Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I'm at eTail in DC and will be posting notes from some of the sessions:
First up,

Tony Hsieh - CEO - from yesterday - they're slowly moving into other areas, figuring out the model.
They didn't start out day 1 with FedEx overnight shipping for orders and returns, they gradually got there, putting marketing funds into it.
Ten thoughts:
#1 Ecommerce business is built on repeat customers
#2 Word of mouth really works online
#3 Don't compete on price - $10 off customers not loyal
#4 Make sure inventory is 100% accurate
#5 Centrally locate your distribution - KY is good
#6 Customer service is an investment
#7 Start Small. Stay focused.
#8 Don't be secretive, don't worry about competitors
#9 You need to actively manage your company culture
#10 Be wary of so called experts

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Friday, August 03, 2007

I'm attending the eTail conference in DC next week. I'm looking forward to seeing Steven Johnson, who wrote "Everything Bad Is Good For You". There's also a panel on affiliate relationships that looks like it should be excellent, with some good speakers, like John Lucey from Brookstone, and Veronica Katz-Smith from David's Bridal.

On the downside, apparently WBR, which puts on the show, has given vendors a list of attendees. This has resulted in dozens of phone calls and emails. The folks who manage to email me have clearly done some research (my contact info isn't that hard to find online), as many of the phone calls have asked for my email, indicating they hadn't gotten it on their list. Some of the outreach is genuinely interesting (we have an application to manage search marketing that saved 3 Fortune 500 retailers 13% in last Q4) or quirky (our CEO lives in Napa Valley, and if you come to our dinner, you'll enjoy a 93 point, Robert Parker rated wine that has been aging in his wine cellar).

There have been a few vendors, however, who have clearly hired an outbound telemarketing firm, with minimal knowledge of the product. The typical call of this variety has been along the lines of "Hi..I'm with Company Y, we provide Ecommerce Solutions... Do you use ecommerce solutions? [Why yes, yes we do. We run an online store. We've probably got one of those in the back room]. If you could just answer this list of questions, including some highly proprietary metrics, we'd be thrilled to have one of our salespeople prepare some information for you, to give you when you stop by the booth. I'd bet the response rate is pretty low on that tactic.

If I'm unavailable, several people have decided that if they can't get me on the phone, they'll leave their entire script on my voicemail, ensuring that even if I am interested, it's going to be inconvenient to get to the phone number.

I'll post next week on how the conference itself is :)

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