Ambient Weather began its ecommerce business in 2001 with the goal of providing weather station and environmental monitoring equipment to the niche weather-tracker market. In the years since its launch, the company has grown rapidly, securing a place on the Internet Retailer Top 500 list and the Inc. Magazine 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America list. It has also expanded its offerings into a variety of related categories; AmbientWeather.com now has more than 100,000 different products available through its store.
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Although Ambient Weather first started its web site with a smaller online host, the company switched to Yahoo! Merchant Solutions in 2004, in hopes of creating a more professional-looking store and eliminating downtime. Almost immediately, business doubled. President Edward Edelman explains, "When people look at a Yahoo! site, they know how it fits together and what the cart looks like–and that leads to more trust." Edelman also credits effective page design and optimization for improving the company's rank in search results, and subsequently drawing more visitors to the site.
Because AmbientWeather.com sells tens of thousands of products, it's critical to track each product's popularity among customers. Once top performers are identified, the company can work to ensure that these products are found by customers in the fewest number of clicks. Additionally, the company can optimize other site pages that contain less popular products, so they receive more prominent placement in search results–maximizing sales.
Edelman uses Yahoo! Web Analytics to monitor traffic to the site, visitor entry points and navigation paths (i.e. which web pages people are coming in on and clicking to), customer bounce rate, and most importantly, purchases.
"You're flying blind if you don't have some kind of Web Analytics tool," Edelman says.
"It may seem almost random if you don't have a toolkit that allows you to figure out what people are searching for, what your conversion rate is, and whether pay-for-placement advertising is converting to actual dollars."
By tracking this kind of information, Edelman can identify fluctuations in visits and sales, and optimize his store, inventory, and marketing accordingly.
Ambient Weather operates so efficiently, it requires only an eight-man team to run the $8.6 million business. Edelman says automation and tools available through Yahoo! have helped make that possible.
Because the ecommerce site has experienced so much success within certain categories, Edelman is planning to launch an entirely new sister web site to better focus on associated products. Eventually, he hopes to use Yahoo! Merchant Solutions to create a number of niche web sites targeted at different markets and focused on different product categories.
Yahoo! is well-supported and easy-to-use. There are really a few things on the Internet that drive sales: trust, price, and placement in organic search results. With Yahoo!, you really get all three.– Edward Edelman, President, Ambient Weather
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