Welcome to Ecommerce Outtakes!

The Ecommerce Outtakes team believes that online shopping can be better, and we’re aiming to improve it, one blog post at a time.  This blog features website reviews by our  ecommerce-savvy authors, showcasing where websites have problems and offering suggestions to make them better. Read our latest posts below!

We know we’re not the only ones who have bad experiences while shopping online. Share yours with us, and we will post them on the blog! The easiest way is to download our free Chrome extension here, and use it to send any websites that drive you crazy directly to our team. 

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What does it take for you to opt in?

Today I have a question for all the readers out there. While I was browsing various ecommerce sites to shop for jeans, I noticed that many e-retailers are using a similar strategy. I’m sure you’ve seen it before. You arrive on a site to shop, and within a matter of seconds, the background dims and a little pop-up appears. Usually, it asks to you to subscribe to an email newsletter to receive some kind of deal or discount, and receive future offers. Do you opt in?

This light box is a really effective tool for brands to grow their email list. Since it pulls the shopper’s attention away from the products and right to that field where they enter their email address, it’s hard to ignore. Plus, offering an incentive like a percentage off their order or free shipping often entices people to sign up. Now, what I noticed while shopping for jeans is the variety in these light box pop-ups. It got me wondering which ones people prefer. Let’s take a look at a few examples. Read More »

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Today’s Top Ecommerce News

When a Winning Tablet Design Flops on Desktop (Get Elastic)
“Do tablet users behave (and convert) similarly to desktop users? Clark’s shoes set out to answer this question by testing its winning tablet design on desktop against its desktop version. The case originally appeared on WhichTestWon (a fantastic resource of A/B tests).”

Google Makes It Easier for Merchants to Migrate to Shopping Campaigns (eCommerce Bytes)
“With regular Product Listing Ad (PLA) campaign types slated to be retired in late August of this year, Google has been encouraging merchant advertisers to shift to Shopping campaigns. Preferably, Google would like to see these transitions happen sooner rather than later with its AdWords customers, and according to one expert, small sellers will benefit from the ease-of-use offered by Shopping campaigns.”

Ecommerce in China: 25+ stats that highlight one big opportunity (eConsultancy)
“And to give an idea of exactly why brands like Burberry, ASOS and Selfridges are hoping to expand East, I’ve rounded up some stats which reveal the scale of the opportunity for online retail in China. This post gives a good foundation for any ecommerce professionals with an interest in the Chinese market, and in future posts I’ll take a look at the major players within the industry, including Alibaba Group, Tencent and Baidu.”

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The Problem with Shopping for DKNY Jeans…

When I visited the DKNY ecommerce site today to shop for jeans, I thought it would be simple. How wrong I was… Take a look at the screenshot below of the women’s jeans category.

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As you can see, there are multiple pages of jeans to click through, but a disappointing number of options to narrow it down. With just a few products per page, I’ll have to do plenty of clicking! Only one sorting menu is offered, with options to sort by price, most popular or newest. Beyond that, the only other thing I can change is the size of the images. What gives?

I would love to be able to filter by fit (such as skinny, boyfriend and bootcut), by color or wash, and by size. This would help me get to the products I want much faster on this ecommerce store. Help a shopper out, DKNY!

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Today’s Top Ecommerce News

Exclusive: Birchbox banks $60 million (Fortune)
“The company has plans to increase its marketing, with potential TV and magazine ads. (“We haven’t talked about what Birchbox is at a high level yet,” Beauchamp says.) It is also considering international expansion, potentially into Canada and countries adjacent to its current operations in France, Spain and the UK. (The challenge there is that international beauty shipments are regulated almost like pharmaceuticals.)”

Amazon is losing its sales-tax advantage (Internet Retailer)
“Amazon collects sales taxes in 20 states, according to the brand new Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, released this week. Research that focused on five of those states—California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia—found that taxing online purchases led to a 9.5% drop in the value of products bought by households from Amazon. Sales tax rates in those states range from 5.0% to 8.2%.”

How to Use Polyvore to Drive Traffic and Sales for Your Online Store (Shopify Blog)
“If you thought you had all your social commerce bases covered, you might be in for a surprise. Launched in 2007, Polyvore has gradually emerged as one of the most effective social platforms for ecommerce sites to drive high-value traffic and sales from. Focusing on fashion and home décor, the community powered social network allows you to create collections and collages called “sets”. These sets can be made up of products from online stores around the web – including your own.”

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Not Collecting Emails is a Missed Opportunity

Last week, I visited an ecommerce site called BedBathStore.com. As the name suggests, they sell a wide variety of products for the bedroom and bath, from accessories to furniture and everything in between. When I began to explore the site, a pop-up appeared on my screen. This little window was advertising a special offer on the site for free shipping that day only. On the one hand, it’s nice that the site shows customers these special deals to make sure they know about the free shipping offer. On the other hand…

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Why wouldn’t BedBathStore.com have included a field for users to enter their email address to receive future offers? In my opinion, this is a huge missed opportunity. Email marketing is very effective for online merchants to increase sales, and growing that email list should always be a priority for any retailer. The fact that this ecommerce site presents a pop-up that immediately catches the shopper’s attention, but doesn’t ask for their email, is a big mistake. They should be collecting email addresses as much as possible! A pop-up is a great method for that.

