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« Perfect Summary of Consumer Sentiment | Main | Learning from Scrabulous »
Tuesday
Aug192008

Your Site is Part of Your Company

Nice entry at Six Pixels of Separation (via Chris Brogan on Twitter) regarding the way big retailers' stores are often disconnected from their online operations and merchandising.

I explained that none of this would have happened had the website been correct, to which he replied, "it's the website... that's not our problem... we're the store."
He wasn't being rude. He wasn't treating me poorly. He simply said what we all know (but don't want to admit): "the Website is not the same as the store, it's always different from the store, and even I don't know who to call when something like this happens."
No, he didn't say that line exactly, but I'm paraphrasing the overall sentiment of the dialogue.

The writer makes some great points and is absolutely correct that a retailer needs to treat its web site as part of what it does, not something separate. Many retailers have made tremendous improvements at this over the past few years. For example, look no further that Wal-Mart's colossal Site-to-Store program. Wal-Mart has managed to harness its greatest strength (i.e., the scale of nearly 4,000 stores) to attract more consumers to its web site.

The real issue here is that legacy policies and systems prevent retailers from being able to fully tie their online and offline worlds together. Keeping inventory information accurate in real time is excruciatingly difficult and a struggle for virtually every retailer. Pricing is another problem. Margin requirements and competition vary from one channel to the next, and retailers face a significant challenge in deciding whether or not they can honor online prices in their stores.

One thing is certain. Retailers need to understand that their customers are asking new questions these days, and they need to equip their store employees with the right answers.

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