Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Emails Create Urgency with Shipping Deadlines

Sunday I wrote about the need to post clear shipping deadlines on retail websites in my post Make It Easy for Procrastinators. Today my focus in on emails & how they can create urgency for the last minute shopper.

Quick Takeaways:
  • Avon thinks you can tell them twice.
  • HP thinks email subscribers care about shipping deadlines, but their typical web visitors do not.
  • Other samples (to stimulate your ideas) include Illuminations, Eddie Bauer, Pottery Barn and Coldwater Creek.
Yesterday, Avon sent me an email with the subject
It's our LAST DAY of Guaranteed Christmas Delivery + FREE SHIPPING

where they body copy confirms that Monday was the last day. {See email below, click the image to enlarge.}

Then they sent me one this morning with the subject line
LAST CHANCE: We'll Get it There on Time...ends 12/18

HP did a nice email with the subject line
Last Chance to Get Pre-Built HP Desktops by December 24
in the body copy they inform me that I must order by 11 AM PST on Saturday the 22nd. There is also a banner at the bottom telling me "We can get it there!" Clearly the email team at HP thinks this is important information, but if you arrive at the HP website directly, you find a minuscule link at the top called "Holiday policies". If you click, you can get shipping deadline information.

HP Email 12/17/07

HP Website 12/17/07

A couple of other examples of emails with shipping deadline calls to action are

Illuminations 12/17/07
Subject: $5 Express Shipping - Through Wednesday Only!

Eddie Bauer 12/17/07
Free Shipping- guaranteed to arrive by 12/24

Pottery Barn 12/17/07
Last Minute Gift Savings + Holiday Specials

Coldwater Creek 12/18/07
Free Shipping ends TONIGHT! No minimum purchase required
This one combines "order now for free shipping" with "if you are really lazy and want to wait until the last minute, you have up until 12/22"

See also Chad White of the EEC's post
RetailEmail.Blogspot: AM Inbox: Making shipping deadlines clear

Monday, December 17, 2007

Coremetrics & comScore report double digit holiday spending increases

Coremetrics reported today that holiday sales are up double digit percentages compared to 2006. The biggest category increase was department stores, with 37% yoy increase.

Coremetrics eCommerce Progress Report Unwraps Holiday Cheer

This is consistent with comScore's report that spending was up 17% yoy for the first 32 days of the holiday shopping season. See eMarketer article.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Make It Easy for Procrastinators

If you were shopping online this weekend, one of the big questions is "will it arrive on time?" Let's face it. Anyone shopping online this weekend has this at the top of their mind.

It' is amazing How Hard most retailers make this for their customers. I've looked at hundreds of sites that tell you nothing about shipping deadlines on their home page. This week's focus is on those who do try to help procrastinators find their way, quickly.

One of the best is Banana Republic. Important information, easy to find.

Lands' End and Sahalie makes it easy with their "Christmas Countdown".

Other's like Williams-Sonoma are more subtle. See if you can find the the ordering deadline in the image below.

Some like Macy's, put it below the fold. Not something I'd recommend.

And some, like American Eagle and Polo take the teaser approach. You need to click to learn more. Again, not the best user experience for the procrastinator.

Many other sites don't mention ordering deadlines. Others barely do. Like Nordstrom, where it takes two clicks from their free shipping offer to figure out when you need to order by.

The following slide show demonstrates some of the different ways retailers are informing procrastinators. When you watch the sites go by, play this game: how long does it take for you to spot the shipping deadline information? Clearly some sites are much better than others.

Monday, December 10, 2007

This Week In Etail 2007-12-08 - "Free-r" Shipping

A couple of sites upped the ante this week in the free shipping.

Steve Madden was at a $50 threshold last week, now they have no threshold.

Steve Madden 12-08-07

Steve Madden 12-01-07

Kenneth Cole introduced free shipping this week, with a $50 threshold.

The rest of the sites listed in the "This Week In Etail 2007-12-01" post, kept the same free shipping criteria.

For a look at 131 of the biggest internet retailers this week, see the slide show below.

{Click on the slides to view all sites as thumbnails}

Survey's During Checkout

How many people do survey's during checkout?

For the retailers that do, I think I generally ignore them as fairly bland attempts at satisfactions surveys.

I found this example refreshing. Clearly focused on the product and mission of the company. I'd also note that the way they do it takes more guts. They presented this survey DURING my order process, not after it was complete. Not sure I'm 100% on board with that approach, but I did find it different.

Personalized Shipping Options

Why don't more sites TELL YOU when your order will arrive?

Sure you can click to a site's shipping policy, and do the math in your head. But isn't that what computers are good for? Rote calculations?

Their instructions are clear. Chose this option, get it this day. That's all you need to do. Not only is this good service, but I imagine that they are often more successful upselling. They tell me in the header how much more I need to spend for free shipping. And if I want it faster, exactly when I will get it at what price.

Contrast that with a company FAMOUS for service - Nordstrom. They make very little attempt to tell you when the order will arrive, nor do they try very hard to sell you on increasing your order to get free shipping. You Need to click the "Shipping Methods and Charges" link

after which you get the shipping dictionary, so you can figure it out for yourself.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

This Week In Etail 2007-12-01 - Free Shipping

Out of 49 apparel sites, 21 had some form of prominent free shipping offer on the home page.

Here's a slide show of the websites on 12/1/07.

