January 16, 2011

Dear Catalog CEOs: Misinformation

Dear Catalog CEOs:

We keep hearing about neat little companies with unusual names "reaping the rewards of social commerce".  Or mobile.  Or whatever the next big thing will be.

We hear the tired stories about Dell, Southwest Airlines, Best Buy, and Comcast, companies using Social Media to make connections with "fans".  We're told that their sales growth is linked to Social Media ... and then we see Best Buy post a -1.6% comp in December and nobody bothers to link the decrease to Social Media ... only increases are ever linked to Social Media.

We read a headline that suggests that Facebook AOVs are 7% to 10% greater than are AOVs for e-commerce ... then we read further, and find out that the metric only applies to a tiny company serving an under-twenty-five audience.

We're told that 2011 is the year of "integration" ... that you're already sunk if you aren't leading the mobile charge, and that if you aren't integrating mobile with all of your channels, you are providing a poor customer experience.  Research organizations study the habits of 883 Android users, then extrapolate the results to your brand, a brand they've never studied.

In other words, you are being misinformed.  Over and over again.

It's possible that there's never been a more important time to understand exactly who your customer is.  Certainly, there's never been a more important time to understand how your customers interact with channels.

You're going to find that some of your customers (for catalogers, many or most of your customers) are very "old school".  To them, "Android" is a character from a sci-fi movie, "Apple" is a fruit grown on a tree in Eastern Washington, and "Social Commerce" is a dollar auction at a Soroptimists meeting.

You're going to find that some of your customers are on the bleeding edge ... and it is quite likely that you aren't meeting the needs of that audience.

Your story is going to be different, likely very different, than the story told by trade journals, bloggers, conferences, the Twitterati, and associated pundits.  Filter the misinformation.  Be a leader.  Do what is right for your customer.