|EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2628 - September 12, 2011 - ISSN 1539-5065 1 of 6|
Online marketplace Bonanza has added international support with multiple languages and currencies and has rolled out a new design with a customizable homepage. And, in a major shift in strategy, it also announced it would no longer create category-specific sites such as its Bags Bonanza website.
In a blog post, founder Bill Harding introduced the changes and said, "Simply put, what our home page had in aesthetic, it lacked in focus & relevance." Rather than showing only hand picked lists, visitors to the home page can now see new items, featured sellers, or published coupons in the categories in which they've indicated an interest.
At the top of each page is a navigation bar featuring a search box and three main categories - For Her, For Him, and For Everyone. This is proving to be a controversial change, as some categories are excluded from the pull-down menus when clicking on one of the three options. For example, visitors looking for books would not find them in the drop down menu when mousing over For Her, For Him, or For Everyone - they would have to click on All Categories to be brought to another page in order to select books.
Bonanza removed the "Buy" page link in an effort to make it more conducive to shopping. Harding explained, "When designed correctly, we believe that all paths should lead toward discovering the exact item you want to buy; in this light, it doesn't make sense to have a single page labeled "Buy," when that is really the soul of the whole site."
Most of the home page is taken up with a slideshow feature that includes categories such as "Carefree bohemian" and "Hand-picked lists." Underneath the slideshow feature is a list of categories.
In order to personalize the home page, visitors can click on the "Update home page options" link and select the categories in which they are interested. Doing so will update the homepage slides to display new arrivals, featured sellers and "fresh deals" slides in the categories selected.
There is also another opportunity to personalize the shopping experience - at the bottom of product listings, there is messaging that asks shoppers to select their gender. They have an option to skip the question and move on to the next question. The series of questions are designed to map "people to people," as Bonanza explained last month. Shoppers who take the personalization quiz are matched with other users they are most similar to; Bonanza believes that by considering what items those people have shown an interest in, it can then guide them toward the items they believe will match their personal tastes.
Bonanza also removed the link to the Bags Bonanza website and said it would no longer build separate sites that cater to a particular category. It will allow the Bags site to continue operating independently for the time being, but there are no plans to update it.
The Bonanza website is now available in several languages - Spanish, German, French, and Italian, and soon Portuguese - with corresponding currencies and domains to go with the new languages (e.g., http://www.bonanza.mx). According to Harding, Bonanza will now be able to submit international listings to an audience of hundreds of millions of new Google shoppers.
Currently about 50% of Bonanza listings are available for international shipping, with a goal of growing that to 90%. Sellers can set up shipping prices worldwide or to specific regions using a batch editor.
The blog post introducing the changes is set to moderation status, and Bonanza set it up so that its employees can provide specific responses inline directly after the question. ("This contrasts to our old method of having to awkwardly respond to individuals whose remarks may have been buried 10 comments back before we were able to respond," it explained.)
Harding said he would spend the next few months focused primarily on improving the polish and speed of Bonanza and spreading word about the site to press. "With this batch of changes we feel that Bonanza has arrived at a point where most of the key pieces we need are in place, and now it is a matter of making our experience run like a pony, purr like a kitten, and leap skyscrapers within a single bound," he wrote.
See what Bonanza sellers are saying on the Letters to the Editor blog
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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