The History of eCommerce

What year did Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web get renamed Yahoo?
When did eBay acquires PayPal?
When did Wal-Mart introduce a buy online/pick up in store program?
And when did post a first net profit, proving pure-plays can play?

Mmmm.  It’s time to review “The History of eCommerce” (Courtesy of Internet Retailer US)

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eCommerce accessibility and the UK’s leading high street retailers

It is great news to hear that eCommerce Accessibility is being taken in an increasingly serious way by the UK’s leading high street retailers. Webcredible’s 2009 eCommerce Accessibility Report evaluates the accessibility of retailers’ websites and based on their own definition of accessibility it broadly suggests that many retailers have made progress in the accessibility of their websites in the past 24 months.
The 29 page report evaluates 19 websites and measures retailers against 20 cleverly devised essential web guidelines that all ecommerce websites should adhere to.  It is particularly satisfying to see two Salmon clients appearing at the top of the league table!  Boots and Argos appear second and third respectively.
The guidelines cover the following areas;

Text is resizable and remains legible when resized
Descriptive page titles used


Information images have useful ALT text
Decorative images have null ALT text & aren’t links by themselves
Text isn’t embedded within images

Headings are correctly labelled as headings
All sections of the page have their own heading
Headings stand out from regular text

Link text makes sense out of context and is front-loaded
A focus state is provided for links
Links use a high contrast colour
Links employs the widest possible area

HTML code
All lists labelled as lists
Skip to main content link provided
Decorative items not inserted through HTML code
CSS used for layout

Form label present and correctly positioned
Labels assigned to form items
Form items don’t cause auto-refresh
Forms effectively designed

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Argos – Online Retailer of the Year


Long term Salmon customer, Argos, last night scooped the coveted Retail Week “Online Retailer of the Year” award.

Argos has often led the pack with its integrated multichannel retail approach and last year was no different.

The judges were impressed by a sophisticated business model which makes finding and buying products as easy as possible for the customer. Over the last year the addition of customer reviews, richer content and post-code specific stock availability checks are just some of the improvements that have been made. The retailer’s maxim has been: “If something doesn’t enhance the customer experience of shopping with Argos, it doesn’t get in.”
The judges said Argos’s online operation represents “a whole different level of experience.”

Argos’s online performance speaks for itself. At Christmas, Argos’s internet sales reached more than £500 million to account for 30 per cent of total sales.

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What does Web 2.0 mean to Retailers?

So what does Web 2.0 mean to Retailers?

Well the term ‘Web 2.0’ means very little.  But what Web 2.0 enables is having significant bearing on retail in 2009 and beyond.   Inventory management, store systems, logistics and CRM will all be affected in one way or another. And in eCommerce, it is already having an impact.

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The Route to Scalable eCommerce

Salmon presented this morning, at a session hosted by Google and sponsored by Rackspace, entitled “The Route to Scalable eCommerce.” It was a best practices seminar on how to build a secure, scalable online business.

As the event was oversubscribed, here is a copy of the presentation to review.  Enjoy.

Any questions do please contact me.  I’d love to hear from you.

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Twitter use in Retail

As Twitter becomes more popular – and continues its shift from the (lunatic) fringe to mainstream, it is interesting to be able to take a sneak peak into several retail Twitter accounts in action. Visit No Turn on Red’s Retailer Twitter Aggregator (screen grab below) for a real-time perspective.

twitter-use in-retail

This resource displays on one page, a glance of some of the retailers who are using Twitter to connect with their customers.   Take a look at the conversations that they are having, the sales information they are posting, and the helpful advice they are sharing.  Useful?  Worrying that you might be missing out?

There is no doubt Twitter use in retail is growing fast.  e-consultancy just published a list of UK Retailers with Twitter accounts.  The names are surprising – and the list is growing fast (look at the comments!).   EDIT 13/03/09: e-consultancy Just added a list of US Retailers on Twitter.

The Retailer Twitter Aggregation is maintained by Tom Sullivan of No Turn On Red. You should contact him on Twitter (@noturnonred) with any feedback.  Needless to say I am on Twitter too (@chrishoskin).  My advise is for you to join in the conversation.

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A Changed World – 6 Key Issues for insurers to consider


The world has changed.  The second half of 2008 saw events that previously would not have entered our wildest dreams. Who would have thought that one of the UK’s largest banks would pass into state ownership? Who would have thought that one of the longest periods of uninterrupted economic growth would stop dead in its tracks?

With this in mind, employees at Salmon recently put their heads together to author a manifesto (in 6 parts)  for Directors and Managers of Insurance companies, who have a responsibility for eCommerce and eBusiness.   Part 1 is available now as a downloadable .pdf, and considers “Will your Customers Change?”

It is our belief that at least six key issues need to be considered by insurers right now.  We will explore each in full in due course so register here to get each part of the manifesto emailed to you.

Here are the issues as we see them.  What do you think?

  • Issue #1:  Will your Customers Change? Even counter-cyclical industries, like general insurance, need to carefully consider this question.  After all, any business is only as stable as its customer base.  As we shall see, answering this question is not straightforward.  There are indications that we will have to think about meeting at least three shifts in customer demand and buying behaviour.
  • Issue #2:  Flexing our Cost Base Reducing operational costs has been a major component of most organisations’ plans over the last decade but there are new challenges.  Firstly, living through an economic downturn means that we have to rethink the minimum critical size of our operations.  Secondly, economic, political and social pressures may mean that we have to revisit past strategies based on outsourcing and offshoring.  These now established recipes might not serve us too well in the coming years.
  • Issue #3:  New Channel Relationships Emerging evidence points us to the fact that customers’ buying criteria – how they make purchasing decisions – may be changing both in commercial and consumer markets.  This means that current web based distribution will have to change if it is to deliver real value for both customers and suppliers.
  • Issue #4:  How to Unlock Markets Extending the reach of offerings into new markets is a commonly cited piece of advice for organisations facing an economic downturn.  A better and more astute move is to unlock markets that traditionally minded competitors think are either unprofitable or can only be served in one time established way.  To keep ahead of the game we have to consider how technology can act as a key to redefining markets that others pass by.
  • Issue #5:  Regulation – The Tool of Change:   There is no doubt that the current downturn will produce a globally co-ordinated push for new regulatory approaches to prevent another financial crisis.  November 2008’s first meeting of the G20 – the countries that will reshape the business world – put regulation right at the top of its global action plan.  All we know now is that the regulatory demands on organisations – especially in the financial services sector – will change.  The impact could range from more disclosure regarding investments, through to increased customer education and new roles for directors.  The demand for information will increase and new co-ordination and control systems will be needed.
  • Issue #6:  Information for Tough Times:  Research tells us that organisations that survived the last real downturn – in the early 1990s – managed their businesses in a totally different way to those that failed and disappeared.  Those that succeeded were closer to their customers and used a far broader range of management information than did the failures.  These winners were better at getting and using customer and market information.  So, systems for decision making have to go way beyond traditional financially based approaches if our businesses are to survive and grow in the current environment.

There is no doubt, rather than entrenchment, this is a time for innovation in how business processes and systems really deliver value. I hope you like the manifestos.  Please feel free to share and re-use.

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