Maybe it’s a bad self-image brought on by the hundreds of good companies strewn by the wayside. Or a belief that people will be ready one day to buy more online — just not yet.
Whatever the cause, something is holding e-commerce back from reaching its potential. Short of sending the industry to a Tony Robbins seminar, what can be done to unleash the true power of the e-commerce?
The answer: plenty.
E-tailers have been focusing on the big events and the potential those events promise. For example, the way Web merchants rise to meet the challenges of the holiday shopping season is impressive. But what about the little opportunities that, taken together, are just as big?
If the goal is still to make e-commerce part of the everyday world — something that people take for granted as much as they do the 7-Eleven on the corner and the Starbucks across the street — Web vendors are going to have to blanket the retail world.
Take back-to-school for instance. Already, we’re hearing that e-tailers are busy preparing for the annual holiday shopping season when, lo and behold, another major shopping season appears between here and there.
Is everything possible being done to lure back-to-school shoppers online? I doubt it. Yes, there are limitations: Mom’s going to want to see her second grader in those new pants before she plunks down the virtual cash.
But there are pluses to getting ready for the new school year through online shopping, and e-tailers are not doing enough to make that clear.
How about shopping at night and spending those extra three days on the beach? What about avoiding the long lines at the campus bookstore by ordering texts online? These are the kind of things we need to hear more about.
Then there’s the unexpected tax-rebate season, which we’re entering at the same time.
Thanks to President Bush’s tax cut, millions of taxpayers will have checks show up in their mailboxes starting in the next week or two. What will they do with the money? That remains to be seen, but clearly many people, including the president, hope they’ll rush out and spend at least some of it.
Why shouldn’t they spend it online? More to the point, why shouldnt they already be hearing about the reasons for them to do so?
A quick promotion here, a discount over there. Not the self-defeating price-cutting that paved the way for so many dot-com deaths, but a few, reasonable promotional price cuts and you’d have people thinking twice about where to plunk that rebate check down.
For the medium with one of the speediest methods of communication at its disposal, e-commerce is slow on the uptake.
Think about it. When gas prices shot through the roof this spring, not one of the e-tailers who has its paws on my e-mail addresses bothered to ping me with a note suggesting I keep the car parked and buy my books, music, clothes, kitchen appliances and electronics — you name it — via the Net.
All these little marketing opportunities are small doors being opened just a crack, but enough for smart e-tailers to jump in, blow their trumpets and make some real noise.
Yet e-commerce continues to sit back on its haunches, resting up for the big battles.
Selling Is Believing
Maybe there’s a sense that the noisiest vendors will be the first taken out of the game. Maybe there’s a reluctance to scare customers off. Exactly how much hard-selling to do is a fine line, to be sure.
But a sense of confidence goes a long way. E-commerce has a lot going for it. Believing that is the first step. Only then will others be convinced.
Note: The opinions expressed by our columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the E-Commerce Times or its management.