I entered the URLs of the top one hundred and fifty online businesses in the Internet Retailer Top 500 into my Firefox browser. Of these one hundred and fifty leading online retailers, a grand total of four (4) lit up the URL line with the RSS symbol.
Of the four retailers, one really takes advantage of the technology. Apple does a spectacular job of allowing customers to pull a myriad of information about the company into their browser. One of the stories in their feed talks about podcasting. This article is actually a link to a story in the press about Apple and Microsoft's Zune product. In this article, Apple takes you to PC Magazine to read a product review. These are good examples of using RSS technology to link internal information, articles in the press, and product reviews. All of this technology is close to free --- somebody has to identify the material, and get it into the feed. The customer just sits at home or work, using Bloglines or Google Reader to read the information anytime the marketer wishes to make it available.
Three other retailers use RSS feeds to directly sell featured merchandise to the customer.
Newegg features many different products in their feeds. For instance, this article features a ViewSonic monitor. Their feed offers numerous product selections.
Zappos and their marketers continue to outpace their online and multichannel competition. Within their feed, you can see featured merchandise, like this Michael Kors Handbag for $371.
Buy.com also features an assortment of merchandise in their RSS feed. Here is a Crucial 1GB CompactFlash card for $30.
Apple, Newegg, Zappos and Buy.com --- four out of one-hundred and fifty in the Internet Retailer Top 500 who are taking the time to experiment with different ways to market merchandise via RSS feeds. Kudos to each of them for leveraging this inexpensive marketing channel.