E-Commerce Link: Humanizing the Web
In addition to soliciting on-site contributions from shoppers, merchants also can take advantage of their customers' collective input in ways that are more implicit by tailoring the site experience to match their input. New technologies that leverage customer contributions include: 1) Social navigation: Customers' site search keywords and review text determine site navigation; 2) Social search: Customers can see what search terms others used to find items similar to keywords they've entered; and 3) Social merchandising: Shoppers see products using logic such as "Others who viewed this product also bought ..." or "Customers who bought this product also bought ..."
Using these tools, merchants can leverage customer behavior to give shoppers the most relevant experience, guiding them to categories and products in ways that make sense to real people with similar needs.
As transactional capabilities and best practices become commonplace, online retailers must focus on new ways to create a competitive advantage. By allowing customers to interact with each other, share ideas, and rate products and services, online retailers will offer them a more compelling experience and, in the end, reap the benefits of increased sales.
Ken Burke is founder and CEO of MarketLive, an e-commerce technology services provider based in Petaluma, Calif. He can be reached at email@example.com, or visit www.marketlive.com/sitereview.