ecommerce

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“Because we’re selling millions of set top boxes already, we hear what’s working and we hear what’s not working,”  said Peter Larsen, Amazon VP yesterday during his presentation of the Fire TV set top box.

No one has to tell you Jeff Bezos is smart and that Amazon is juggernaut to end all juggernauts, but this quote points to a market research revenue stream that will be a new business for Amazon. One smart big-data nerd with some UI chops is going to create an algo and process to tap, parse and quantify sales, comments, and loyalty behavior that few, if any, companies can match. And it will happen at Amazon.

Have you ever tried to purchase data from IRI, Mintel or Euromonitor?  It like ten grand.  Since web companies like to give it away, why not do so with market research? There are crazy amounts of data available to Amazon and SMBs are data-starved. I was kidding about giving it away, but only a little.  With a low price point for qual and quant, Amazon can build $100M business in 12 months. And it will grow and grow.

Remember when Sabre (American Airline’s ticketing system) became more profitable than their fannies in seats business? Of course you don’t.

This will take some work, however. Have you ever sold consumer products on Amazon’s and been inside its data portal?  Oy. OY.  It’s like Excel clones from another planet. Think one man with one pick looking at the side of an ore mountain. Even so, the data opportunity is impressive. Especially aggregated category data.

Data waiting to be mined has got to be Amazon’s next business. Fergus O’Daly, a smart mentor of mine, once said about marketing “nothing happens until somebody buys something.” There’s a whole lot of that going on at Amazon. Peace.

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The second screen is a fundie of Twitch Point Planning and driver of moving a consumer closer to a sale. The ability to stall or hold the first screen, while pursuing the second, is part of Twitch Point Planning’s “understand” modus. So if one is reading a Kindle and twitches to a Mac or PC for a deeper dive into a topic, that person will likely return to the Kindle after sating their curiosity. Expected behavior. But marketers want a twitch or twitches to end in a purchase or transaction (read: sale, appointment, sign-up), not a quick return to the first screen. 

Sometimes a twitch might not be to another device, it might result in a car or bike ride to the store.  “Damn, I’m going to buy Europe ’72, by the Dead or a Cuban sandwich at Lenny’s.” But for the most part, the richest non-retail selling that will occur will happen on a company website. The last mile, as it were. The product or service website should provide a contextual, informational, aspirational multimedia expression of a product’s use and value. This is less likely to happen on a smartie than a tablet or computer.

As a rule (and rules have many exceptions) a good twitch point plan seeks to close that first screen and commit to the second. Or third. Bookmarking or Digging a site, while watching TV is not as good as clicking on the shopping cart.

It’s all about the pathways and how one uses them. Peace.   

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Who are experts in ecommerce?  Those people involved in “social CRM” or “big data,” two topics covered in Charlene Li’s thoughtful post this morning? Sure.  But who else?  Who else sees how ecommerce is meted out across the country every day?  Who are tested for their memories and see patterns like few others?  Who are in touch with grass roots buyers and sellers every day – not retail goods…ecommerce goods? FedEx, UPS  and US ostal carriers, that’s who. 

Massifying insights is important for brand planners, but so are one-on-one insights.  And in for ecommerce, I’d absolutely love to study letter and package carriers for a while to see what they know about ecommerce.  Not just on deliveries from Amazon but from all online sellers. The people who deliver the fruits of ecommerce, the fruit pickers as it were, process a wealth of information about this growing marketing practice. If you are worried about privacy, don’t worry about Facebook, it’s your letter and package carriers you need to care about. Hee hee.

So marketeers, if you are involved in ecomm, get your focus group hats on. Stop, interviewing house-husbands and start feeding M&Ms to the UPS guy and the FedEx girl. Puh-eace!  

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Look, I’m no genius.  When I predict things like the trivestiture of Google (gonna happen) or that Best Buy will suffer at the hands of its current CMO  — predicted at the pinnacle of his celebrity – it was just simple brand and marketing logic. Larry Downes’ article in Forbes, on the other hand, is a little bit of a genius. Entitled “Why Best Buy is going out of business…gradually” it is beautifully organized, a story well-told, and emotionally charged. It’s hard to read it without being convinced.  (That said, I don’t agree Best Buy is going down, but the case is compelling.)

What I found striking in Mr. Downes’ article was a not-so-new Web phenomenon that occurred after Thanksgiving when Best Buy could not fulfill some online orders. A situation. Here’s the missive they sent to customers:  

 “Due to overwhelming demand of hot product offerings on BestBuy.com during the November and December time period, we have encountered a situation that has affected redemption of some of our customers’ online orders.”

I was at a start-up not too long ago with some under-cooked technology that fried the night of Beta release.  We were a media darling at the time. The response of our CTO was “Due to extraordinary demand, the servers went down and…”  Turning negatives in to positives might have worked in 2007 but not in 2011.

No doubt ecommerce has reshuffled the 4Ps. Some might argue Ps have been removed. Others might suggest Ps have been added. I’m sticking with 4. Get them all right — you will still encounter situations but you’ll be prepared to deal. Peace!

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