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DEVELOPER SPOTLIGHT: Americaneagle.com, Inc - “Garret Popcorn Shops” E-Commerce Web Site.

First and foremost, the Horizon Interactive Awards would like to congratulate Americaneagle.com, Inc. on their 2011 Best of Category win with the E-Commerce entry “Garret Popcorn Shops.”  In this developer spotlight, we will speak with Tony Svanascini to learn more about the project and the producers of this award winning site.

Tony, thank you for taking the time to talk with us!

TONY: Thanks, we appreciate that you thought of us!

HIA: So tell us a little about your company.  Specifically, what types of work you regularly produce, industries, solutions, who is involved, and how you got into the business:

TONY: Americaneagle.com is a one stop shop for the digital needs of businesses and organizations in all kinds of industries. We provide high level consultative services, website design and development, as well as mobile development, including apps. We also host and maintain the sites we build, with a strong customer support team that services our clients. Most of the work is done here at our headquarters in Chicago, with satellite offices from New York to L.A. We got into the business in 1995 and were one of the first web design companies in the country.  We’ve grown to over 200 full-time professionals.

HIA: Can you give us a background of the project, “Garret Popcorn Shops,” and tell us a little about the overall objectives, creative inspiration, etc.

TONY: Garrett Popcorn is a legendary popcorn shop that has been around for 60 years selling the delicious treat. The award-winning Garrett Popcorn website features an interactive, dynamic Tin Builder Application that allows Garrett Popcorn customers to personalize their tin. The application walks the user through each step, from tin color and design to dollar amount, to the size and flavor(s) desired, all the way through check-out. It also enables customers to ship a single order or send to multiple recipients.

HIA: Based on the project objectives, was it successful and why?

TONY: It’s been a great success as Garrett has increased their online sales due to the ease in which people can buy their popcorn, not only for themselves but as a gift for friends and family as well.  Garrett’s reputation has always been one of high quality.  They are also known for people lining up outside of their stores to buy their popcorn!

HIA: It has been projected that E-Commerce sales will increase to over $250 Billion in 2013.  What trends do you think are happening to make this number continue to climb.  Are there new platforms?  Less barrier to entry?  More customers online?  Etc.

TONY: It’s only going to increase. Each year, the internet gets faster and allows you to do many things online that you weren’t able to do in the past. In addition, with so many different online devices in which to purchase products coming out each year, there is no where for the numbers to go but up.  The quality of the web experience is only making this easier.  We also believe that as the younger generations keep maturing, the percentage of total purchases on the web will increase because they are so used to living in an on-line world.

HIA: Talk about what you think makes an effective e-commerce site. Are there important features, processes etc. that go into a great e-commerce strategy?

TONY: The number one most important factor in the success of an e-commerce site is to make it EASY for your customers to buy from your website. Effective and intuitive navigation is crucial. Features such as complementary products and having a robust, dynamic email marketing tool to keep in touch with customers is critical as well. It’s also important to give the customer the right tools on the back end so they can easily update the site and integrate the site with other processes as well as providing useful reporting information on sales. Having a safe, secure hosting environment is another key.  Additionally, it is important to make sure that the website understands its audience.  While this sounds obvious, many merchants make fundamental mistakes where they assume that their audience already knows their products.  It is extremely important to guide your users through your site so that they can easily find what they’re looking for, and have strong search and in some cases, guided navigation.

HIA: So, where do you/your team turn for inspiration?

TONY:   Our people have an incredible passion for the internet.  We are constantly pushing the envelope with everything we do.  We believe that Garrett Popcorn really illustrates this point.  One of the nice things about the internet is that we can easily visit other great websites and see what other people are doing, this helps as well.  Additionally, because we do so many different types of websites in so many industries, we are able to take great ideas from one industry, such as professional sports, and transcend it into an e-commerce site.  There is a lot of cross-pollination that allows us to get inspiration for our clients.

HIA: What does it mean to win the Horizon Interactive Award?

TONY: It’s such an honor, and it’s truly a testament to all of the hard-work that was put into every aspect of the site by Americaneagle.com team members, as well as from the collaboration from our clients.

HIA:  Do you have anything else you would like to add to our interview?

TONY: I would like to thank Garrett Popcorn as well as they’ve been a great “partner” throughout the entire process and they continue to be a great customer to this day.

Thank you again for taking the time to be a part of our developer spotlight.  We have enjoyed sharing more information about the great work you all produce and look forward to having you back in the 2012 competition. Best of luck to you now and down the road!