As many of you know I am now the Chief Marketing Officer for Shopperapproved.com and Trustguard.com.  We recently did a survey that brought some great insights into why consumers prefer shopping online.  Read more below….Feel free to share.  The information we received through the study can give e-commerce merchants the edge they need to have a successful holiday season.

In order to improve your customer’s online shopping experience it’s important to first understand why they buy.

Reason for Study
Shopper Approved wanted to help online retailers understand why customers choose to shop online over going to their local shopping center or brick and mortar store. Once online merchants understand why customers are shopping online, they will better know how to prioritize operational improvements and focus their marketing efforts.

Methodology and Details
We surveyed 25,660 individual consumers, immediately after they made an online purchase from one of 207 participating small and mid-sized online retailers from a wide array of industries. These are businesses competing with large online retailers, big box retailers and other local retailers.  We asked their customers the following question: “What key factor influenced you to buy online instead of locally?”  Shoppers were then given seven choices to choose from. In order to ensure accurate and unbiased results, the position of the options in the list was randomized for each participant and each option showed in each list position an equal number of times.

What key factor influenced you to buy online instead of locally?

25.4% – Larger selection (6530)

25.0% – Better pricing (6415)

24.7% – More convenient (6330)

10.7% – Other (2757)

7.2% – Time savings (1856)

3.6% – Easy to compare (917)

3.3% – No sales tax (855)

Key Findings
Of the primary reasons that people shop online, three overwhelmingly stand out, namely ‘Selection’, ‘Pricing’ and ‘Convenience’. Each of these options was selected by approximately one fourth of the respondents (75.1% total).

This information has significant implications for online stores because it helps retailers understand where they should be focusing their efforts.

Selection. Local retailers, even Big Box stores, have limited shelf space and usually focus on best-selling or newer items. They cannot always stock every product in a specific niche. However, the increased visibility and access to the world-wide market can make it feasible for online merchants to sell more obscure items online that cannot find a market locally. Online retailers should consider increasing their selection within niches to pick up long-tail orders.  This is a natural response to the needs of customers that cannot be met in any other way.

Pricing. This study confirms that consumers are sensitive to price and that pricing is a significant reason why consumers shop online. Online retailers are at somewhat of a disadvantage in this arena because they must pay to ship product to consumers and the cost of shipping is often significant. Online sellers should watch their shipping costs closely. We have not polled online retailers about shipping costs, but some stores we discussed this with indicated that their cost of shipping as a percentage of total order amount regularly exceeds 20%.  If online sellers can find a way to sell at lower prices than local sellers or eat the cost of shipping for consumers, they could pick up additional sales.

Convenience. Consumers also shop online for convenience. We didn’t poll specifically why consumers selected convenience as the primary reason for shopping online. Obviously shopping from home or work at any time is inherently convenient but retailers can work to make the shopping experience even more convenient for their customers. In order to make their sites more convenient, online sellers can:

  • Make their sites load faster by focusing on page size and/or by using a CDN (Content Delivery Network) like Akamai or Edgecast.

  • Make sure their sites are cross-browser compatible. There are several tools that retailers can use including crossbrowsertesting.com and browserstack.com.

  • Build in mobile compatibility.  Mobile shopping is the fastest growing demographic, and smartphones are making it increasingly easier to buy.

  • Improve their user experience and the design of the site

  • Offer more shipping options. Retailers could consider adding overnight or second day air shipping if they don’t already offer it.

  • Make sure orders are picked, packed and shipped in less than 24 hours

  • Make it easy to track orders and view order history online

  • Focus on improving the checkout experience and making the process as frictionless as possible

  • Make sure product images are large and clear and product descriptions and easy to understand

These are just some ways that online retailers can make the online shopping experience more convenient for shoppers.

Of the 4 remaining answers, 10.7% chose ‘Other’, 7.2% chose ‘Time Savings’, 3.6% chose ‘Easy To Compare’, and 3.3% chose ‘No Sales Tax’.

Sales Taxes. One of the most interesting answers in the survey was the surprisingly low ‘No Sales Tax’ response.  “No Sales Tax” was the least selected option at 3.3%, and this factor does not appear to be a primary driver of the decision to purchase online. The United States Congress is currently considering legislation that would require U.S. Internet retailers to collect and remit sales and use taxes on all online purchases made within the United States. Proponents of this legislation often argue the law is necessary to “level the playing field” because, they claim, people primarily shop online to avoid sales tax. However, these claims are not substantiated in the behavior of actual shoppers.

