April 25, 2008

If Multichannel Is Better ...

... then why do you purchase books at Amazon.com, and not at Barnes & Noble?

... then why do you rent movies from Netflix and not from Blockbuster?

... then why do you buy shoes at Zappos and not at Nordstrom?

... then why do you buy music at the iTunes store at not at Best Buy?


  1. Anonymous8:29 AM

    Amazon.com - Because of convience, but I purchase at Borders or The Tattered Cover as well.
    Netflix - Because I hate Blockbuster.
    Zappos - Because I love what they stand for as a brand and they have never failed me.
    iTunes, because it automatically syncs with my iPod and I don't have to buy the 7 Bad songs on the CD.

    My point is this...the multi-channel debate isn't about how many channels one should be on. The issue is about providing your customers with the right experience in working with your company. Experience contains convienence, price, service, delivery, marketing and so on. To simplify the debate to "how many channels I should be on" does not give justice to the problem.

    I think that the question is..."What channels allow me to profitably provide my customer's with the optimal experience in working with my company?"
    Then you can decide whether or not you are a multi-channel company.

    Now, solving that problem is not an easy task...which is what keeps consultants like you in business, right? :)

  2. Anonymous9:53 AM

    Amazon - Convenience, Price, Availability, User Ratings, Book Recommendations

    Netflix - Selection, Ability to queue up my movie list

    Zappos - This depends on Zappos having the shoe I want but I'll say customer service and convenience.

    iTunes - iPod

  3. If you're in the catalog world, the vendors and experts tell you that you must continue mailing your catalogs (and e-mail campaigns) ... that you have to have those two advertising channels to serve the customer.

    As both of you point out, the reason you buy from a brand has literally nothing to do with physical channels or advertising channels.

  4. Anonymous8:30 AM

    I live about 1/2 mile from an Office Depot retail store.

    I buy business staples (repeating orders of the same items) almost exclusively from them online (free delivery on orders over $50). Printer and computer stuff.

    I have purcahsed from the retail store in rare "emergency" situations.

    Why, Kevin, do they continually send me these massive catalogs?

    Catalogs that have all kinds of expensive customization based on past **online** purchase history? Catalogs to *both* the physical address and the billing address?

    I just throw them out.

    Now, I suppose I could be unique.

    I suppose it's possible that the catalog mailings influence purchase behavior for other purely online / rarely retail customers.

    But it seems like after years and years of this same behavior, they'd stop mailing me catalogs.

    Personally, what I have run into is folks don't yet understand the classic catalog "window" has changed, e.g. "Mail them for 2 years after last response". That may still be true for pure catalog buyers, but it seems folks are not seeing the online activity in context, they're not following the channel switch / loyalty patterns.

    Unless, of course, that 'ol matchback thing is telling them the catalogs are working.

    They're not.

  5. A question best answered by a new post, Jim!


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