Direct-to-Customer Commerce

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Strategic insights into the direct commerce industry, including ecommerce, direct marketing and related fields

Target announces impending divorce from Amazon

Here’s a link to the story in DM News.

This is just another example of the maturing nature of the ecommerce space.  No longer does Target need Amazon to attract “eyeballs” of customers.  Frankly, it’s long past due, and I suspect it’s happening now, only because their contract is probably expiring.

On top of everything else,  when you do business with Amazon, you have to evaluate the relative value of access to their customers to the relative cost of Amazon having all your customers.  Which has more value to your business.

My personal view is there is a case to be made that Amazon’s reason to exist is narrowing.  Amazon is best at selling commodities to large numbers of consumers.  If you’re not selling commodities, or your strategy is to differentiate your business from your competitors, then Amazon is not the place for you to be.  And there aren’t a lot of businesses who fit that description.

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Filed under: Direct Commerce, News, Opinion, ,

Shipping Options for Residential Deliveries

UPS and FedEx are providing new options for residential deliveries.  Here’s the complete story in Multichannel Merchant.

The real news here is that UPS is offering it’s “Basic” service to a broader range of shippers, with much lower volumes.  Up until recently, UPS only offered this service to very large volume shippers, and as they usually do, offered only to clients who also had large volumes of commercial shipments as well.

This simply reinforces the conclusion that there is continuing pressure to find lower cost shipping solutions, especially in the face of increasing rates.  And, the USPS remains the lowest cost solution for “the last mile.”

For some time, it’s been the conventional wisdom that the USPS’ most profitable segment was parcel delivery, but the USPS does not seem to have been able to fully leverage that fact in their own marketing.  Thus, the recent USPS campaign around Priority Mail flat rate shipping.  Which is probably the most sensible advertising campaign the USPS has ever executed — good for them.

Good low cost shipping options remain an important component of direct commerce strategies — driven largely by the near universal attractiveness of free shipping offers.

Filed under: News, Opinion, , , , , , ,

Are electronic catalogs an alternative to paper catalogs?

Well, frankly, I don’t know the answer to that.  But as an avid direct marketing buyer, I know I’d rather get an electronic catalog than the collection of paper catalogs I get.  And it’s not because I’m trying to save the trees.  The trees (in reality) don’t need saving.  There are more trees in North America today than there were in 1776.

Web sites are for buying.

Catalogs are for shopping.

I’ve migrated from paper trade magazines to almost all digital trade magazines.  Why not catalogs as well?

Add functionality that let’s me click on any item in the e-catalog to add it to the order form.  Or, add it to my wish list.  Or add it to my gift list.

Like most Lands End buyers, for a long time, I got a catalog every week.  Now, I get an email every day and a catalog only once per quarter or so.  I don’t think I’ve bought as much from Lands End as I used to.  I like to browse thru catalogs — I find things I had not previously thought of buying.  Sure when I need a new pair of jeans, I go to Lands End and buy them.  But there is more that I might buy, if I ran across them in a catalog.

Do you ever wonder if the staff at the largest direct marketing companies are direct marketing buyers?  I kind of doubt it because I feel like they miss what it’s like to be a customer.  And that’s why we don’t have very many electronic catalogs yet.

Maybe soon.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, Opinion, , , , ,

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