Online retail composes less than 6% of all U.S. retail purchases according to the U.S. Census (http://www.census.gov/retail/mrts/www/data/pdf/ec_current.pdf). Also, according to James S. Gilmore III, the former chairman of the Congressional Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce, 83% of online sales are made from Big Box stores that have already established nexus in many or all states, and therefore are already collecting and remitting sales taxes. That means that just 1.02% of all retail orders are made without collecting sales tax a the time the order is placed – because the seller does not have physical presence in the state of the purchaser. And when you consider the results of our survey only 3.3% of those orders within that 1.02% group or .033% of all retail purchases are made online primarily to avoid a sales tax. In summary, 3 retail orders out of every 10,000 are made online (instead of in a local store) primarily to avoid paying sales taxes.

Some might suggest that not collecting sales taxes would give online retailers a pricing advantage, however, as mentioned above, remote-selling companies have to pay to ship their products to consumers and the cost of shipping almost always exceeds the cost of sales taxes. Therefore, there is no inherent pricing advantage given to remote-sellers by not collecting a sales tax. And in fact, the outbound shipping costs might place remote-sellers at a disadvantage in this area already.

Online retailers should focus on improving their ‘Selection’, ‘Pricing’, and ‘Convenience’. Retailers that excel in these areas will attract customers at greater rates than those that do not. Retailers should also inform potential customers of their strengths in these areas whenever possible. Additionally, retailers should not assume that the non-collection of sales tax provides them with a material advantage.

It is also important that online retailers understand how they are performing in the eyes of customers. A post-transactional customer survey, such as that provided by Shopper Approved, can help online retailers by providing them with instant feedback regarding how they’re doing and ways they can improve. Post-transaction surveys combined with customer ratings can also give potential new customers valuable information and confidence during the purchase process.


Happy eCommerce and Happy Holidays!

Wow, it’s been a very long time since I posted, but I just haven’t been motivated to write and I truly believe unless you have something of value to write – don’t!

Since my last post my life has been quite a roller coaster.  I got into the DR space for awhile, wow! what a whirlwind that is.  It was a breakaway from my traditional knowledge of eCommerce, but I embraced it and fell into the excitement of the “And wait there’s more!”  The DR industry is truly a breed unto itself and it is quite amazing.  I will save my comments and insight for another post, as it truly deserves a post all it’s own and boy, do I have a lot to say and many people to thank for the knowledge I gained.

I then joined a truly phenominal company, buySAFE, who I actually partnered with while at HackerSafe.  I am now their Director of Business Development.  As many of you know Verisign recently made a strategic investment in buySAFE….now many of you know that I wasn’t fully bought into buySAFE’s business model, but they made some great changes that really got me excited and made me want to come on board.

Unless I truly believe in a product I am no good…so I had to make sure I had a passion for their service in order to come fully on board.  I can truly say that not only am I passionate about their service but my colleagues are some of the best people I have had the pleasure to know and have in my life.

In October I jumped over a tennis net, well actually hurdled it..trying to relive my track days and show off to my 3 year old son, in doing so I dislocated my knee and tore not one, not two but all four of my ligaments…it has been a month since my surgery and I am now doing outpatient PT..been in house for awhile.  I won’t walk on my own for quite sometime, but an injury like this makes you really look at your life and reevaluate your life and your life’s goals as well as the people you surround yourself with.

Hence my passion and loyalty for the people that work at buySAFE.  They could not have been more supportive.  They have been beside me every step of the way and it makes me just more passionate about buySAFE!  They have truly earned my loyalty and I am proud to be a part of the buySAFE team!  A lesson to employers…if you want loyal employees…it isn’t about the paycheck, or the stock options but it’s about treating them like family and making them feel special…just taking that extra step to let them know that you care about them outside of what they can do for your company will earn you a loyal employee who will give you above 100%.

So, enough about that, but I just had to get it off my chest.  I truly feel blessed.  I want to talk to you about buySAFE now, many of you may know their older model…but how many of you know the great changes they have made to their service that makes such a HUGE impact on the merchants conversion and overall profit?  Well let me tell you….I will keep it short as to not have a pitch fest :)…but really just exude my passion for the product…LOL, no truly I am passionate about it because I have seen the results that merchants are seeing.

Not only does buySAFE have an impact on first time visitors converting into shoppers, but that typically a majority of first time buyers choose to buy the bond.  We also know that bonding increases overall customer satisfaction, as buySAFE Merchants see, on average, a 14% increase in the repeat buyer rate when buySAFE is present vs. not  … now how valuable is that?  The merchant doesn’t have to do additional advertising to get the consumer to come back, but use a service that is free and increase their return rate by 14%.

