Top Stories



Keyboards to Corkscrews

January 12th, 2006

Retailers who have tried selling wines next to the canned plums and the greeting cards have grown frustrated. The high-margin beverage is bathed in its own language, leaving non-wine-schooled consumers drunk with confusion.

One retail software company tried to deal with this situation by introducing a kiosk that uses a sophisticated form of 20 Questions to establish the consumer's wine preferences by asking about everything from their coffee, soda and salt preferences to the nature of the occasion. Read more...


Experian Pays $485M for

December 14th, 2005

Betting that price comparison sites will play an increasingly prominent role in e-commerce, credit information vendor Experian was spending almost half a billion dollars to take over

Following on the heels of the June 2005 purchases—just days apart—where E.W. Scripps paid $525 million for Shopzilla and eBay paid $620 million for, Experian's move seemed to continue a trend. Read more...


Don’t Cheat on E-Commerce Search

December 11th, 2005

Trust and credibility—often associated with a brand—are arguably the most powerful assets of any e-commerce site. Without it, the Web is just an electronic version of the Wild West, with the shootouts won by the lowest-price site, until that site is shot down by another low-cost site. Consumers and B2B shoppers purchase from a branded site because they have faith they will be treated fairly and honestly. Read more...


The Myth of the Level Playing Field in E-Commerce

November 6th, 2005

The argument that e-commerce allows price and product quality to trump large marketing budgets has been crushed by, well, large marketing budgets. One of the core beliefs among e-commerce cognoscenti is that the Web serves as the great equalizer, allowing 20-employee retailers to effectively compete with Fortune 100 giants with $100 million ad budgets. Read more...


Tiff over ‘Deceptive’ Search Keywords May Spark Web Crisis

October 24th, 2005

When Office Depot sued Staples over search engine keyword purchases, it touched on more than marketing strategies.

The suit could force the discussion of the ethics of Web advertising tactics, a discussion that many in the industry would rather not have. Read more...

The Fine Line Between Charity and Self-Promotion

September 12th, 2005

The most altruistic gift is an anonymous contribution, in which a giver wants to help but does not want to benefit from the donation. Sometimes, though, anonymity is not possible, and that's where things can get dicey. Read more...

Yahoo Updates Its Small Biz E-Commerce Package

August 27th, 2005

Yahoo Inc. has gone into beta on an enhanced version of its e-commerce hosting service, which is positioned for the small business that can't justify its own Web team nor the time to outsource it to programmers and Web designers. Read more...

More Info May Not Be More Knowledge

July 26th, 2005

In the Information Age that we're in, quality of information trumps quantity every time. And for CIOs, that's good news. But there's a big piece of bad news, too. The flood of information at the command of customers is both good and bad, and many customers—especially consumers—rarely can tell the difference.Read more...

E-Commerce Performance Often Checks Out During Checkout

July 12th, 2005

In analyzing more than 6,500 data points from the top 19 e-commerce sites, a new Keynote Systems report found sites that were too slow, failed too often and often glitched during the crucial checkout period. In analyzing more than 6,500 data points from each of 22 top e-commerce sites, a new Keynote Systems report found that many sites were too slow, failed too often and often glitched during the crucial checkout period. Read more...

Consumers to E-Commerce Sites: Simplify or We Walk

June 29th, 2005

Corporate Web sites are becoming bloated bandwidth hogs, which should surprise absolutely no one in high tech. But a survey is proving that the reckless use of multimedia, animation, JavaScript and other impressive but non-informational offerings is starting to have a negative impact on site traffic. The site visitor's pain from overdesigned or overprogrammed sites—those being two different but equally sinful efforts—is more than mere time-wasting.Read more...

eBay Pushes to Be Everything for Its Sellers

June 26th, 2005

Trying to make eBay as attractive and comprehensive as possible for small businesses that represent a huge portion of eBay's revenue, the auction company is offering to help customers create their own Web sites to complement their eBay presence. Read more...