Do you think BedBathStore.com missed an important marketing opportunity, or do you think the free shipping pop-up was a fine choice the way it was? Interested to hear your thoughts in the comments section!



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Today’s Top Ecommerce News

Pinterest: Dos and Don’ts for Ecommerce Merchants (Practical Ecommerce)
“Many ecommerce business owners make the error of redirecting interested prospects to their home page, rather than the specific landing page where their product can be found. Your link destination should take your viewer to exactly where the product can be viewed and bought. If you save them the trouble of searching for it, you’ll increase your chances of a sale or inquiry.”

Online Merchants Can Adopt Tactics Used by Amazon (eCommerce Bytes)
“Amazon.com’s growth stands out in ecommerce as the company grew beyond its bookselling model into selling virtually any kind of product, and there are things online merchants can do to emulate that success. Amazon works at selling and engages in plenty of tactics to help move product from its warehouses to consumers.”

Why Online Retailers Like Bonobos, Boden, Athleta Mail So Many Catalogs (Business Insider)
“When everything is available for sale on your smartphone, why do catalogs still clutter your mailbox? The old-school marketing format has survived to play a crucial creative role in modern e-commerce. Today, the catalog is bait for customers, like a store window display, and a source of inspiration, the way roaming through store aisles can be. The hope is shoppers will mark pages they like and then head online, or into a store, to buy.”

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Badge of Honor: Calvin Klein’s Denim Fit Guide

Today we’re awarding our coveted Badge of Honor to one very cool feature on the Calvin Klein ecommerce site. Although sites with lots of bells and whistles can often become weighed down and difficult to navigate, sometimes those little extras can make a big difference when they’re done well. With that in mind, it’s time to check out Calvin Klein’s interactive denim fit guide!

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Upon visiting the denim category on the Calvin Klein site, the user’s eye is immediately grabbed by the denim fit guide at the top of the page… Read More »

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Today’s Top Ecommerce News

Gap closes the gap between e-commerce and stores (Internet Retailer)
“The ongoing blurring of the line between stores and ecommerce emerged as one of the main themes this week in Gap’s 2014 investor day presentations to Wall Street analysts. The anticipated moves for the coming year build upon the steps Gap has already taken to further bind its store-, web- and mobile-based retail initiatives, and to continue its ecommerce revenue growth—Gap’s online sales increased 21.5% year over year in fiscal 2013, which ended Feb. 1, 2014.”

Mining Reviews for SEO Benefit (Practical Ecommerce)
“Customer reviews are an excellent way to inject unique content into your site to benefit search engine optimization while boosting shopper confidence at the same time. For SEO, reviews fall under the generally beneficial category of user generated content. Because UGC comes from consumers, it’s written in their language instead of the marketing-speak we tend to let slip into web copy.”

Five ways listening to social data can help your business (eConsultancy)
“If you’re only listening to what people say about you (selective hearing) then you’re only scratching the surface of the value that social data can provide. Knowing what people think of you can be interesting, but as a marketer that will rarely affect how you deliver the campaign in front of you. However, knowing what websites your customers really like, or what videos they shared, or what TV shows they watch is likely to be more valuable.”

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Today’s Top Ecommerce News

Gain Competitive Advantage with Attribution: Predictions from Adobe Summit (Get Elastic)
“In layman’s terms, attribution is determining exactly where people are coming in from (laptop, tablet, mobile, wearable and/or geolocation) and what is bringing them in (social, YouTube, referral, direct, email, organic search) and then using data models or algorithms to detect interesting patterns in engagement and conversion maps.”

Mobile commerce sales are up 101% in Q1 for 350 retailers (Internet Retailer)
“Things are looking up at mobile commerce platform provider Unbound Commerce. According to the Q1 2014 edition of the vendor’s quarterly m-commerce index, which compares Q1 year over year smartphone shopping at more than 350 of Unbound’s retailer clients, sales on smartphones are up 101%, monthly unique visitors on smartphones are up 37%, page views on smartphones are up 56%, average order value on smartphones is up 12%, and conversion rates for shoppers on smartphones are up 29%.”

Alibaba IPO Could Spark E-Commerce Investment Surge (Ecommerce Times)
“Whether Alibaba launches its IPO on April 21 or in the following days, it clearly will be a major event for Wall Street. By any measure, it will be a blockbuster. The company will raise up to US$15 billion in the offering, which would place its value at $200 billion, based on investor community scuttlebutt. These are not unrealistic numbers. The company reportedly posts more revenue and net income than Amazon and eBay combined.”

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Ecommerce Snapshot: Lilly Pulitzer

As I was shopping for dresses on the lovely Lilly Pulitzer ecommerce site, I happened to find an odd little issue. In order to narrow down the selection of party dresses, I opened the “narrow by” menu at the top of the page. There was an option to select my size, and then the options to choose a print or color. But I’m confused. Some of the swatches appear in both the print and color sections. Plus, some of the “prints” are just solid colors, while some of the “colors” are actually prints… What’s going on here?

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I think this ecommerce shop needs to be more clear with their swatches. It’s time to decide which swatches are prints and which are colors, and make sure that each one only appears in one category! This will certainly help to avoid some of the confusion customers may find here.


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