Location Critical to Online Success

Nov 22, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

The term ‘location, location, location’ is taking on a whole new meaning online as retailers look to drive sales by making their products available for consumers, not only on their own Web site, but through a host of partner channels such as Amazon.com or portals such as Yahoo, MSN, etc.

Eric Best, founder and chief executive officer of the online marketplace services provider Mercent wrote on CRMGuru.com, “An expansion is definitely occurring in the way that brands and products are reaching consumers — not just in the number of channels, but in the number of value-added intermediaries involved in each promotion or transaction. Retailers, catalogers, and direct marketers are connecting with customers where they shop and buy through partner-enabled channels, combining services from merchandisers such as Amazon.com, advertising portals and affiliate networks.”

Mr. Best uses the phrase “distributed merchandising networks” to describe these channels.

“Distributed merchandising networks imply a growing distance between the customer point of sale and the seller, and an increase in the number of intermediaries involved in merchandising and selling,” he wrote. “The ability to manage these intermediaries becomes a key driver of sales performance, brand stewardship and customer experience.”

Through his company’s Mercent Commerce System, multi-channel retailers are able to reach shoppers on multiple partner sites: Amazon.com, AOL inStore, BizRate.com, Froogle, MSN Shopping, mySimon, NexTag, PriceGrabber.com, Shopping.com, and Yahoo! Shopping.

Glen Hamilton, director of ecommerce at Car Toys, Inc., which operates 58 stores in Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Texas and uses the Mercent Commerce System told Chain Store Age that working with partners through distributed merchandising networks isn’t “just sending information to them and getting it back. We have to know if they received it and vice versa, and if they didn’t receive it, what happened? There are a lot of data elements that you need to keep track of and make sure are properly communicated.”

Moderator’s Comment: Has participating in so-called “distributed merchandising networks” become a requirement for
success in online retailing today?

Car Toys’ Hamilton thinks so. He told Chain Store Age, “It has been a key factor in our ability to accelerate our rapid growth.”
George Anderson – Moderator

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