Auto-Parts Chain Goes Modern, Stays Frugal

June 14th, 2005

Larry Buresh, the CIO of the 1,138-store CSK auto-parts chain, said he knew that his current store technology was out-of-date and not especially competitive, but he also knew that the short-term productivity cost—not to mention the actual dollars and time investment—of a major, enterprisewide upgrade was not practical.

Buresh's answer? Replace all of the hardware, but somehow keep all of the software. That's easier said than done when the to-be-replaced POS (point-of-sale) systems are, "12 years going on 50 years old," Buresh said. Read more...

Wawa CIO: Upgrade Fear Dictated Multimillion-Dollar SAP Purchase

May 20th, 2005

The CIO of the $3 billion Wawa convenience food chain was frustrated that various business units saw business data in different formats—and, consequently, were basing decisions on different numbers. So, he sought bids to consolidate all retail software systems and present a more unified view for the 13,000-employee chain with stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Read more...

E-Commerce’s Tween Years

May 8th, 2005

Little E-Commerce turned 11 years old in 2005 and, like its human counterparts, it was an awkward part of its corporate adolescence. It was no longer the cute little tyke from '95 and '96, with those adorable Web sites selling dog food from around the world, which its corporate parents dutifully placed on their boardroom freezer door. Read more...

Staples’ Web Site: That Wasn’t Easy

March 1st, 2005

Years ago, I was talking with the CEO of a major privately held consumer products company. He casually mentioned that he would never again work for a publicly held company.

Asked why, he said, "For the life of me, I can't think why I would want to publicly air all of our mistakes if I didn't have to." Read more...

A Drive-Thru Supermarket

February 24th, 2005

In the middle of Albuquerque, N.M., sits a 170,000-square-foot chunk of land that is slated to be the site for a new kind of retail store: one where customers can buy a week's worth of groceries without ever having to set foot outside their car.

On paper—and, thus far, that's the only place this grocery store exists—this proposal seems to have plenty to offer both retailers and customers. Read more...

Tower Records Tunes Its Site

February 10th, 2005

Controlling how people listen to a song on a CD is as easy as humming compared with controlling how 70,000 people every day navigate an e-commerce site, executives at Tower Records have discovered. Like every other e-commerce outfit, Tower's Web team makes a long list of assumptions about how people will interact with the site right before launching a new site capability. Those assumptions are often wrong because, among other reasons, the thinking process of a Web developer/designer doesn't always mesh with the thoughts of the site's visitors.Read more...

Amazon Rolls Out Multimedia Yellow Pages

January 26th, 2005

Shoppers wanting to see a store's neighborhood before venturing out into a potentially rundown city street corner will be able to do that by looking into a new interactive Yellow Pages sitefrom

The site—to be housed at the home of Amazon subsidiary—includes data covering more than 14 million businesses.Read more...

Holiday Retail Web Site Performances: Steady but Slow

December 1st, 2004

If the "Max" in Office Max is supposed to refer to the amount of time its e-commerce server takes to respond, it's aptly named. And Target's target is apparently not lightning-fast e-commerce experiences. Those conclusions are courtesy of the latest round of Web traffic analysis from the folks at Keynote Systems. Read more...

Survey: Holiday Customers Value Customer Service Above All

November 24th, 2004

Consumers are looking for black coal to put into their brick-and-mortar retailers' stocking this holiday season, with complaints soaring about bad customer service experiences. But those same consumers are seemingly ecstatic with online customer service. Read more...

Abandoned Shopping Carts May Be Good News

November 13th, 2004

In the first year or two of e-commerce, one sign of sure trouble was seeing a high number of abandoned shopping carts.

I've always loved the term "abandoned shopping carts" because it's one of the rare examples in technology where the term quite accurately—and explicitly—describes what it means to describe. It refers to a customer who starts to shop, puts some items into a virtual shopping cart and then simply goes away before buying anything. Read more...

Site Helps Retailers Tout Local Deals

September 30th, 2004

One problem that retailers have with the World Wide Web is that it's so ... well ... worldwide. A group of newspaper publishers tried to address that issue with the launch of a Web site intended to match consumers looking for specific products with local retailers that have those products on special promotions.Read more...


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