Internet Marketing - a Practical Approach
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Digital Marketing: a Practical Approach

CHAPTER 4 : THE B2C ONLINE PRESENCE

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4.1     INTRODUCTION

e-Marketplaces Although the term was originally used as a generic description for any kind of marketplace that exists online, e-marketplaces were originally normally associated with B2B trading in specific markets - hence I cover them in chapter 5.5. However, it is now becoming common practice to refer to websites such as eBay, Amazon, Overstock.com and Buy.com as e-marketplaces, albeit sometimes with the prefix 'B2C'. This is also relevent in this chapter where I suggest that such sites are a good outlet for online sellers of niche products.

The importance of such B2C e-marketplaces is emphasized by research from ChannelAdvisor* who found that when online consumers are browsing for product ideas almost half [45%] begin their search on a 'marketplace' - with search engines being second start-point at 41%. Note that I would point out that if customers know what they want, they would be more likely to put the product/brand into a search engine rather than trawling an e-marketplace for ideas. *ChannelAdvisor (2009) Savvy Consumers Using a Wider Set of Online Destinations to Find the Best Deals ChannelAdvisor.co.uk.

Here is a clip from the BBC's 'click' programme - Online shops look to prosper - I have included in the intro as it addresses several subjects in this chapter, including; online security, eyetracking, Ocado and fulfilment. The concept of the 'virtual shop' has been around for a decade or more - but none of the prototypes has moved into mainstream use.

Although students might find some of the subjects in this book complex [read: hard], in reality I am only introducing the basics of those subjects. Don't believe me? Take a look at this list of Internet retailer services to see just how specialised some aspects of online marketing can be.

Don't forget there are also website development sections on my own website in tips, hints and advice and interesting articles.


4.2     NICHE MARKETS

mini case *pg 125* The long tail of online business: Read my review.

In the text I say that 'though not as popular in the UK, in America a number of high street brands use eBay (or similar) auctions to sell off goods that might be end-of-range, unpopular sizes or colours or simply over-stocks' - also worth mentioning is that in Europe, auctions sites are used by travel companies to dispose of unsold holidays - and at the time of writing (Feb 09) eBay is experimenting with software (in Germany) that allows users to build their own holiday from ads on the site (eg flight, hotel, car hire) before bidding on the bundle.

Whilst the likes of eBay is one option for niche sellers, there are other specialist sites that act as distributors for goods - not on the high street is one.

Don't forget there are also website development sections on my own website in tips, hints and advice and interesting articles.


4.3     THE RETAIL WEBSITE

In the book I mention Moe and Fader's four types of online shopping visits. 10 Online Shopping Personality Traits looks at the same subject, but from a different perspective.

go online *pg 127* e-tail - or e-commerce? See my comments on the subject - e-commerce, e-business, e-marketing, internet marketing - what are they?

Wikipedia's definition of the 80/20 rule.

Although this article is predominently about SEO, it is also a very good example of how to develop the content of a product page.

Becoming more common on clothes websites are virtual models - where the user can see the clothes displayed on a 'model' that has the same proportions as themselves. An example is H & M - where you can even upload photos so the model has your face!

More from ChannelAdisor, this time - online features that enhance the shopping experience.

In this section of the book I say that etail sites must include 'calls to action'. E-commerce calls to action: 10 best practice tips. Has some examples [note: a B2B lead generation site also needs prominent calls to action].

mini case *pg 132* Walking the walk on in-site search: Whilst research suggest that customers that favour in in-site search engines and those who do not use them is evenly split, my argument for not doing so [or at least considering the issue carefully installing one] dates back to my time in retail. Didn't you even wonder why the most frequently purchased goods [milk, bread] are always at the back of the supermarket? Yes, you have to walk past - and be tempted by - all those other products on the way in and back to the checkout. It is the same principle for using a good navigation system on your website.

There is nothing really new in Top 10 Things Customers Expect from Your Online Store but it is a good guide to the basic issues [did I cover all of these in the book?]. Similarly - and don't be thrown by the title - 9 women x 9 hours = 9 usability insights includes some basic stuff on website as well e-tail site design which, hopefully, I addressed in the book.


4.4     THE CHECK OUT PROCESS

A PayPal survey found that the high shipping fees are the number one reason for users abandoning a shopping cart before completing a purchase.

