Hot Summer for E-Commerce Upgrades

Major retailers including Victoria's Secret Direct, Aerosoles, Linens 'n Things and Edwards Luggage were among the many retailers announcing upgrades to, or complete re-launches of, their Web sites in both June and July. Web sites with enhanced functionalities are, in fact, a front-of-mind concern for many retailers with over 50 percent of retailers upgrading their Web sites within the next two years, according to the RIS Retail Technology Study. Retailers are embracing the concept of Web 2.0 and working to make their Web sites more interactive, engaging and easier to use. According to the Retail Technology Study, written by Jeff Roster of the Gartner Group, Web 2.0 "is the natural evolution of the Web into next-generation technologies, especially in such areas as logical search and navigation, recommendations based on best sellers or previous purchases, product comparisons and reviews, live chat and social communities."

The most recent announcement of a major e-commerce Web site upgrade comes from Victoria's Secret Direct. The lingerie retailer selected the Platform Innovation Ecosystem, from n2N Commerce, to power its $1.4 billion e-commerce business. The platform incorporates technologies from n2N Commerce, Allurent, ChoiceStream, Demandware and Sterling Commerce and features several Web 2.0 technologies including advanced personalization capabilities. "Victoria's Secret Direct leads its market through continuous business innovation," says Sharen Turney, president and CEO of Victoria's Secret. "Our decision to embrace the n2N platform was strongly influenced by the promise of ongoing technology innovation."

Two retailers choosing to re-launch their Web sites to take advantage of more advanced search and navigation capabilities are Aerosoles and Edwards Luggage. Aerosoles chose to build its new Web site on a platform from Ignify, while Edwards Luggage chose a system from Warp 9. Special features on the new Aerosoles site include advanced shoe imaging and photo manipulation control and specialized search and navigation designed specifically for shoe inventory. The search and navigation engine powering the Edwards Luggage Web site refines customer searches by brand, relevancy rankings and related terms.

Ace Hardware also recently announced an initiative around its Web site. Before committing to large scale changes on its Web site, Ace Hardware is tracking the success of its site to determine what changes to make and which functionalities to add. Ace is using a system from ForeSee Results to measure the satisfaction of Web site visitors at two critical stages: when they are browsing the site and after they have purchases a product. The metrics gleaned from the system help the retailer determine which specific aspects of the online customer experience should be changed to ensure higher satisfaction. "Our Web site is increasingly important to our multi-channel sales strategy, so we're pleased to now have a reliable metric to measure its success," says Mark Lowe, senior interactive market analyst for Ace Hardware.

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