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Tue June 16 2009 22:50:36

Recap of Small Retailers Track at Internet Retailer

By: Ina Steiner

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The Small Retailers track at the Internet Retailer conference was a great day of interesting sessions. (My writeup of this morning's keynote address with Patrick Byrne is appearing in the AuctionBytes Newsflash newsletter.) Here are a few highlights of the day's presentations.

Adele Sage of Forrester Research talked about the importance of web analytics. She said it may sound counterintuitive, but it's best to eliminate unused content - the only caveat is to be sure that shoppers aren't just missing the content because they can't find it rather than because they don't find it useful. And retailers should streamline the "end-of-purchase funnel" - for example, if you make shoppers register, you may lose 23% of shoppers who don't want to go through the registration process.

Interestingly, Au-Co Mai, who founded jewelry site Emitations, said loyal customers do want to register so they can specify shipping preferences and the like. She has created a gift registry, wish list and a loyalty program.

Joel Lederhause of talked about negotiating with vendors. He said don't get stuck on negotiating solely on price - there are lots of areas you can get vendors to nudge on, like terms, leasing versus owning, service and maintenance agreements and more. Most importantly: if you don't ask, you won't get it. He said in today's economic climate, vendors are expecting you to negotiate!

While the conference hashtag was #IRCE for Twitterers, we used a hashtag for the Small Retailers track of #IRCESR. If you go to and search for #IRCESR you can see some of the attendees' comments. If you are ever putting on a meeting, it's a great way to add an extra dimension. co-founder Tom Cox explained in a session on social networking that his employees created a parody site, - but he said there were real costs that went into making the site, but no measurable benefits other than making the site more fun.

There were sessions on search marketing, email segmentation, product fulfillment, and a great session from on finding and building a niche.

After a full day of sessions, I headed to the Internet Retailer conference dinner sponsored by Alibaba. I was delighted to meet one of's founders, Jane Jiang. She had been one of Jack Ma's English students - if you don't know the history behind the company, there's a book called Alibaba that is an interesting read.

Tomorrow I'll be headed back to the exhibit hall floor and also hope to talk to more retailers about how they are faring in these economic times.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Wed Jun 17 07:23:28 2009

BTW, I agree with Adele that you shouldn't put barriers in the way, many people don't want to register on websites. But I wonder how many small sellers think about creating a way for repeat customers to set up a "my account" to make it easier, as Au-Co has done on

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by: On Lies and Secrets

Wed Jun 17 09:03:08 2009

I think it is a good idea to remove unused content - unused content junks up a site and it has the cost associated with maintenance just as if it was used.  People are already drowning in information....

I also agree that I appreciate the ability to not have to register just to purchase something. Registration always seems like a trap to harvest my personal information for some nefarious purpose and to send me a bunch of unwanted spam.  Plus it usually involves a password and I have countless passwords to keep up with.

I don't mind registering for merchants whose sites I frequent, but there are only a few of those.  I do buy a number random items here and there, but I don't always intend to return to a particular retailer.

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by: Ebay No More

Fri Jun 19 10:40:39 2009

Ina I really don't care what Alibaba had to say. Alibaba is a company focused on bringing Chinese manufactured goods to America. Alibaba's entire existence is to help pair Chinese manufacturers to wholesalers and retailers globally. We could all use a lot less manufactured Chinese junk and a whole lot more of US manufactured goods to purchase. Any discussions at the IRCE with American companies that you can report?

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