Ok, so for the bullet points for those of you that are asking what is buySAFE
1.  buySAFE is free
2.  buySAFE will pay for the intgegration of buySAFE which is about 20 hours of development
3.  buySAFE increases conversion an average of 10.6% even with McAfee on the site
4.  buySAFE is currently running a promotion where it will pick up the cost of McAfee & VeriSign EVSSL
5.  buySAFE will do an AB test on all of your sites
6.  buySAFE will pay larger merchants a revshare of the bond fees collected from buyers who choose to include the bond
8.  Their are no contracts or long term commitments

Bottom line is buySAFE offers merchants a unique way to immediately improve their website’s conversion rate, revenue and profitability – Website Bonding. buySAFE is used by thousands of online merchants, including many ranked in the IR Top 500.

Not only that but it is a PROVEN SOLUTION

Consumers have two primary concerns when shopping online – personal information security and merchant reliability.  While security solutions like Verisign® SSL reassure shoppers that their personal information is safe, buySAFE guarantees shoppers they are shopping with a reliable, trustworthy and stable merchant.  As the Internet’s most effective trust solution, buySAFE has proven to increase conversion by up to 20%.

So as I titled my blog post..as you can see buySAFE truly puts their money where there mouth is.  They know it’s a proven solution, they know it works..that my friendly merchants is why we don’t charge for it and why we are willing to pick up the cost of the integration….any questions?

If you are intrigued as you should be..give me a call or email me.  The bottom line is I am not asking you to make a decision to use buySAFE, but how can you ignore the test results?  What I am asking you to do, because it is in the best interest of you the merchant is TEST it…if it works like I know it will you will be extremely happy and if I am wrong, and all the extensive testing buySAFE has done in the past 6 years is wrong then don’t use it…easy!

For further reference go to www.buysafe.com, www.buysafe.com/demo/home.htm to view a merchant using it go to www.efaucets.com

I hope to hear from you all soon..you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Happy Holidays Everyone!!  May it be the best year ever for you!!!!

Happy Ecommerce,


Hello All,

So I know I haven’t written in awhile as I have been busy with our events and sponsors and I just didn’t have the urge to as nothing really affected me enough to make me want to write about it.  That all changed last week when I was invited to go to Solid Cactus’s Boot Camp to speak.  This was my 2nd Boot Camp that I have had the privilege of speaking at and I if I were to say that I was majorly impressed it would be the understatement of the year!

They really outdid themselves.  The quality of education they bring to their merchants is anything short of amazing!  Basically it was 3 days of hands on training (17 sessions) see complete schedule of sessions here http://bootcamp.solidcactus.com/sessions.html

The merchants were engaged, asking questions and then to top it off they had their choice of specialists at Solid Cactus Headquarters where they could schedule one on one time to discuss their own site and find ways to improve it.

To follow up each day of hard work/hands on training the merchants were entertained with no expense spared.  See complete list of events here http://bootcamp.solidcactus.com/evening.html

All in all it was an amazing 3 days of work and fun.  What I experienced there by talking to the merchants, seeing them engage with the team at Solid Cactus is what motivated me to write this post.  So here I go being a little controversial again but with good reason.  We all know that Solid Cactus has become the Red Headed Step Child of Yahoo! Web Developers because of their branching out to offer their merchants other solutions but let’s be real, in today’s economy merchants must be doing multi channel ecommerce, if they aren’t they will be left behind.  I have to say that the loyalty that Solid Cactus emotes from their merchants speaks volumes.  Everyone that I had the privilege to talk to was absolutely raving about Solid Cactus and how happy they were with their services, especially their Pay Per Click Management.  I was impressed with the success stories I heard and believe me there were plenty!

So, here is my point. Isn’t it the Developers responsibility to ensure their merchants are successful?  Wouldn’t the merchant’s success be even more valuable to Yahoo!?  I believe the answer to both of those questions is yes.  Solid Cactus is giving their merchants what they need to succeed, if that means helping them to multi-channel ecommerce then so be it, but ultimately that would help them with their overall success on Yahoo! right?

I personally used to feel that Solid Cactus was getting away from their core business of Yahoo! Web Development (which they are great at!) and it was going to hurt their business, but I was wrong. All of the tools and Services they offer, from email marketing, Pay Per Click Management, site search, feed perfect, shipping manager, call center…you can find their full list of services at http://www.solidcactus.com are all designed to give their clients what they need to succeed on line and why have them go elsewhere if you can give them what they need.  After all they know their merchants best and can help them through the whole process.

