If you want to convert online browsers into buyers, add a zoom-in feature to your product graphics. According to a January study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 44% of shoppers surveyed said that the ability to see a closeup shot of a product online would increase their likelihood of making a purchase.

Site Features Most Likely to Convert Browsers into Buyers
Closeup product images 44% % of shoppers indicating this feature would increase likelihood of buying
Product availability information 39%
Product comparison guides 34%
Search function 30%
800-number to contact service rep 25%
Catalog quick order 24%
Source: E-Retail Intelligence System Internet Users Consumer Panel, PricewaterhouseCoopers


Percentage of online retailers that lose money on shipping and handling: 44%

Percentage of online retailers expected to begin outsourcing to drop-shippers within the year: 33%

Source: Jupiter Media Metrix


Number of dot-com companies that closed between January 2000 and January 2001: at least 270

Percentage of those companies that closed between October 2000 and January 2001: 70%

Number that closed in January 2001 alone: at least 49

Source: Webmergers.com


While the online gender gap has pretty much closed in the U.S., in parts of Europe it remains alive and well, according to a study by research firm NetValue Worldwide. In Spain, for instance, more than twice as many men as women are online.

Country % women in online population % women in general population
U.S. 49.4% 51.1%
Germany 40.8% 51.1%
United Kingdom 40.1% 50.8%
France 38.0% 51.3%
Spain 31.3% 51.0%
Source: NetValue; U.S. Bureau of Census 2000


We know Amazon.com is the undisputed leader in implementing e-commerce technologies for the masses. But at I.Merchant, we think the online superstore deserves recognition for the copy within its shopping cart function. If you click the “View Cart” function when your cart is empty, the screen doesn’t just tell you that it’s empty. It adds, “Your Shopping Cart lives to serve. Give it purpose — fill it with books, CDs, videos, DVDs, toys, electronics, and more.” So much nicer than “Get back to the online store and buy something, will ya?”


Success online — like success offline — depends largely on being able to quantify results. In its report “Winning the Online Consumer 2.0,” research firm Boston Consulting Group identifies five key metrics:

  • visitor-to-buyer conversion rates
  • number of unique visitors
  • proportion of repeat customers
  • orders per customer
  • ratio of repeat-order revenue to first-time-order revenue.

The report notes that all five areas, not just a few, must be measured consistently.

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