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By Roger Donald
Posted Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The web is awash with search engines, directories and portals, and many of them are purely designed to make a hefty dent in the consumers' wallet. For many Internet shoppers they are key to finding that inspired birthday gift or Mothers Day present. For online retailers they can also be heaven sent. A good listing within a high profile shopping directory could be the make of your e-commerce site.

Many surfers first port of call when looking to shop on the web is their favourite engine. Lycos, Yahoo, Excite all have shopping guides. But how comprehensive are they? Do they independently review stores? Shamefully it appears not in many cases. Many engines work closely with partner retailers to gain the lion's share of the traffic, which can often mean a big spend and a hefty dent in the retailer's wallet. But what about those retailers with smaller budgets, or in some cases none at all?

Specific shopping directories such as, ShopNow etc, play a vital role in bringing traffic to online stores. Games Direct a UK based PC games retailer that works closely with shopping specific directories and price comparison services has increased its traffic and customer registrations by over 200%. The moral of the story being that once your e-commerce site is listed with shopping specific directories you are opening yourself up to a core group of web surfers that actually want to shop online. Many registered users of directories receive tailored e-mails updating them on the latest shopping sites and product innovations according to their personal profile. The question is, can you afford not to have your site listed with directories that announce e-commerce sites and products directly to seasoned Internet shoppers?

So, how do you go about getting listed? Before you go straight to the directories and try to get listed, take a look at your site. Does it offer secure transactions? This is paramount to getting anybody to shop online with you. With it taking the average surfer two years to make a purchase online (Forrester Report), security is a must. Are you using shopping baskets? Do you clearly show your terms and conditions? Do you have a postal address for customers to contact? Have you been accredited by an assurance programme? Such as, or Web Assured. All of these points will greatly improve the possibility that a surfer will get over their initial fears and take the leap of faith that is tapping in their credit card number at your checkout.

After you've addressed these issues it's time to get listed in those shopping directories. You can find lists of them on Yahoo and all of the other major search engines.

But what for the future? Directories are going to get larger and larger with more e-commerce sites coming online everyday. This creates a problem in scale. The sheer volume of sites out there will mean surfers getting lost in a murky sea of cyberspace. As a retailer try to strike up relationships with directories, keep them informed about your web sites developments, products and special offers. The directory editor will be only too pleased to have a constant source of editorial at their fingertips, especially when they have thousands of shop-aholics waiting at the end of an email just itching to spend their hard earned cash!

About the Author
Roger Donald
Senior Web Editor


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