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Top 5 Black Friday Websites - Annual Curagami List

Top 5 Black Friday Websites - Annual Curagami List | Design Revolution |

Top 5 Black Friday Websites Curagami's annual list sees Big Boys move in. Amazon tops the list. There are surprises & we share our Black Friday scorecard.

1. Amazon.




Find out how we rated these websites TOPS in Black Friday preparation, free shipping and merchandising:

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Ready For Holiday 2014 Ecommerce? 5 Summer To Dos

Ready For Holiday 2014 Ecommerce? 5 Summer To Dos | Design Revolution |
Martin (Marty) Smith's insight:

Summer = Make or Break
What are you testing this week? Are you testing design, offers, shopping cart or merchandising now? Here are 5 Summer To Dos to help your sales in the 166 days left to Christmas:

Testing Plan
Your testing plan should be FLAT OUT now. Testing after Halloween should be done with great CARE. This means you eat off the "testing meals" you cook now for 3 of the most important months of the year. Here are things we liked to test in the summer:

This year we STRONGLY recommend offering Free Shipping both ways (out and back) and without any hoops to jump through starting about Halloween (i.e. remove your triggers as they start costing you money right around Halloween or at least they did when we tested). We could never get our DM bosses to thing of free shipping as advertising. Shame since we keep placing print ads long after that tactic was dead man walking (now print by itself is crazy).

When you model Free Shipping both ways now remember you need 3x the same customer visits now you will need in November.. In the summer we ran about 3.2 visits before a purchase. After 11.1 that number dropped to 1.5 and by Black Friday it was damn close to a single visit.

2 Offers & Causes
Use that last paragraph to model great offers at this time of year. If an offer lowers the number of return visits needed BOOK IT for November and December since any summer offer should ROCK 4Q (unless the goods are summer related).

We liked to test cause marketing at this time of year. Our demographics were almost even (men to women). Find brand aligned causes and figure out how to help. If you sell auto stuff for trucks you might contribute to Ducks Unlimited for every sale of Chevy parts.

If you sell books contribute to literacy for every bestselling bought in any form (e-book or hardcover). Your cause doesn't have to be so close to your brand especially if you tie-in to the big 5:

American Red Cross
American Cancer Society
Feed Children
Care fore Pets

3 Create & Test Unique Merchandising Combinations
Great time of year to create unique merchandising. Amazon is going to beat any price you have on products with velocity in segments like books, gifts and media. Your only HOPE is to create unique and branding merchandising.

Be sure to create a NEW page and SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) for your new combinations. Link your new combinations from established pages for best sales results. If you've always sold A, B & C offer a new combination of all 3 and give C away free.

Use your metrics to find natural combinations.

4 Free Gifts
If you have Free Shipping both ways and no competitor is following you don't need a free gift. If you can't get free 2 way shipping approved toss in a free gift. Free gifts can't SUCK.

If can't give a gift aligned with your brand and that will delight and surprise DON'T GIVE A FREE GIFT.

5 Social Mentions & Kudos
By far the LEAST expensive idea on this page is LISTEN, THANK and SHARE content your customers share with you. Follow back well more than 50% of your followers cutting out the spammers. You will be amazed how much traction ACKNOWLEDGEMENT creates.

Every follow back and Retweet wins hearts, minds and loyalty best mined NOW for THEN.

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5 Web Design Problems With Faceted Search

5 Web Design Problems With Faceted Search | Design Revolution |

5 Problems With Faceted Search
Faceted search, those data sorting criteria you see on so many websites (on the left in the VW example) creates several web design issues including:

* Infinite Pages that can destroy SEO.
* Too Much Choice.
* Merchandising hierarchy based on attributes and sort.
* Data or engineering presentation that can overwhelm stories.
* Power moves from merchandises and marketers to tech.

Infinite Pages & SEO
Smart move is to robot.txt faceted search pages. Sending thousands of pages without social shares or much content to search spiders in this day and time is not a good idea. Faceted search tends to produce low social value pages when used by itself.

Faceted search can be used in combination with category page copy and social share widgets (highly recommended). Even in combination we suggest prioritizing pages that matter and sharing those with the spider while limit access to the infinite combinations even simple faceted search installs create.

Too Much Choice
Choice is a paradox one of my favorite books (Paradox of Choice by Schwartz) proclaims. Because you CAN do something doesn't mean its the right thing to do. Faceted search without help can quickly become overwhelming. Help can take many forms including:

* Top 10 Lists.
* Best Seller or Most Viewed badges, icons and ribbons.
* Sharing analytics such as people who bought x also buy y.

Cut down choice with feedback loops. Move your analytics closer to the "front" and your design and merchandising becomes less overwhelming.

Faceted search can make a merchandising team lazy. As we discussed in the previous Too Much Choice segment finding ways to curate, combine and merchandising within faceted search results based on analytics, curation and social preference creates collaboration between faceted search and your merchandisers. A website's merchandising team should be one of the most creative a powerful groups Don't let your merchandising team think your site merchandises itself (they never do).

We buy with emotion and justify with logic my P&G boss taught me a lifetime ago. The web is awash in DATA and we have a tendency to "widgetize" the emotionally resonate stories OUT of our websites thanks to tactics such as faceted search. If you use faceted search your team needs to find ways to build emotion IN. Testimonial teases, arresting images and snippets that lead up a ladder to a story are a few of the ways you can add emotion into a faceted search installation.

Power To TECH not PEOPLE
Curagami, our Durham, NC startup, works in an area with many startups. Startups tend to love and focus on the tech they create. We BUY PEOPLE not TECH. We trust PEOPLE not TECH so any faceted search installation needs a strong about page and a sense of who the team is behind the search results or trust is blown and the site riffs itself to itself. Finding ways to tell YOUR story inside a faceted search installation is a CSF (Critical Success Factor).

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