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.

NRF posts Favorite 50 e-Tailers tops the list

To no one’s surprise, Amazon – the world’s largest pure-play e-tailer – is in the top spot. During the course of its metamorphosis from discount online bookstore to a diverse Internet selling environment (and incubator not only for a startling number of micro-suppliers but of online marketing for Target), Amazon has focused relentlessly on two principles: customer service and innovation.

The takeaway for SMB cart owners?

… Online retailers are investing in applications they believe will embellish selling. Some of the more prominent of these are online reviews, live chat and the ability for customers to watch video about how to use a product.

Each of these can provide significant differentiation for your store.  Which ones do you use?

Ads in small spaces

Last weekend I was on a US Airways plane, and was surprised to see that they covered even the tray tables with advertisements.   I did a bit of searching and found the product placement spaces  offered by airlines doesn’t end there – would you believe sponsored air sickness bags?

Now arguably this is getting a bit carried away – but what about the small spaces in your world?  Is your store advertised in your email signature?  Does everyone who knows you know about your store?    Do you have a blog or a newsletter for the store?  Are you giving business cards to people that you meet who might be interested in your goods or services?

Poor cart design considered harmful

… to your bottom line. Online customer experience management firm Tealeaf commissioned a poll that found that 87% of people have experienced a problem with an online transaction in the last year. And boy, are people intolerant of problems! The poll report, Reasons for e-Shop abandonment (PDF), says that they will permanently switch to a competitor if they find the site hard to navigate or experience problems on checkout.

Special thanks to Shoshana Deutschkron at Tealeaf for providing this report.

Keyword Stuffing and being banned by Google

Every once in a while some genius will post to a forum about how he’s discovered a “great trick” to boost his Google PR – and it’s invariably white text on white background, setting visibility property, or something similar. Don’t do this. Either Google will catch you themselves, or your competitors will notice and gleefully report you. Google’s Matt Cutts discusses this (and gives a particularly egregious example) on his blog.

Do you have an “I’ll Buy If” strategy?

37Signals had an interesting post about phantom buyers (you know the kind; they say, “I’ll buy it if …”).  I think it’s a smart strategy to pre-plan your product roadmap carefully enough that you can respond quickly to these people with your own conditional offer: IF you’ll buy it, I will commit to adding feature X in timeframe Y.   Of course, the difference is that your offer actually binds you to something if they PayPal you the funds, whereas their “offer” doesn’t commit them to anything.  Nevertheless, I have found that this strategy is often successful, and takes me in a direction I wanted to go anyhow, sooner or later.