Tag Archives: e-commerce

New Comet website dabbles in publishing

Comet's beta site ramps up content production

Comet's beta site ramps up content production

Comet’s released its beta e-commerce site. Why is it this interesting? Well, they appear to be doing a bit of a ‘Which?’ magazine and become a content producer in their own right. A large part of the site is dedicated to a ‘Knowledge centre’ of articles which looks like an attempt to help their core audience navigate their way around increasingly hi-tech (and increasingly confusing) consumer goods.

You’ll be pleased to hear they’ve resisted the urge to include a carousel of washing machine products on their homepage. Well, nearly. Alas, there are still no prominent Amazon-like ‘warts and all’ product reviews, which would have been brave but brilliant. Instead they’ve teamed up with independent reviews site reevoo, which I can only guess they’ve done to avoid any flack from its suppliers. But how will this work exactly? Will Comet select which reviews to show from this third-party site? How would customers react if not all positive AND negative reviews were shown?

Take a look at the Comet beta site: http://www.comet.co.uk/shopcomet/betahomePage.do?zone_id=13

Mixmag print mag doing well – by keeping it real niche

The Guardian reports that DJ bible Mixmag is doing well (40k circulation) after going back to its pre-EMAP strategy of being a genuinely valuable resource for DJs. No more dancing girls in fluffy bras, it says. The site also supports the print mag in allowing readers to download around 90 per cent of the music covered in print.

Would you ever visit a retailer’s web zine? Like, a second time?

Jeanswear brand Levi’s had moderate success with Antidote, its customer publishing website and print magazine.

Such successes explain why fashion labels and retailers continue to use customer publishing – an example being Topman’s TOPMANZINE (for the love of god).

The question of what value customer publishing provides to who is way too old (and dull) a debate to have here. But the fact remains, the web now offers new opportunities for brands to develop a destination – and one which isn’t limited to broadcast / top down magazine content.

Ben Sherman’s content aggregation model is a good example of how fashion brands are providing customers with genuinely valuable offers beyond the usual ‘read this edgy article and please buy the t-shirt we mention’ approach. It’s about going beyond TOPMANZINE’s useful ‘Trends’ features. Fashion tips provide genuine value to the customer, but the site as a whole doesn’t go far enough.

Ocado drivers deliver irony as well as online groceries

This is a real email from Ocado. Considering all their PR about how they recycle their plastic bags, we thought this email was a tad amusing.

As Juliet, our eagle eyed Ocado customer confided, they obviously felt their carbon footprint has been reduced so much that they wanted to give it a little boost again.

How to market a website: Your options, by a Forrester analyst

Need to know how to market your website but don’t know where to begin?

Read on for a comprehensive list of pretty much every (well, nearly) current type of online marketing approach available to you as a marketer.

The list includes: social ads, widget ads, SEO, SEM, invasive marketing, syndication, online massive multiplayer gaming advertising, mobile…the list goes on.

The content post appears on a blog by Jeremiah Owyang, a web strategist / senior analyst at media specialist Forrester Research.

PS. check out the post by Linda Zimmer who suggests adding some ‘pull’ marketing to this list of mainly ‘push’ executions.

UK Recession: a boost for price comparison websites?

Another day, another price comparison website goes up for sale.
Well, nearly. Credit checking firm Experian is said to be open to approaches as part of a review of PriceGrabber and its role in the business. It acquired Pricegrabber in 2005 for around £225m, before Experian was demerged from GUS plc, the owner of the also demerged Argos chain.
Forbes.com reports that a person close to the company said PriceGrabber is a strong division with growing profits and revenues and, therefore, Experian will either sell it at a good price or not at all.

The news comes at a time of increased activity in the price comparison market – not always for positive reasons. It looks like feast or famine for site owners, depending on when you got in and what sector you’re targeting.

The utilities comparison market, for example, is pretty much overcrowded. Daily Mail and General Trust revealed it was looking to close its SimplySwitch website in February 2008, 18 months after acquiring the business for £22 million. The Guardian put the move down to performance targets, after an unexpected fall in the energy price comparison market.

But it’s not all gloom and doom for financial and retail comparison sites. Last year Tesco joined forces with Royal Bank of Scotland to launch a joint venture called TescoCompare.com. FT.com reported that Yahoo was reviewing its Kelkoo comparison site in October 2007, three years after paying $575 million for it.

Expect more news from this sector soon wethinks.
PriceGrabber is in the news for another reason today – vnunet.com quotes PriceGrabber’s Consumer Behaviour Report and how the HD DVD ‘format war’ is holding back DVD sales while people wait for a winner. Is it true that Toshiba has finally given up the ghost? What fate now awaits the millions of Xbox 360 owners?

Martha Lane Fox joins Marks & Spencer – a story

Congratulations to lastminute.com’s founder Martha Lane Fox and her appointment as non executive director on the board of Marks & Spencer. Her experience will be invaluable to the retailer’s online strategy going forward.

Her committment to her work is to be admired. I recall one journalist telling me that while cutting his teeth at new media magazine Revolution he was given a high profile assignment to interview both lastminute.com founders Brent Hoberman and Martha. Arranging an interview was difficult as both were working flat out for the move to IPO. It transpired that the only time they were available to chat was on a Sunday afternoon. Despite the timing and their huge workloads, both founders spent over an hour – each – in taking the then nervous and bumbling rookie journalist through lastminute.com’s complete history and future strategy in minute detail.

The IPO turned into a fiasco, but they were absolutely driven in their passion for new media and the potential of their business. Professionals to the end.

HMV bet on social networking to improve revenues

HMV is looking to explore social networking to boost digital revenues.
Its digital downloads store / business has been going for ages, but it looks like more is planned.

But will social networking work as a new channel for HMV? I’d be surprised if something branded is launched. Anything that remotely smells of a commerical exercise will turn off users, so will any obvious or overbearing content dedicated to partnerships or advertising (HMV’s said to have set up content partnerships with Universal Music and 20th Century Fox).

Video gaming and music are staple themes for online communities, but will a commercial entity with an obvious interest in selling its wares really be able to develop a community? The blogosphere has well documented the challenge now facing MySpace and YouTube in monetising user generated content.

That said, I can’t wait to see how it’s pitched. Will it be HMV branded or a standalone entity which avoids tainting its appeal with overly commercial content?