app that doesn't live up visually to its real-world catalog, needing an account to log in to read it, and the inability to buy through the app. notes Ad Adge.

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Coming Analytics Boom

Philip Howard, Research Director for Data Management, Bloor Research, writes in IT Analysis that "Demand for analytics is exploding. Not surprisingly, there is a surge of new products and technologies designed to support that interest. Some of these new products or technologies are at the platform level and others are more in the way of development tools while some have elements of both."

He concludes: "I... expect an explosion of new analytic applications coming onto the market, based on in-database analytics running on a plethora of data warehousing platforms. Just as data warehousing was boring a few years ago before Netezza and its followers came into the market, but has become interesting since, so I expect the market for analytic applications to blossom. SAS has been dominant in this space for a long time. I expect it to remain so but I also expect it to get a lot more competition.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Twitter To Profit From Deal Promotion Program

According to DM News: "As it searches for ways to cash in on its popularity, Twitter is set to become the next e-commerce vehicle.

"The microblogging site has launched @earlybird Exclusive Offers, a program in which Twitter and select advertisers will partner to promote time- and supply-sensitive deals on products and events, such as concert tickets. Twitter users who subscribe to @earlybird will see the offers in their timelines. After a couple of clicks, they could find themselves making a purchase.

"Twitter will earn money through the sales. The move is the latest attempt by Twitter, which until late 2009 appeared to lack a business model, to generate revenue. Other recent attempts have included promoted tweets and trending topics.

“'It seems like a fairly modest early entry,' said Augie Ray, senior analyst at Forrester Research. 'In fact, I'm not even sure I'd call it e-commerce at this point. It seems to be much more positioned as a bit of an advertising play, to be honest. It's a different strategy for them because they haven't been content producers'

"It is unclear when the first deal will be posted. As of July 7, the @earlybird page, which had more than 15,000 followers, included only a link to frequently asked questions about the program.

“'What @earlybird on Twitter does is it gives brands an extra opportunity to reach more eyes, and certainly this @earlybird account will draw plenty of eyes,' Ray said.

"While Twitter says it plans 'to choose exciting deals,' retailers will determine the prices of items and how many will be available.

BoKodes - The Future of Barcoding?

MIT says that their Media Lab has created a new barcoding technology called Bokodes.

The tiny labels are just 3 millimeters across — about the size of the @ symbol on a typical computer keyboard. Yet they can contain far more information than an ordinary barcode: thousands of bits. Currently they require a lens and a built-in LED light source, but future versions could be made reflective, similar to the holographic images now frequently found on credit cards, which would be much cheaper and more unobtrusive.

“We’re trying to make it nearly invisible, but at the same time easy to read with a standard camera, even a mobile phone camera” say the lead author of the paper from Media Lab, postdoc Ankit Mohan. The co-authors, besides Raskar, are graduate student Grace Woo, Shinsaku Hiura (a visiting professor from Osaka University), and postdoc Quinn Smithwick.

Check it out and be sure to watch the video (a bit technical, but worth the effort).

And here's a round-up of what's available today (from the Global Executive Retail Council):

Here's a relevant story on eBay's RedLaser bar code scanning app.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Only 11% of UK Companies PCI Compliant

Market research by Redshift Research on behalf of Tripwire has found that only 11% of UK companies are currently audited and certified as PCI-DSS compliant.

The survey, which sampled 100 retail, financial services, and hospitality businesses, also found that 35% of respondents don't fully understand PCI requirements, and nearly a third don't know if they will be compliant by the Sept. 2010 deadline.

Another key finding was that only 26% of respondents have a dedicated PCI DSS Project Manager. Indeed, 78% say that PCI compliance falls within the remit of IT Security within their organization which adds to an already busy workload for IT security professionals.

Furthermore, only 24% of respondents were completely satisfied with their organization’s ability to alert personnel to unauthorized modification of critical files and maintain file integrity on systems within the scope of PCI; only 44% of respondents were completely satisfied with their organization’s ability to ensure critical systems are properly configured and have the right software patches installed; and only 30% were completely satisfied with their ability to log and track user activities critical to preventing, detecting or minimizing the impact of data compromise.

Small Businesses Lagging

The research study also highlights that smaller businesses are lagging behind larger organizations in terms of PCI readiness. 56% of Level 4 merchants and 36% of Level 3 merchants do not fully understand PCI requirements ; in contrast, only 14% of Level 2 merchants do not fully understand the requirements, while all Level 1 merchants said that they fully understand the requirements. When asked whether they were confident about meeting the September 2010 deadline, 21% of Level 3 merchants said they would not be compliant in time, and a further 25% of Level 3 merchants did not know if they would be compliant in time; 7% of Level 4 merchants said they would not be compliant, and a further 31% said they did not know if they would be compliant. Only 11% of Level 2 merchants were unsure about achieving compliance, while all Level 1 merchants were confident about meeting the deadline.

Comparing the results by industry sector, 57% of retailers admitted that they still do not fully understand PCI requirements [an amazingly high number!], compared to 27% of finance companies and 27% of leisure companies. Twenty percent of finance companies said they would not be compliant by the September 2010 deadline, and a further 20% of finance respondents did not know if they would meet the deadline. Furthermore, 25% of retailers did not know if they would be compliant, while only 9% of leisure companies were unsure about hitting the deadline.

