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Creative solutions from Borders, Wrangler and AutoTrader.com

Online merchandising opens new chapter for retailer

Knowing that its e-commerce partnership with Amazon.com would come to an end in May, books, music and movie retailer Borders wanted to reinvent its online presence with the goal of differentiating itself from the competition.

“This is a commodity market — a book is a book is a book,” says Graeme Grant, COO of software developer Allurent.

The company was also looking for a way to focus on customer service and user experience for what would be its first standalone Web site in years.

Borders tapped Allurent to create an online shopping experience that mirrored being in a bricks-and-mortar store. The result is the Magic Shelf, a virtual merchandise display that spans the top half of the Borders homepage. A user can navigate the display by scanning up and down to view different shelves, such as “Bestsellers” or “Staff Favorites,” and left to right to scan the titles within each category.

Registered users can also try the “Picked for You” feature to create a personalized shelf from numerous topics of interest that they can return to again and again.

“On other sites if you were to buy a gift for someone on a particular topic, the site might continue to recommend books for you on that topic, which is not necessarily relevant to you,” Grant says.

Users who interacted with the Magic Shelf viewed 41% more products per session than users who didn’t, were 13% more likely to purchase and 11% more likely to recommend the site to others. –Mary Hurn

Online auction crosses finish line for charity

Approach: Wrangler, the official jean of the Hendrick Motorsports organization, used a series of banner ads to promote a charity auction for Victory Junction Gang Camp, a NASCAR-themed camp for children with serious illnesses, on eBay in September. It offered NASCAR fans the chance to bid for a ride around a speedway with Dale Earnhardt Jr. Fans could place bids by visiting wrangler.com or ebay.com/wranglerjeans.  

Results: A total of $18,285 was raised for the charity. –Chantal Todé

Unique mailer drives response

Approach: To convince car dealerships to list their inventory on its site, online automotive marketplace AutoTrader.com first needed to convince decision makers to take meetings with AutoTrader’s sales reps. It sent 250 remote control cars across five targeted cities between April and September — but without controllers. Recipients received the controller when they set up a meeting with AutoTrader.

Results: The response rate was 32%. –Mary Hurn

Janet Barker-Evans
SVP, group creative director, Draftfcb Chicago

Borders’ Magic Shelf beautifully serves up one relevant “shelf-full” of books related to each visitor’s unique interests, making it a lot better than other ‘suggested reading’ offerings, which often present too many options or too broad a range. It also displays the cover of each book, on a ‘shelf,’ so users can browse the titles and then go as deep into the books as they want. It’s visually engaging and intuitive, making it easy and fun to browse and shop.

Wrangler and NASCAR developed a series of banner ads to drive traffic to an eBay charity auction benefiting Victory Junction Gang Camp, for children with medical conditions or illnesses. They could boost response if they made the banners dynamic instead of static and presented the message in successive frames — not all on one frame where it is hard to read.

AutoTrader created a fun mailer to increase sales appointments which included a remote control car. The catch? You have to call and make a sales appointment to get the controller. This kind of campaign can backfire as some prospects might feel a bit duped, which is not a great way to establish new customers. A better idea might be to send the controllers in a second mailer, or even in person on a cold call. The graphics and typography on the outer box feel a bit dated and could have been more contemporary to match the feel and tone of the race car contents inside.

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