April 13, 2009

Bricks And Clicks And Multichannel Experiences

I'm looking for feedback. Based on what I've read on Twitter, the 2% of America that uses the micro-blogging service that will become the greatest marketing tool of all time until everybody switches to yet another platform in 2010 have strong opinions on these topics. What do you think?

Issue #1: Is it acceptable for a big-box retailer to offer merchandise online that is not available in stores?

Issue #2: Is it acceptable for an online merchant to require you to place an item in the shopping cart in order to find out what the price of the item is?

Issue #3: Is it acceptable for big-box retailer to offer the same merchandise at different prices in different channels? For instance, can a retailer sell a television for $1,299 online, but the same TV costs $1,329 in stores?

Issue #4: Is it acceptable for a big-box retailer to offer the same merchandise at different prices in different markets? For instance, can a retailer sell a television for $1,299 in Milwaukee, and for $1,329 in Philadelphia?

Issue #5: Name one online brand that demonstrated an increase in sales and profit because they allowed customers to leave reviews of merchandise online, and attach a link to the case study you are referring to.

Issue #6: Name at least two catalog brands that dove head-first into physical retail stores, avoided crippling debt, and still managed to have a direct channel that grew at the same rate prior to diving head-first into retail stores?

Issue #7: It is generally accepted as a best practice that the airline industry charges customers different amounts for identical seats on an airplane. Is it acceptable for a multi-channel brand to charge customers different amounts for the same sku on the same day, akin to what the airline industry does?

Issue #8: If multichannel customers are the best customers, and all businesses have gone "multichannel" over the past several years, why aren't there more "best customers" to prop up the economy during these trying economic times?

Issue #9: Is it truly necessary for a retail brand to have an outstanding "bricks and clicks" experience?

Issue #10: Is it acceptable to allow an algorithm to fully optimize your search marketing campaigns, or should humans control the process, albeit at lower levels of profitability?