Internet: 27Jan1999

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Internet Story: 27 Jan 1999

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In this issue:

New for the wired mother-to-be

Trust me.  I'm not a doctor!

Loyalty on the Web

E-commerce at WH Smiths

Maybe not so far-fetched!


In-Utero TV

For Mother-to-be   You thought you'd seen everything?  Well, bet you haven't see the Sony Utertron 9000 :-)  I couldn't resist putting this item in today.  In The Onion, the web's online version of the National Enquirer (but not associated with it) we have an article on the worlds first in-utero TV.   "The Utertron 9000, touted as the first prenatelevision technology ever developed, features micro-miniature multi-speaker SurrounSound, HDTV compatibility and a luxurious one and one-sixteenth-inch screen. ...developing fetuses everywhere will soon be able to enjoy the same high-quality entertainment programming that, until now, has only been available to the post-born."

"Sitting around for all those months with nothing to do, just waiting to be born, can get pretty boring," said expectant mother Therese Doumanian, who has ordered a Utertron 9000 for her unborn child. "I sure wish I had one of those when I was developing."

You have to laugh don't you :-)  Go check out the article.

(Disclaimer: "The Onion® is not intended for readers under 18 years of age."   Though there's nothing obscene or distasteful about most of it's content.)


Trust me.  I'm NOT a doctor  Two interesting studies have emerged in the last day or two about why people re-visit web sites.   The first (The eCommerce Trust Study), by Cheskin Research looked at, what design and other elements of a Web site 'communicate' a sense of trust to users.   Here are the highlights:

  1. Trustworthiness is a Function of Time and Specific Formal Characteristics of Sites
  2. In order for trust to occur, individuals first rely on certain forms being followed.   Over time, reliance on these forms gives way to a reliance on experience.   Such experience is a necessity for true trust to develop.

  3. Six Fundamental "Forms" Communicate Trustworthiness
  4. Brand, navigation, fulfillment, presentation, up-to-date technology and the logos of security-guaranteeing firms constitute the essential formal characteristics of Web sites that communicate trustworthiness to visitors.  These six forms, in turn, can be divided into a total of 28 components that can be used to communicate trustworthiness.

  5. E-Commerce Trust Begins in Chaos and Ends in Trustworthiness
  6. Consumers see the world of the Web as one of chaos, offering both possibilities and threats.  Only after they believe they have secured control over their own personal data within the system, are they willing to begin to try out e-commerce.  While trust develops over time, communicating trustworthiness must occur as soon as interaction with a site begins.

  7. Effective Navigation is Generally a Precondition to Communicating E-Commerce Trust and the Perception that Sites Meet Consumer Needs…
  8. Effective navigation is a necessary pre-condition to successfully communicating the trustworthiness of a site.  Having a well-known brand is also tremendously important.   Generally speaking, effective navigation combined with a well-known brand is the best way of communicating trustworthiness.  Combining strong navigation with effective fulfillment can also achieve this.

    … and a Lesser-Known Brand Must Have Quality Navigation and Fulfillment to Compete

    For lesser-known brands, navigation of and fulfillment from their Web site play significant roles in establishing trust. Any new Web-based brand MUST build in excellent navigation and fulfillment if it is to be trusted.

  9. Web-Based Seals of Approval Matter More than Credit Card Brands in Communicating Trustworthiness…
  10. The presence of credit card symbols do little to communicate trustworthiness, even though they’re universally recognized by consumers.  In contrast, Web-based "security brand" seals of approval, such as VeriSign, when recognized, DO communicate trustworthiness.  Given the choice, smart Web retailers will place security brand logos on their sites.

    …but Their Technology Matters Even More

    On the other hand, consumers want to see that specific security brands use technologies understood to be important to security, such as encryption.  Savvy security brands will work to equate their brands with such technologies, and explicitly mention their use of these technologies.

  11. The Most Trusted Web Brands Are Well-Known Brands…
  12. Seven of the 12 most trusted brand names in e-commerce originated on the Web.   Regardless of where a brand established itself, however, one key aspect of establishing trust with consumers is the reputation of a brand, together, in many cases, with personal experience.

    … and the Least-Trusted Sites Aren’t Well-Known

    All of the least-trusted sites on the Web originated there.  Virtually none are well-known, however.  Generally speaking, a site that has never been visited and isn’t well-known is unlikely to be a trusted site.

  13. Trustworthiness Isn’t the Most Important Attribute a Site Can Possess, It’s Still Fundamental
  14. While trustworthiness matters, it’s not necessarily the key attribute of a brand in cyberspace.  Strong fulfillment and navigation are key, independent of trust issues.  In addition, overall value, selection and lower cost all can be more important.  Trustworthiness, however, is often communicated when other fundamental needs are met, such as effective fulfillment.   Consequently, taking steps that communicate trustworthiness simultaneously satisfies many of the other needs expressed by consumers.

  15. Effective Navigation Key to Meeting Needs
  16. Beyond the question of communicating trustworthiness, consumers rely on the quality of navigation, more so than other components, to tell them if a site is likely to meet their needs.

  17. Clearly-Stated Policies, Limited Information Requests and Guarantees Are Keys to Future Growth
  18. To maximize growth, brands focusing on e-commerce need to address concerns about security and privacy.  Some things that an e-commerce site can do to address security and privacy concerns are:

    bulletClearly state their policies on security and encryption;
    bulletAsk for only necessary information;
    bulletProvide shipping and return guarantees; and
    bulletProvide good communication with consumers.
  19. Consumers Expect the Future of E-Commerce to be Like the Present
  20. Generally speaking, consumers expect that they’ll be engaging in e-commerce in much the same ways they are today — buying books, CDs and software.  Some product categories, such as jewelry and groceries, are expected to do poorly on the Web.

  21. Brand Now Matters More than Medium
  22. Seven of the 12 most trusted sites originated on the Web and have no presence outside of it.  In addition, 3 of the five dirt-world sites most trusted by consumers aren’t seen as particularly appealing sites from which to purchase.

    In addition, some Web-based brands, such as, have established brands with more desirable attributes than their traditional retail competitors.  Increasingly, these Web-based brands could snare a significant market share if they choose to open traditional retail outlets.  Overall, we found that brand attributes increasingly matter more than the medium in which they are established.  This suggests that traditional retailers need to see Web retailers as a far more dangerous threat than they have previously.


...but I am a loyal supporter   The second report by the Forrester Research found four important reasons for people to return to a web site.

  1. High Quality Content (75%)
  2. Ease of Use (66%)
  3. Quick to Download (58%)
  4. Updated Frequently (54%)

All other factors in the study, like Coupons, Incentives, favorite brands, bleeding-edge technology, games, purchasing capability, customizable content, chat rooms, etc., all ranked significantly lower (best was 14%).

We certainly try at Pendle.Net to aim for these first 4!  Progress may be slow sometimes but we will get there!  If you know of any way we can do this better please don't hesitate to contact us.


WH Smiths E-commerce Boost   Figures for e-commerce at WH Smiths look good.  Sales through its Internet Bookshop subsidiary jumped by 70% before Christmas.  Total sales through the Internet business have reached £1.7m since September 1 and the growth is accelerating.   December orders soared by 170%.  See BBC article.


And Finally...  Maybe that in-utero TV is not too far off beam.  Today MicroTune, Inc. a company in Texas, announced the MicroTuner2000 - "tuner on a chip".  It's essentially almost all of a Digital TV on a small chip (14mm X 14mm).  Expected cost, about $19.95 in quantity.


Andrew Stringer, © Pendle.Net Ltd, 1999


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