ETail: Web 2.0 is In the Bag

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PHILADELPHIA -- An eTail session Aug. 8 called "Making Web 2.0 Work in E-Commerce" was an insightful discussion on how retailers are using the tricks of user-generated content to market and merchandise products.

Both eBags, an online retailer of luggage, and TicketsNow, an events ticket seller, have used consumer control interfaces on their e-commerce sites to drive sales.

"Consumers want to be in charge and control the information that they get from the retailer, so that they are not pummeled," said Peter Cobb, president and co-founder of eBags.

The eBags platform lets users sign up for RSS feeds based on brand, style, price and size. Then when a new SKU is entered into the system, the RSS feed automatically sends an alert to the customer.

Though numbers were not disclosed, the eBags platform worked so well that the firm launched a shoes site called as a response to customers who were looking for a pair of shoes to match their handbag.

Another personalization feature is the ability to match a handbag from with a pair of shoes from based on suggested items through a database of styles and previous customer matches. Customers can also rate bad matches and after a number of occurrences, these two products will no longer be put together.

"Some brand partners have been upset with bad reviews like the cell phone pocket is too small," Mr. Cobb said. "But we see this as useful information for the manufacturer. If customers say that the pocket is too small, then it is and it needs to be fixed."

Kenneth Dotson, chief marketing officer of TicketsNow, agreed that the customer reviews is a good tactic to building the customer experience.

"Consumers told us that they wanted the ability to remember an event and share their memories with friends and family," Mr. Dotson said. "So we implemented a review board [online] which received 15,000 reviews the day it launched."

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