Ajax & Ecommerce: SuperShoes.com

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Online footwear retailer Supershoes.com will unveil a new site based on Ajax technology. Ajax, an acronym for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, is noted for achieving increased responsiveness and interactivity of web pages by exchanging small amounts of data with the server "behind the scenes" so that the entire web page does not have to be reloaded each time the user performs an action.

Ajax could provide users of SuperShoes.com visitors a more streamlined experience. Rather than moving from page to page, Ajax-enabled pages change around the user, based on the actions they take. Citing the website’s new One Page Checkout, Continuously Viewable Shopping Cart and improved sorting functions to aid shoppers in finding what they want quicker, Frank Malsbenden, VP and General Manager describes the relaunch as “the best application of Ajax in an ecommerce environment on the web.”

The site’s new One Page Checkout allows customers to complete each stage of the checkout process from a single webpage: the page works like an accordion, unveiling each subsequent step in process when the step before it is complete. The process greatly simplifies the experience for the user making checkout quicker, more seamless and allowing the shopper to view all the information she has input on one page or to toggle back and forth between checkout steps without losing any information already inputted. Ajax was also leveraged to offer new dynamic sorting functionality. Now customers can sort product by gender, brand, category, color and price and watch the page dynamically update before their eyes, rather than being shuffled to another page to view the sort results.

Citing the level of difficulty in applying Ajax specifically, Malsbenden explains “despite the technological obstacles you encounter when using a new technology, our belief is that if it greatly enhances the customer experience it is our responsibility to overcome them.” Indeed, Supershoes.com had to work closely with service provider More Visibility to ensure their search engine optimization would not suffer as a result of using Ajax. While search engines recognize distinct urls to calculate the relevance of a site based on the searchers’ terms, and Ajax operates by reducing the number pages (and hence urls) in a given site, there is a risk of losing search engine placement that would normally be attained through redundancy of terms.

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