Here's some good tips on what not to do in your website's checkout process - Losing Customers At The Register: 12 Checkout Blunders

Here's a couple more articles on abandoned shopping carts. The first - The Sad Tale of Abandoned Shopping Carts - is about why purchases are not completed, and this one - 87% of shoppers abandon shopping baskets, but 75% plan to return - looks at what happens after a basket is abandoned.

Something that should be in this chapter but I neglected is the issue of making customers register on a website before they can make a purchase, the significants points are included in How to reduce checkout abandonment and increase customer registrations.


4.5     FULFILMENT

latest update I say in the book that a number of schemes for home delivery have come and gone over the years, indeed I linked to two here - and both linked-to sites have disappeared [Aldi and DHL join up and home delivery network (HDNL) and PayPoint announce a joint venture] and here are a couple more First new ByBox locker banks open in 2m pound expansion and CollectPlus signs its 5,000th store.

Mini-stat - Delivery failure is a is a significant issue, says research.

For an example of good practice after the order is placed, take a look at this example from Tesco Direct.

I could have put How to Offer Free Shipping without Going Broke in any one of a number of sections - or maybe it has no connection to the book at all - after all, it's really about a business decision. However, I think the cost of shipping - to both the seller and the buyer - is an aspect of fulfilment.


4.6     COMPARISON SHOPPING ENGINES

For a good background to how comparison sites fit into retail marketing - in this instance, insurance - read this interview

Although this article - Off The Radar: Why Airlines On Travel Search Engines Are Going Missing - uses different terms, it is about comparison engines. It concentrates on flights in the USA, but the same situation is arising in numerous industries around the globe - and so offers a good insight into the model and concept.


4.7     BRICKS AND CLICKS - INTEGRATED RETAILING

As well as my own views on the subject (see online retailing), new statistics on the use of online shopping crop up all the time, here are a few: Jan 2009 - and two-thirds of SME retailers still lack ecommerce which might not be a good idea given these Seven multichannel retail success stories from September 2010.

In the text I hi-light Argos as effective practitioners of multi-channel retailing - and they continue to be innovative in the practice, see Argos customers can now find clearance bargains by postcode, Argos releases Check & Reserve iPhone app and Argos trials a new kind of multichannel delivery.

The essence of multi-channel retailing is that each element must complement - not conflict with - each other. This research shows that in a bricks-and-clicks environment, the bricks element has a significant impact on online sales. See Stores are still the key driver of customer satisfaction in multi-channel retailing. And don't forget that the web should be made available in-store - for both customers and staff - see Multichannel Retailers Bring Web into Store - this is offered as a solution to the problem of losing customers when physical stores are out of stock, see Consumers continue to lack loyalty when multi-channel shopping.

Mini-stat - retail buyer behaviour.

Mini-stat - Although I could have included these stats from ATG in the buyer behaviour section, they are specific to retailing.

Although I disagree with the title of this article [I think it is about retailing, not marketing] its contents are interesting - see: Could Your Multichannel Marketing Do More?.

Comet's content manager, Robbie Tutt - in an interview with e-consultancy (in August 2008) - suggests around half of the electrical retailer's online customers electing to take the 'collect in store' option. The Q&A interview can be found here.

In September 2009 Argos announced that its 'Check & Reserve' service had grown by 50% in the summer quarter, with online accounting for 28% of total sales in the same period more and by October 2010 Multichannel topped 40% of their total sales.

Sears were the original distance-sellers, now they are planning order online - and collect at the drive-through.

Although the author of John Lewis launches new multichannel-focused store format seems to forget that similar operations exist in the USA, this and House of Fraser set to unveil 'entirely new' store aer an interesting development in that physical stores are being created as part of a multi-channel strategy.

Too many people make the mistake of thinking that integrated retailing is all about online purchasing - but they are wrong. The retail website provides far more to the potential customer than just being a buying-channel, and the multi-channel retailer has to use that site as more than a selling point. For some stats on why folk visit retail websites, take a look at Lower satisfaction further down the purchase funnel.

Is this the shape of shopping in the future? M&S brings digital to the shop floor.

Bringing together academic vigour and commercial common sense is tricky - and rare, but this article - the Multichannel Swap Shop manages to do so. It should be compulsory reading for any manager involved in any multichannel operation - not least that it takes the customers' perspective - its sub-title sums it up: Exploring the Behaviour of the Multitasking, Multicultural, Multichannel Customer.

mini case *pg 150* Catalogue retailer transfers experience online: the title of this article says it all - Multichannel accounts for 43% of Argos sales.


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