by Laura Fumiko Keehn & Natasha Thompson

E-commerce sales are rising at an increasing pace and if transactions conducted through the Internet continue at the current rate, online global sales will reach $150 billion this year, an increase of 56 percent from the $96 billion recorded in 2004, according to figures compiled by Visa International.

A number of key factors are behind these impres­sive figures — a wider variety of payment options, con­tinuing growth in online consumers, and increased trust in online shopping. With online sales increasing in the U.S., Europe and Asia, businesses are looking at the increasing number of options available to them to grab a share of the booming and increasing savvy web population.

Web design strategy is crucial in developing a successful business. But what are the essential qualities of a successful website? How can businesses utilize the internet to pro­mote sales? For one thing, many internet sales strate­gies are targeting the demographic that really counts… women. In the U.S., women have a very strong internet presence, with half of all internet users female. Women have very strong purchasing power, and have dictated internet growth in the States.

There are more effective, less time
consuming ways to monitor users than
intrusive online forms.

At EA-Tokyo’s presentation on Jul. 5, President and Chief Executive Officer of Netyear Group Corporation, Fujiyo Ishiguro, said she believes Japan may respond to a similar marketing strategy. Though only 35 percent of internet users in Japan are female, women in Japan wield immense purchasing power. Japanese women are marrying later, having babies later, making lots of money and spending it on themselves. Over half the population of 25 to 29 year old women in Japan, and nearly 30 percent of women aged 30 to 34 have never been married. These numbers actually beat out the U.S., meaning that more women remain single for longer in Japan than Stateside. A company that has successfully taken advantage of this market is Camellia Diamond, who has a very successful marketing cam­paign targeting independent women. The campaign celebrates women who can buy their own diamonds with the catch phrase ‘for myself, by myself’.

Sisters are definitely doing it for themselves. Female online presence in Japan is not spectacular. Despite this, considering all their spending power, internet strategies can and should hit the female demographic, which will no doubt wield favorable results.

Another area with room for growth, according to Ishiguro, is user response. For a website to be truly effective, it must be respon­sive to the changing and evolving needs of its users, and able to adapt accordingly. A common problem is in monitoring user needs. There is always the challenge of how to survey user experience without be­ing too intrusive on the customer’s time and comfort. One solution that Netyear has found effective is incorporating interactive features to enable businesses to monitor their user needs. There are more effective, less time consuming ways to moni­tor users than intrusive online forms. Ishiguro main­tains that the Netyear approach to website design — a system known as User eXperience design, or UXD, has been successful in the construction of many corporate client websites. Uniqlo’s website became the most ac­cessed site within a stand-alone e-commerce site under Netyear, and Suntory’s e-wine site has received critical acclaim for its customer interactive website.

User interactive features have the added bonus of making consumers feel special, and thereby promoting brand loyalty. There has been a great shift towards cus­tomer interaction through corporate websites. As Ishiguro explained, it al­lows for non-intrusive monitoring of website viewers, and also leads to consumer satisfaction. The credit card company, Life Card, has an aggressive campaign involving a televi­sion commercial with multiple endings available only online. The cliffhanger commercial ends with the catch phrase ‘for the ending, check online!’ A strong adver­tising campaign involving website interaction also lead up to the final episode of the popular manga series Slam Dunk. Visitors to the website could submit messages to the creator Takehiko Inoue, thereby becoming cartoon ‘spectators’ in the final installment of the series. The advertising campaign, which was designed as a ‘thank you’ to fans, was highly effective, with readership growing even now, eight years after the final episode.

The internet allows companies to reach out to con­sumers in very personal ways. Through utilizing two-way communication; brand loyalty, effective campaign awareness, and non-intrusive consumer monitoring is fostered, making successful Web design vital.

For more information on Netyear, please visit

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