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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : October 26, 2010

How to capitalize on big-ticket ecommerce items

When most retailers think of ecommerce, they think small items: clothing, jewelry, maybe a few books. But there is a trend among consumers to comparison shop for everything online and that includes bigger ticket items such as television sets, furniture or appliances. The problem? Shipping. Most purchasers don't expect a washing machine to be shipped for free and so, even if Brand A has the best price online, they may buy at a higher price from a local store because they fear shipping prices. How can etailers compete with this fear?

by Kristina Knight

blueportcommerce.jpg"We have seen a big shift taking place in the last 12 to 18 months," said Carl Prindle, President and CEO of Blueport Commerce. "A growing number of consumers are more comfortable researching and increasingly buying big-ticket products online...Due to the nature of these purchases and how they are delivered, stores play a critical role in helping to convert and service shoppers."

Blueport Commerce helps these big-ticket retailers set up their online presence, but Prindle warns that a multi-channel approach is the way most big-ticket retailers will thrive in an online setting.

"As a starting point, we build ecommerce platforms that generate localized experiences - matching consumers to our clients' regions or individual stores. This instantly helps to bring that local-store experience online for the customer, which is incredibly powerful for big-ticket purchases. Next, we advise providing accurate, localized product, promotion, delivery and store information, which is critical to walking consumers through their research process and ensuring that the retailer is displaying relevant information for them every step along the way. For example, give customers detailed localized shipping and delivery information on the products they are considering, and ensure store information is readily available should they want to pick up the phone to speak with local sales staff or make an in-store visit. We also encourage our customers to promote in-store offers and coupons online, helping to convert customers or drive them in to the store for more information."

Next, remember the social approach. Prindle suggests that social media profiles, recommendations and links to the actual ecommerce store within social networking sites can help to connect and reconnect with consumers throughout the purchasing funnel.

Finally, national brands don't have to create 15 'local' sites. Instead, the brand needs to be better leveraged within the local marketplace. "With today's available technology...the main site can be easily customized by location to provide all of the necessary local information including the closest brick-and-mortar stores, available inventory, delivery options, promotions and more," said Prindle. "In our experience, the best approach...focuses on building sites that leverage that national brand name while providing localized store and product information."

Tags: big ticket ecommerce, big ticket items, Blueport Commerce, ecommerce, large purchases, online shopping

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