Click here to
View Slide Show as Full Screen

Here were the various thresholds

$0 for
LL Bean
White House Black Market

New York and Company

Easy Spirit - for email subscribers only
Nine West
Steve Madden

Ann Taylor Loft
Gap (4 brands. But not Banana Republic or Old Navy)
Bare Necessities

Liz Claiborne


Ralph Lauren

Brooks Brothers

Department Stores
The 17 department stores shown below were more likely to have free shipping.

Specialty Retailers

Cyber Monday

Chief marketing officers at leading U.S. retailers estimate that sales on "Black Friday" (November 23 this year) will account for 15 percent of their total holiday revenue in 2007. (See story in MarketingVox.)

I was curious to see how many retailers actually used the term "Cyber Monday" on their websites. Of 141 that I checked, only these eight had "Cyber Monday Sales"

Disney Shopping

Best Buy





Brylane Home

Here's the 141 sites I reviewed as a slide show.

{Click to slide show to view at different speed or as thumbnails.}

For the shopper in you, there is CyberMonday.com from the folks at shop.org.

For some of the history of Cyber Monday see Seth Godin's post
Black, not meatball, mondae
and also his note from Brett at Google that this is NOT the biggest day for online retailers
Christmas shopping

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Victoria's Secret Closed on Cyber Monday?

Looks like Victoria's Secret "opened late" on Cyber Monday. Here's a screenshot of their home page as of 6 AM Eastern Time on Cyber Monday. I looked at hundreds of other retail sites. All the rest were open.

Why do maintenance on the busiest day of the year?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday - 2007

115 of the largest internet retailer's home page on Black Friday - 11/23/2007.

The Black Friday sites really took off this week. Here's the traffic to Gottadeal's Black Friday site.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Black Friday - 2006

Here's a look back at some of the top retail sites from Black Friday 2006. (Actually it's Saturday 11/24/06. The whole web was so slow on Friday last year I couldn't stand it.)

{Click the slide show to see full images.}

So that's the past. If you want to look at the future - what's on sale this coming Friday check out the following sites:


According to Hitwise, 3.66% of traffic to walmart.com on Black Friday came from these sites. See chart below

A brief history of Black Friday can be found

Wikipedia or About.com

Monday, November 19, 2007

This Week In Etail 2007-11-17

78 of the top internet retailing websites as of 11/17/2007.

{Click slide show to view all as thumbnails or full image.}

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Christmas IS Coming

I liked the quote in this week's Fortune (11/12/2007) from Gerald Storch, CEO of Toys "R" Us.

"I'm not an economist, but I can tell you that Christmas will come."

He goes on to talk about how parents by toys for their kids in good years and in bad. As well as details on the China related recalls.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

This Week In Etail 2007-11-10

Here's another set of weekly home pages for your enjoyment. Lot's you can observe. This week a quick takeaway on email sign ups. Of the twenty sites you can view here

{View slide show in the blog, or click the photo to expand.}

Only 4 of the 20 had an email sign up above the fold (for a 1024 x 768 browser).
Disney Shopping
Banana Republic
Boston Proper

A list of those who did not:
Gap brands
Coldwater Creek
JC Penney's
Circuit City
Best Buy
The Popcorn Factory

A Look Back at Banana Republic

Click on the album below to view the Banana Republic home page as it has appeared every week from December 2, 2006 through November 3, 2007.

{Click the slide show above to view individual images full screen.}

A couple items of note:

Free shipping went through several incarnations. From $125 threshold until 3/17/07 when it went up to $175. After a couple weeks of experimenting it settled on $6 shipping everyday (starting 4/7/07). On occasion BR now offers lower thresholds for free shipping (for example on 9/15/07 when it had a $50 threshold for BR card members).

Email sign-up was below the fold until 7/28/07. It has been above the fold ever since.

Find other interesting items? Add them to the blog comments!

Piperlime Introduces "Loyalty Program"

Piperlime introduced "Piperlime Perks" which sounds like a new loyalty program, but is really a set of customer guarantees to stay competitive with Zappos. They do extend the traditional Gap Inc. credit card benefits to the Piperlime brand.

This week's website promotes the new program.

{Click on any image to view it larger.}

The pop up for the perks shows the benefits as

That makes them competitive with Zappos from LAST year. Here's the Zappo's home page November 11, 2006.

Free shipping both ways plus a 110% price guarantee.

So now Piperlime has nearly the same policy on shipping and price, plus has their affinity card benefits.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

This Week In Etail 11/03/07

Here a couple sites from the archive for the week of November 3, 2007.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tips on Viewing Images of Websites

How to "See More" than what is in the blog posts.

If you'd like to see more than the small images in the slide show, then click on the slide show and that will take you to Picasa. Once on Picasa you can

1. View full size images, and click the left and right arrow to navigate. (Picasa top header.)
2. Download the image to your computer using the "download photo" link. (Picasa column to right of image.)
3. View all of the websites on a single page (thumbnails) by clicking the "View Album" link. (Picasa top header.)

For example, see screenshot below.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Tracking and Archiving Retail Websites

I'm in the process of tracking a lot of retailer websites, and am using this blog to share a few slide shows, and occasional observations. Feel free to comment on both text and visuals.

The slide show below shows 92 of the top retail websites, as they appeared on 10/27/2007. The screenshot is a 1024 x 768 resolution. You can click on the slide show to view larger versions.

Check out how aggressive Steve Madden is about capturing email addresses.

They are offering 15% off your next order for joining their list. There's a deadline to create a sense of urgency.

This particular offer is an extension. Initially they offered 20%, with a deadline of September 30th.