Guy Washer, managing director of Redshift Research, said that 40 per cent of survey requests were refused as he believed that a lot of them were not talking as they were not addressing the issues.

An On-Going Process

Adds Rob Warmack, senior director of international marketing for Tripwire, "One-off PCI DSS certification is not enough. Simple system changes after an audit not only jeopardize PCI compliance but can also create potentially significant security vulnerabilities. We are seeing clear evidence in the marketplace that companies face an ongoing struggle to collage volumes of change and event information across those systems charged with protecting cardholder data and then still maintain compliance between audits. Without automation through continuous monitoring and reporting, the process s both resource-intensive and potentially valueless: why spend months achieving PCI DSS compliance only to slip out of compliance due to a system change within weeks?"

Friday, July 02, 2010

Mobile Commerce Tsunami Is Coming!

Morgan Stanley analysts Mary Meeker, Scott Devitt, and Liang Wu have prepared a very comprehensive and intensive overview (with lots of stats and comparative data) covering the growth of the Internet and the projected growth of Mobile Commerce, concluding that the "rapid ramp" of mobile Internet usage will be a boon to consumers and some nimble companies who will likely win big (potentially very big) while many others will wonder what just happened!

It's definitely worth a look. On a related topic: IKEA takes its product catalog mobile with augmented reality app. The video on IKEA's new app is below:

Here's still more on the subject:

"Adapting to the Rise of the Mobile Shopper" from Global Retail Executive Council on Vimeo.
See also Merchants are Answering Mobile's Call (Multichannel Merchant) and Google Offers Mobile Payment with Chrome Checkout Extension. ("The primary benefit of this approach is that it doesn't have the same security concerns that have delayed the launch of mobile credit card based payment system Square. The actual act of payment, with Google's solution, does not require the swiping of a credit card and keeps the act of payment solely in the hands of the customer.") 

And then there's this: UK customers unhappy with mobile commerce (survey)
See also Smartphone ads: Hitting you where you shop

Plus: Survey Says Few Merchants are Mobile-Savvy (Multichannel Merchant) and
Largest E-Commerce Sites Still Mobile Weak, But Getting Better

But wait! There's more! The National Retail Federation (NRF) has a Mobile Retail Initiative

(and if you want you can download a PDF of the entire 177-page report...or just read the executive summary.
See also The Mobile Choices at Macy's, Best Buy (Storefront Backtalk)
and Largest E-Commerce Sites Still Mobile Weak, But Getting Better

Here's a relevant story on eBay's RedLaser bar code scanning app.
So is this: Study Finds E-tailers Putting Money Into Mobile  

7/19/10 - more mobile news: Silicon Valley venture capitalist Reid Hoffman is betting on consumers continuing their love affair with their mobile phones. Hoffman leads a $15 million investment round in Shopkick, an app developer that is creating tools that will allow retailers to offer mobile coupons when customers check in at their stores. The enhancement "of the retail experience through your mobile phone is guaranteed to be part of the future," said Hoffman, a former PayPal executive. (via

7/19/10 - Mobile speeds up e-commerce capabilities
Mobile capacity, social networks and real-time analytics -- which can help retailers deliver the exact items customers want right now rather than the products they pined for three weeks ago -- will become sought-after tools for fueling the growth of e-commerce, according to experts at a recent Wharton Retail Conference. This piece takes an in-depth look at the factors shaping the future of online retail.

7/29/10 - Amazon’s M-Commerce Sales Top $1 Billion, mCommerce: What You Can Learn From Amazon, and Mobile may be the key to eBay's comeback

8/4/10 -  Strategy and Consistency with Mobile Marketing Pays Off

8/9/10 -  Six reasons retailers need to go mobile (SAS)

8/17/10:  Mobile retail’s major challenges: NRF Tech

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Amazon Acquires

ZippyCart reports that will acquire popular daily discount deal site "Woot has had a loyal underground following, as people flock to the site every morning to see a new deal. As an example, the deal for today at Woot is an Apple iPod Nano 8GB, 5th Generation (Latest Version) for only $99.99 with $5 in shipping.

"Woot is based out of Carrollton, Texas, and founder and CEO Matt Rutledge says that operations will continue as normal from their headquarters. Therefore Woot will be managed completely independent from, but now will have the support of a multi-billion dollar online retail juggernaut.

"In addition to the core site, there are also a variety of other online retail sites that Woot operates. The additional Woot online retail properties include,,, and All sites operate on the same business model, and have a great deal on a particular item each day."

Concludes ZippyCart, "Amazon has been making smart acquisitions over the last couple years, most recently buying for $847 million, and in January 2008 purchasing for $300 million. Sites like Woot and the entire social shopping niche are getting bigger everyday, as new sites jump into the mix and old sites improve their strategy. The acquisition of makes a lot of sense for Amazon, who offers something similar each day via their gold box and lighting deals. However it is still unclear if Woot will get any coverage within the gold box or lighting deals section of Amazon. So far it sounds like this acquisition was just a smart way for Amazon to diversify their online portfolio of properties, with a company who knows how to operate profitably."

The CEO of has a very funny take on the acquisition....
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