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The Need for Speed

BY CSA STAFF

Retailers are investing time and money to create online shopping experiences that mirror real-world retail environments. But they shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that just a few bumps in the road—from slow page loads to site availability—can deter shoppers from making a purchase or, even worse, encourage them to move on to a competitor.

Indeed, evidence is mounting that websites that take too long to load can result not only in negative brand perception and diminished goodwill, but a significant loss in overall sales. According to Forrester Research, Cambridge, Mass., the majority of U.S. consumers expect a Web site to load in less than three seconds and 47% expect it to take less than two seconds. Meanwhile, recent data from Lexington, Mass.-based Gomez—a Web performance solutions company—revealed that 39% of consumers believe speed is more important than functionality for most sites. More than a third (37%) said they would not return to a slow site, and 27 % would likely jump to a competitor’s site.

Given such statistics, more and more retailers are seeking out ways to enhance site speed and availability. The Finish Line, for example, reached out to Akamai Technologies, Cambridge, Mass., implementing the firm’s Dynamic Site Accelerator to improve its online customer experience by speeding up the performance and availability of its site.

“Our core consumer has an affinity for technology and spends a significant amount of time on the Internet,” explained Roger Underwood, senior VP e-commerce, technology and operations, Finish Line, Indianapolis. “Not only do we need to continuously update our site to ensure that our product catalog is featuring the most current styles, but we also must ensure that our site is loading fast.”

The Akamai solution has reduced the footwear retailer’s page loading times by an average 50%. It also has allowed Finish Line to offload some of its site dynamic content to the Akamai platform, freeing up the company’s servers and reducing downtime. The fact that Akamai handles site performance and availability issues for the chain is another bonus.

“Our team is free to concentrate on strategic initiatives designed to grow our e-commerce business,” Underwood said.

The bottom line: As e-commerce grows and attracts more competitors, reliable site performance will become even more important in order to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

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Target launches anti-smoking campaign with American Cancer Society

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS – Target announced that it is launching a month-long anti-smoking campaign in connection with the American Cancer Society’s 2010 Great American Smokeout to support guests and team members in their efforts to quit smoking.

"Target is committed to helping our guests and team members reach their well-being goals, which may include quitting smoking, and we’re proud to work with the American Cancer Society for this year’s Great American Smokeout," said Dr. Joshua Riff, Target’s medical director. "As part of our focus on prevention, Target offers a variety of tools, tips and products for those who want to stop smoking and stay smoke-free. This campaign advances our prevention efforts and will ultimately lead to healthier communities."

The campaign will begin on Nov. 1 and will highlight Target’s assortment of stop-smoking aids and give greater visibility to Target Pharmacy and Target Clinic healthcare professionals, who can offer support, smoking-cessation materials and advice, the company reported. The campaign is anchored by in-store signing and informational brochures in all Target stores, as well as features in the weekly ad and at Target.com.

The American Cancer Society’s 35th annual Great American Smokeout takes place Nov. 18, and is designed to motivate and empower smokers with personalized tools, tips and support to help them quit for good.

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B&N launches parents’ loyalty program

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK – Barnes & Noble announced the launch of the B&N Kids’ Club (www.bn.com/kidsclub), a free loyalty and rewards program for Barnes & Noble parents and caregivers. The B&N Kids’ Club is an in-store and online program that provides exclusive benefits along with savings and discounts on Barnes & Noble’s outstanding selection of children’s books and educational toys and games.

When customers sign-up for the B&N Kids’ Club they will be welcomed with a 30% off coupon to use on a future purchase of children’s books, educational toys and games, and adult games and puzzles, the company reported. Kids’ Club members will also receive a $5 coupon for every $100 they spend on children’s books and toys up to four times per year.

“Barnes & Noble is committed to being a valuable resource for parents,” said Jaime Carey, chief merchandising officer for Barnes & Noble. “Our recently launched B&N Kids’ Expert Circle and our newly expanded Educational Toys & Games section in stores and online reflects our dedication to helping parents choose the best products and receive meaningful advice about all the stages of raising children. B&N Kids’ Club is our way of saying thank you for continuing to trust Barnes & Noble.”

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