At the recent NEMOA conference, David Solomon, head of Lazard Middle Market’s Specialty Retail and Direct marketing Group, gave an excellent presentation on Creating Value in the New Economy. He emphasized how dramatically consumers’ decision-making processes have changed in recent years, and how successful merchants must adapt their marketing strategies as a result. Among his key points:
• Catalogs used to be an excellent tool for locating hard-to-find products. Thanks to the Internet, most products aren’t hard to find any more. Catalogers need to develop a new competitive advantage.
• Approximately 40% of all buying decisions involve Internet research, regardless of whether the purchase is made on the web on not. Buyers now do exhaustive research on product features, quality, price, and the reputation of the seller.
• It only makes sense to do everything possible to help prospects reach a buying decision by providing the research tools they need on your site. This can take many forms, such as customer reviews, discussion boards, blogs, how-to articles and videos. Solomon lauded scrapbooking site www.TwoPeasInABucket.com as a superb example of an information-rich site.
Solomon went on to chide NEMOA attendees for how far they have to go to provide decision-making and information-sharing tools on their site. His review of NEMOA attendees’ sites that sold product turned up only 32% with significant content … 28% with customer reviews … 17% with a blog … and none with a customer forum. There’s a lot of opportunity out there ready for the taking!