Writing in All Things D, Tricia Duryee quoted a Citi Research report specifically pointing out that: “While mobile and social will likely grab headlines this season, retailers should concentrate on their ‘core technologies,’ namely e-commerce nuts and bolts, and strategies that integrate their traditional stores [with online ordering and in-store pick-up],” That prompted the question of what those nuts and bolts may be. I cannot comment on all the nuts and bolts of an e-commerce operation so I will stick to the more familiar grounds of the e-commerce website. What does “e-commerce nuts and bolts” mean?
- Catalog Navigation This constitutes the various menus generally found on the left side of the page to help visitors look for products or drill down into the various categories or stores. Catalog navigation helps visitors browse for products when they’re not looking for a specific product but simply looking through the catalog hoping to find something interesting.
- Landing Pages These are individual pages that are created for a specific product or group of products. It is well known that separate landing pages with very focused content are the user-facing aspects of any SEO/SEM or Email Marketing campaigns. These are generally backed up by extensive analytics and measurement services to determine various metrics like visitor demography, time on site, conversion rates for those specific campaigns.
- Search A user on the e-commerce site is essentially left with two choices to find products of his/her interests. There is the manual catalog navigation where he browses through products just like he would in a book store, or he could search for a book with the help of a store assistant. Search turns out to be the most natural way to look for things since we associate every product with certain attributes, be they name, color, etc. It is these words that visitors end up using in search for the sake of convenience.
- Recommendation Engines Both catalog landing pages and search are essentially pull-based approaches of fetching products, i.e. the user looks in the appropriate places and only fetches the information that is most relevant for him. At the other end of the spectrum is the need to push products to the user. This is motivated by the need to display combo deals, complementary products, alternatives or substitutes. The aim being to create another window of purchase for the visitor by attracting him or her to products which have been determined to have a higher chance of being purchased.