Tag: Ecommerce

Amazon launches TextBuyIt Service via SMS On A Cell Phone

amazontextbuyit.jpg

Standing in a Barnes & Noble, flipping through a book you are considering to purchase, you can now pull out your cell phone, write a txt a message to 262966 (Amazon on a phone pad) that contains the ISDN, UPC code, or name of the book and Amazon will reply back with the price of the book and an offer to buy it.    The book could now be 20-40% cheaper if you are willing to wait a couple days for shipping. 

The next versions are sure to include being able to take a picture of the UPC with your phone camera, send that up and receive your price and availability of the product. 

 This time next year, it will be interesting to know what percentage of retail store sales are pre-scanned at Amazon before purchase. 

 Also consider the possibilities of advertising.  While walking through the airport, an advertisement panel on the wall shows the latest Iacocca leadership book and at the bottom it gives you the Amazon SMS # and a short code for the product.  In two minutes you’ve purchased the book. 

About six months ago we designed a similar addon module for Blue Martini Commerce that would allow this type of sms commerce.  It fell in the priority list as being a little too far out there from a consumer adoption standpoint.  Looks like we will need to reconsider. 


Data Visualization: Top 500+ Ecommerce Sites by Sub-Vertical with Google Page Rank

I’ve been playing around with the data visualization tools at IBM’s Many Eye’s project and came up with a visualization in a treeview that shows the top 500+ ecommerce sites split by category of retailer with google page rank.  It’s an interesting way to look at the data as you quickly see that apparel & accessories dominates number of retailers in the top 500.  Following the apparel category is Specialty/Non-Apparel, Housewares, and Computers/Electronics. 

 An alternative interesting view can be see by dragging the retail vertical to the position between google page range and site.  This will group everything by page rank showing that there’s only 4 retailers with a GPR of 9. 

Update: I’ve moved the visualization to after the click as it was too much on the homepage. (continue reading…)


Free report on designing websites for users with disabilities

While surfing I came across Beyond Alt Text:  Making the Web Easy to Use for Users With Disabilitiesfrom the Nielsen Norman Group.   It’s normally $124, but they are giving it away for free for the holidays.   Accessibility design has become increasingly important over the last few years with ecommerce websites due to rulings in the courts that sites such as Target.com must be accessible.   

 It’s a good time in the year to look at your site and determine if you are compliant. 


Mashup App for Tracking Top Ecommerce Sites for Design Analysis & Best Practices

I haven’t been writing much over the past couple weeks because I’ve been focused on developing a new mashup app that will track the top 500+ ecommerce sites on the web.    Trying to keep up with what the top companies are doing is always a difficult and time consuming task so I decided to pull information together in one place.   I’ve written a few spiders as well as some mashup code with Compete, ZoomInfo, and Google API’s to build a dossier on each of the best sites. 

Please check out The Top Ecommerce Sites and let me know what you think. 

Currently I’m tracking on each site:

  • Snapshots of the home page
  • Google Page Rank
  • Backlinks from major search engines
  • Traffic via Compete
  • Company data from ZoomInfo
  • Types of technology used and sizes (i.e. html, images, flash, javascript)
  • User submitted comments and reviews
  • 1-5 Star ratings submitted by users
  • References in the Blogosphere
  • Google News

(continue reading…)


Store Search – Google Custom Search Engine

I just created a Google Custom Search Engine for searching the top retail ecommerce sites on the net.  Hopefully this will be useful in finding that special gift with the holidays coming up.  I added it to the navigation bar up top. 

Personally, I’m having fun looking at the search results that google is providing.  It’s interesting to look at the various ecommerce sites and their SEO optimization as it is clearly coming into play here.  When you take out the millions of other pages google would have included in the mix, you can start to compare multiple retailers and how they’ve been optimized for organic search.

I’ll have the top ~ 500  ecommerce retail websites in the search engine by Tuesday or so.  I’m currently up to 128 for testing purposes.  The top 500+ ecommerce sites in the US are currently in the search engine which should give a wide array of stores to search.   Over time I’ll add & subtract from the overall list to improve the searching.

I have another search engine in the works for retail industry research.  It should be done in the next week or so. 

If you try it out, please send me an email or leave a comment on how well it works for you.  I’m still trying to tweak it. 


