You've probably heard of Woot. Management describes Woot in this way: "Woot.com is an online store and community that focuses on selling cool stuff cheap. It started as an employee-store slash market-testing type of place for an electronics distributor, but it's taken on a life of its own."
Woot sells one item a day ... they sell the item until it sells-out, or until 11:59pm Central Time.
Now, I can hear the complaints already ... "But Kevin, we sell 100,000 skus, so that business model means nothing to us." Or ... "they don't accept returns, that creates a bad customer experience, we'd never violate customer trust like they do." Or ... "they use all of that goofy community stuff and blogs and that's just not us, our 62 year old customer simply doesn't care about that."
Ok, what about the Woot model is of use to the way you market to customers?
Could you have one item out of the 100,000 skus you currently manage that you sell every day at 1:00pm EDT / 10:00am PDT, for a limited time (say one half-hour), at a discounted price (say 15% off)?
Could the customer also get free shipping if the customer adds two other items to her order?
Could you create a special e-mail list that folks subscribe to, and only the folks who subscribe to that list get to have advanced notice of what the special item will be?
Could you offer an additional 5% discount at checkout if the shopper could demonstrate that the shopper "re-tweeted" the special item to her loyal audience of 296 followers?
Could you envision the free word of mouth you'd get from this program, word of mouth that is a lot cheaper than producing a 148 page catalog that is targeted to a customer you rented from a co-op?
Could you use this marketing channel to liquidate items that are in short supply?
Could you then hire me to analyze the performance of this new "marketing channel", to see how your customers interact with it?
Honestly, there's almost no urgency in e-commerce. Create a reason for the customer to interact with your brand on a daily basis!!