Conference call dull? Why not do some shopping!

In a recent Ipsos survey, 12 million Americans fessed up to shopping online while listening to coworkers and clients drone away on a conference call.  Lifehacker has posted a list of techniques to help people avoid zoning out during a call – but I’m more interested in encouraging and exploiting this trend.    What if shopping cart vendors were to automatically discount purchases made between 9 and 5 local time, or create coupons which were only valid during business hours – would it work?

Cart-less selling, monetization and Lemonade

As I said in my last post, I am a huge fan of utilities that let non-software-developers (i.e. “the ungeeked”) create a revenue stream from their website or blog.   I like the idea of WidgetBucks, and I like the idea of  Lemonade (they’re a bit different – WidgetBucks selects products based on page analysis, where as Lemonade lets you choose your favorite products).    The Varien guys were negative on Lemonade because of poor product choices, but this has to be something that they’re working on.  I think that for people who don’t want a cart or an Amazon store, simple options like this – used in moderation – could be a successful monetization mechanism.  We’ll see.

Interesting widgets for your blog or site

I really like the idea of easy to use and install widgets that can be dropped on to a website.  Widgizit has created an excellent one for Amazon. Others are available at I’ll be interested to see if smaller carts will start creating things like this for their vendors – it’s not hard to do, but it’s a lot more work to make it as elegant as Widgizit did.

PayPal Documentation

Grumble grumble … for some reason, the links to documentation on the PayPal site are broken. Here is the correct link to the PayPal API Documentation. Thanks to Tad at PayPal for providing the new URI.

Aside: It’s a big aggravating that legitimate email from PayPal’s Merchant Technical Support group gets caught up by the GMail spam filter. Is this a misfeature designed to increase the take rate on Google Checkout? 🙂

Search Strategies

This post from Ask MetaFilter discusses a few interesting search ideas that cart vendors are implementing.  I’ve always been fond of the kind of progressive guided search that a lot of vendors implement using dropdown lists (or Ajax) – this seems to make discovery easier for people who either don’t know precisely what they want or cannot describe it unambiguously using a SKU.

Target becomes a target

Target is being sued by the National Federation of the Blind for having an inaccessible website. Two specific items were cited:

  • The use of image maps (which screen readers cannot handle)
  • A lack of alt tags on images

Now if using image maps is a core part of your design, well, that’s a tough one – but how hard is it to add an alt tag, for heaven’s sakes? By the way, if they had validated their HTML, this issue would have been uncovered during testing rather than in the courtroom – another reason to comply with web standards and validate your code.