Barnes & Noble Refreshes Site

bncom refresh

Barnes & Noble refreshed their website recently and some of the additions are useful but overall falls short.    When you reach the refreshed site, a 1/3 of the page is dedicated to B&N picks presented in a scrolling flash window.  Unfortunately, you are only given a pause button instead of back/forward/skip a page controls.  This leads to problems when you are interested in an item and you don’t get your mouse up to it quick enough, it’s off the page and you have to wait for a full rotation to get back to it.   It’s also dissappointing that in 2007 the picks are selections chosen by BN without any regard to who I am.  (continue reading…)


Tech & Business at Amazon.com

I’ve been sick this past week so I haven’t been up to posting much, but I did find these two articles that are definitely worth sharing. 

 Werner Vogel’s(CTO of Amazon.com) attached an architecture paper on his blog All Things Distributed.  The paper covers the architecture in place for Amazon’s distributed storage system. 

If storage system architecture for extremely scalable ecommerce sites is not your thing, I saw that Harvard Business Review conducted an interview with Jeff Bezo’s(CEO of Amazon.com).   The interview focuses on strategy and how it’s formulated at Amazon.  The graphic on page 2 showing the product line expansion, feature inclusion and sales revenue is great review of the company looking back. 

Both are definitely worth the read. 


Stores Magazine – Consumer Top 50 Ecommerce Sites

Update:  Recently we released our Top 500 Ecommerce sites which can be looked at from different angles like pagerank, traffic, backlinks, public companies, etc. 

NRF Stores magazine releases a chart with the top 50 ecommerce sites voted on by consumers.

Top 50 Article   Top 50 Chart


Microsoft Silverlight in Retail RIA

Yesterday I attended the JeffNJoe MSDN .NET Tiki Hut Roadshow in Palm Beach.   Jeff and Joe presented Expression Web, Silverlight 1.0 and 1.1, and a mash-up using Virtual Earth.   By far, the most interesting topic was Silverlight, Microsoft’s new Rich Internet Application(RIA) cross browser, cross platform plug-in.  The 1.0 version available now, definitely looks and feels like Adobe Flash, however it has much improved video playback functionality including High Definition playback.  Beyond the use for video, I wouldn’t seriously consider using it for RIA applications on a major ecommerce site because of limitations to available controls, development language availability, and that it’s a 1.0 environment.   Beyond those issues, pervasive adoption of the plug-in is not there yet.  If you decided to utilize Silverlight, your site will probably be the first one that a consumer would be exposed to it, therefore they will have to download the 1.1 meg plug-in and go through the installation, even though Microsoft has made it very seamless and easy to do.

The 1.1 version of Silverlight due out sometime next year on the other hand shows a lot of promise.  Beyond the capabilities existing in 1.0, it is also expected to include support for many controls such as button, textbox, scrollbar, listbox, and checkbox which will bring the basic abilities up to the bare basics compared with Adobe Flex.  You’ll also see support for additional language support beyond javascript including C#, VB.Net, Python, and Ruby.

Three of the most interesting demo’s shown that retailers can relate to were live streaming video of the HSN channel, Silverlight Airlines travel booking, and a prototype  for viewing different home goods and furniture items in a room.  (continue reading…)


Borders Beta Ecommerce Site Up – Not Quite Baked

Borders Beta PageAfter the much talked about change of Borders using Amazon.com to host their site, Borders releases their new beta site.   At first glance the site has a nice design. 

The first thing I noticed was the “Magic  Book Shelf” and immediately got my hopes up for something really cool and useful.  Unfortunately, it’s a Flash object consisting of a static set of books, movies, and music that scrolls through 2-3 pages of 5 books per page.  There was no way of going deeper beyond the initial set of chosen books and navigation is unintuitive to say the least.  I kept trying to drag the focus on the bookshelf to other areas with no effect and found that only selecting the listed menu items on the right had any affect.   It does have a “picked for you” feature once you sign in.  I found the feature to be unhelpful in discovering new books, but hopefully that’s because I don’t have a large purchase history for them to mine from and it will improve with time. 

borders_beta_facetnav.jpgThe site sports a faceted search navigation menu on the left.  Although I was surprised to not find facets for a couple common categories in the fiction section like mystery or true crime.   Also listing the number of books besides the facet is a bit scary with 6293 Action & Adventure books yet only a 122 “Classics”.   I found that when clicking on the Action section, I could only drill down further by format, special features(Abridged, Annotated, Large Print, etc.), price and Best Sellers.  

(continue reading…)


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