I know a few years back they had issues due to lack of staffing and not being able to scale as quickly as they needed to, but I can tell you this, they now have been able to scale and have over 140 employees spread throughout their numerous departments who are their willing and able to assist merchants in any of the needs they may have.  They even have a publication that goes out monthly http://www.ebizinsider.com and forums for the members at    http://forum.ebizinsider.com/index.php

I really believe that all providers need to be doing what Solid Cactus is doing, educating their merchants, building that relationship which instills trust and loyalty, which ultimately makes better business for the provider and the merchant.  It is a win win for all involved.

I want to thank Scott Sanfilippo and Joe Palko for giving me an insider’s look into your organization and helping me to understand all that you do for your merchants.  I am proud to have you as a partner of eCommerce Merchants Trade Association. http://www.ecmta.org Keep up the great work!!

Happy eCommerce


Thank You!!

Hello All,

I am dedicating this post to thank everyone for their support of me, my first post and most importantly for voicing your concerns over what McAfee is to their merchants and helping me to make more merchants aware. I have received 1400 views, many comments as well as support from many colleagues. Thank you and Thank you again!

Special Thanks Go To :

Nir at http://www.hotbuckles.com , Joe Beaulaurier at http://www.prweb.com , Bryan Eisenberg at http://www.grokdotcom.com ,Donna Talarico at http://www.solidcactus.com ,Dave Davies at http://www.beanstalk-inc.com ,Wayne R. Dempsey at http://pelicanparts.com ,Tom Ham at http://www.stompernet.com ,Liz Broussard at http://www.classic-charms.com ,Pam Marcharola at http://www.blaircandy.com ,Karl at http://www.kaleidescopestoyou.com ,Michael Roebuck at http://www.allwebpromotion.com JP Diaz at http://www.ecmta.org ,Ed Shapiro at http://www.childbasics.com ,Bob Nelson at http://www.fastlabels.com ,Julie Swain at http://www.ithacasports.com ,DR at http://www.adanet.com ,CD at http://www.cdrates.com ,Chris at http://www.digitalslingshot.com ,Ty Ricker at http://www.deal4it.com ,Joel Comm at http://www.joelcomm.com ,Chip Ardnt at http://www.merchantadvantage.com ,Greg Beddor at http://www.webfu-design.com ,Jay Berkowitz at http://www.tengoldenrules.com ,Miles at http://www.marketingwithmiles.com/ ,Leslie Rohde at http://www.leslierohde.com

Again, thank you so much. I am currently in Boston attending Affiliate Summit where I plan to do some co-marketing with http://www.pepperjam.com as many of you know I run and educational trade association called eCommerce Merchants Trade Association, we also do in house Affiliate Management for our merchants. So I am here to gain new partnerships that can help me better serve our merchants.

Have a terrific weekend everyone and Happy eCommerce!!!

Here is what’s coming up for eCommere Merchants.


Also for those of you that are wondering, yes we finalized the deal with Control Scan and I am pretty happy with the package we were able to put together for our members.

So for those of you that are truly looking for the essential eCommerce Security package it is finally available. See link below and tell them Cresta Pillsbury sent you. I am sure they will get a kick out of it.


Best Regards,


So I will start by saying…can you believe it? McAfee actually got the message, and I won’t be so egotistical to believe that it was because of my post but because of all the merchants who actually called into McAfee and either canceled their subscription or threatened to. I just want to say Well Done Merchants!!!! Way to stand up for your well paid for traffic 🙂

For those of you first visiting my blog, you may wonder what all this is about, how my links don’t really make any sense, well my good friend Michael Roebuck experienced the same thing and here is an excerpt of an email I received from him yesterday that may shed some light for you.


I’d love to say my blog post made McAfee take action, but I think I must bow down to you. Looks like McAfee Secure removed the link to shopping. You don’t happen to have an old screen shot do you? I didn’t even think of taking one.

My updates, with screen shots this time. I can monitor changes with screen shots now.


Michael Roebuck
All Web Promotion, Inc.

“Providing search engine marketing and Yahoo! store website design services”

So low and behold I went and checked it out and sure enough the link is gone. In answer to Michael’s question, yes I did take screen shots! See below.

Example 1

Merchants Site

photo 2

Old McAfee Seal with Attention Shoppers and link to shopping portal


McAfee Shopping portal that consumers were being directed to when either 2 links in the previous screen were clicked on.

