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 WidgetBox.com. 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.

NRF posts Favorite 50 e-Tailers

Amazon.com 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?