Now the real question lies in now that McAfee has stopped redirecting merchants well paid for traffic to their shopping portal KIND OF, I say KIND OF because now if you click on the merchants URL in the cert you go to this page http://www.mcafeesecure.com/us/mcafee-certified-sites.jsp

And as you can see smack dab eye level is a box directing your visitors to their shopping portal. Now call me crazy but I find it somewhat deceptive to the consumer as well as the merchant when the link that takes you to the directory says About www.gothamcityonline.com: Yet after clicking on the link you don’t read or see anything about gothamcityonline??????

Here is a letter that a merchant received from McAfee when he contacted them about what they were doing.

Hello *

Yes, you are absolutely correct. When the certification mark is clicked, as with our former Hacker Safe certification, a window comes up that describes the certification. There are two options from that window “merchants” and “consumers”. When a consumer clicks on “consumer”, they are redirected to our McAfee Secure Shopping Portal. McAfee recognizes that the redirection from the certification mark to our McAfee Secure shopping portal is not something that is good for our clients. It is in the queue to be corrected. This could happen tonight or in a few weeks. Once this is corrected, corporate will notify us and in turn I will immediately notify you. We are working to resolve this in a timely fashion.

Thanks for sharing this concern with me. I will be in communication as I learn more. Please let me know if there are any other questions or concerns.

We look forward to earning your business.

Best Wishes

*Names withheld for privacy…

This is the part that truly concerns me. McAfee recognizes that the redirection from the certification mark to our McAfee Secure shopping portal is not something that is good for our clients.

McAfee is a multimillion dollar company and in my opinion they should not be testing their services at the expense of the merchants who are their paying customers. While I appreciate them admitting that the current functionality is not in the best interest of the merchant it further underscores my concern that the new McAfee Secure is not the old Hacker Safe.

OK – a quick aside. As many of you know, I live in New York City and the changes by McAfee remind me a bit of a recent phenomenon in Manhattan real estate. Investors have been buying buildings that have a lot of rent controlled tenants in them, which historically they have avoided because those tenants do not move very often and they pay well below market rates. The new twist is that the investors buy the building and then try to evict as many tenants as possible with costly legal challenges in hopes that they can convert the unit into a market rate dwelling. Basically, they’re trying to work creative angles to improve their ROI.

I truly hope, for the many merchants who are still using McAfee Secure, this is not the mentality that is driving McAfee – “Let’s see how many places we can squeeze from extra revenue from.” As a security company, their judgment is held to a higher standard and running PPC shopping portals (OK, I’m not sure if the portal is pay-per-click but I wouldn’t be surprised) and cutting deals with Yahoo to influence search results by displaying warnings next to organic search traffic (not ppc traffic mind you, because that would discourage merchants from spending ppc dollars) is not what merchants are paying a security company for.

So they have acknoweledged that sending your paid for traffic to their shopping portal was not in the best interest of their customers and if they truly believe that…..I don’t know about you but if when I make a mistake with one of my customers I truly try to make it up to them 😉 refunds anyone?!

With all the marketing dollars that McAfee has why don’t they just market their shopping portal or at the very least have the about Gotham city or any other merchant really take you to a page about the merchant or to their items that they are selling??? Why try to direct traffic away from the same merchant that is paying them, and paying them well for their service. McAfee is a security company right??? Don’t get me wrong the success behind Hacker Safe was their ability to market the security to the consumer and the merchant. That is truly what set them apart and helped them to grow so quickly. I remember a time when the link to that directory was quite valuable. It was a page rank 8, yes, you heard me right-a page rank 8. Now it’s a page rank 1. If that doesn’t say how wrong it is I don’t know what does.

I say to McAfee and it is my suggestion that every other merchant say to McAfee to take the 3 boxes off of the directory if they insist on directing consumers to that page. Some of you may be wondering, how many people really click on that seal, is it really hurting us? The answer is Yes it is hurting you! I happen to know for a fact that when I was there the click through rate of the seal was extremely high!!! That is where all of our requests for information as well as isitsafe requests came from.

So for those of you that are truly looking for the essential eCommerce Security package it is finally available.   I have special pricing but I must keep it private due to channel conflict.  If you would like more information please email me at cresta.pillsbury@gmail.com and I will be happy to assist you.

Just so you all know, this will probably be my last post on McAfee…I have so much other valuable content to bring to you. My time and your time are far to valuable, let’s move on and start improving your business.

Well, that is enough for today. I welcome your comments and feedback. Have a terrific day and Happy eCommerce!!!!

Best Regards,


Hello Everyone,

I have alot more to say on the McAfee subject, just finished writing my post.  Waiting on my graphic designer and it will be ready to publish.  Please come back to read how the story is unfolding.  It is a definite must read 🙂  Have a happy eCommerce day!!!

Best Regards,