Category Archives: Internet Marketing

Holiday Q4 2009 Challenges – Quick & Dirty Facts for Online Retailers

2009 Holiday Shopping Trends

1.) Customers are shopping later this year.

“Despite the talk of low inventory, many shoppers seem to be slow to head to the stores this holiday season. According to the survey, 52.4 percent of consumers have not yet begun their holiday shopping, and an additional 21.2 percent said they have completed less than one-tenth of their list.”

2.) It will be imperative to engage plugged in consumers.

“’Consumer behavior has changed, permanently,’ said Lisa Wehr, founder of Oneupweb, an online marketing firm that conducts holiday shopping research. ‘Budget-conscious shoppers are now looking online to conduct their shopping, and they’re searching for product information on social media networks.’”

3.) Free Shipping is a given this holiday season.

“Four out of five retailers told the retail group that they’ll offer free shipping with conditions, such as a total purchase minimum, during the holiday season. And more than half of retailers surveyed, 57 percent, said they’ll offer free shipping without imposing conditions on customers.”

4.) Home & Garden categories are down.

“Housing-related categories, such as furniture and home improvement, reported declines.”

“Furniture and home furnishing stores were down 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted for the month-to-month and down 7.6 year-over-year. Similar areas in decline included stores selling building material, garden equipment and supplies, which dipped 2.4 percent from September and dropped 16.6 percent from same period a year ago.”

5.) Consumers are much more patient and will wait for deals.

“’While last holiday season was filled with chaotic confusion, adjusting to uncertainty has now become routine for many Americans,’ said Tracy Mullin, president of National Federation of Retailers. ‘This holiday season will be a bit of a dance between retailers and shoppers, with each group feeling the other out to understand how things have changed and how they must adapt.’”

“Americans’ eagle-eye on bargain hunting is adjusting the priorities of many shoppers. According to the survey, more than half of holiday shoppers say that sales and price discounts (43.3%) or everyday low prices (12.7%) will be the most important factor when deciding where to shop. Factors like selection (21.0%), quality (11.8%), convenience (4.9%) and customer service (4.4%) declined from last year.”

6.) Nearly all retailers are planning to offer steeper discounts this year.

“Retailers last week gave muted holiday outlooks as they reported third-quarter earnings. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. both said they plan to discount aggressively. J.C. Penney said it expects sales for the quarter that includes the holidays to fall.”

7.) Customers are more likely to opt to use cash for purchases instead of credit cards.

“A shift away from credit cards could make what is expected to be a difficult holiday season even more challenging for retailers. Store clerks have long found that it’s easier to persuade people who are using credit cards instead of cash to spend more than they were intending, says NRF spokeswoman Ellen Davis.” Online Shopping Trends for Retailers

“According to NRF’s 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch, one-fourth (24.9%) of holiday shoppers will pay for gifts this year with cash, a 9.1 percent increase from last year’s 22.8 percent. In addition, 42.5 percent of shoppers plan to pay primarily with debit or check cards, a 2.5 percent increase from last year. The number of shoppers who will rely on credit cards is expected to fall 10.1 percent, with 28.3 percent of people using credit this year compared to 31.5 percent a year ago.”

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Great Information on Social Media

If you CEO doesn’t “get” social media yet….send him this video:

BarCamp Charlotte – BarCampCLT January 23-24

Coming up later on January is an excellent for marketers and developers in the Carolina area to network and learn from each other.  

The first Bar Camp hosted in Charlotte .

The first Bar Camp hosted in Charlotte .

Check it out and sign up if you can make it.  If you are going to be there, let’s plant to meet up and talk shop.

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My Neti Pot Saved My Career – A Testimonial Example

It all started with a visit from my wife’s hippie roommate from college.  She was telling us all about all the amazing remedies and herbal things that she sales at her hippie nature store in San Fransisco.  All this time I was barely paying attention until she mentioned the improvement in breathing she experienced after using a neti pot.  After much talk about the origins and “aboriginal traditions involving”…..zzzzzzzzz……she got to the words I was waiting on, “This is how it works…”.  I immediately got on the internet and saw that there were several non-hippies that had tried and enjoyed using a neti pot.  I also found that most drugs stores carry them.  I purchased one and found that she was right.  I slept better and breathed easier all day after using it. 
This is the neti pot I use.  Click the image to see a YouYube instructional video on using a neti pot.

This is the neti pot I use. Click the image to see a YouTube instructional video on using a neti pot.

 One Month Later:  I recently acquired the PR department of my company and as the holidays were approaching my company president approached me and asked if I could put together a  nice digital media kit for one of our companies holiday product line.  I jumped at the chance and decided that we were going to use video and Flash to create a interactive experience guided by a video host.  Limited time and budget constraints meant hiring outside talent was not possible.  That only left one option: Walt.

For days before the filming I read over the tongue-twister laden, over alliterative script and channeled my best James Earl Jones voice.  The day before the shoot through I began to feel a small itch in my throat that soon became soreness and then total congestion though my chest and sinuses.  I thought to myself, this couldn’t come at a worse time, but then suddenly I remembered my neti pot.  I used it once that evening when I got home from work and once in the morning before leaving to film.  Due to my neti pot, I was able to speak clearly and make it through my project without the congestion that I had the day before.
Now that you have heard all that….don’t you want to buy a neti pot?  That’s the power of customer testimonies!
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Top Ten Retailer Thoughts This Holiday Season

10.  Profit margins are for wussies.

9.  Maybe nudity would increase sales?

8.  I heard those new ninja throwing shoes are selling well this year.

7.  Is it possible for us to sale anti-depressants?

6.  I wonder if I can use some of our merchandise returns as gifts this year.

5.  Can we get use our employee discount on anti-depressants?

4.  I bet it’s that damn Santa who’s stealing our market share.

3.  We should air a holiday television special that says the “True meaning of Christmas” is gifts.

2.  How can I convince consumers that our iPods are greener than our competitors’?

1.  Maybe we can stay competitive with everyone else’s discounts if we give everything away for free ?

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Google Chrome – Sweet, Now Google Will Know Everything!

Google just announced today on their blog that tomorrow they will be releasing a beta version of a browser they designed called ‘Chrome’.  While I use and appreciate many of the tools that Google produces, I often question, like many, their usage of personal data for ad displays. 

Google Chrome Interface

Google Chrome Interface

Currently Google analyzes that the content of the pages you look at to display ads that are related to the content of the page.  Once Google had the tracking power of Google Toolbar and now the Chrome browser, Google has the ability to track viewing and purchasing history for individual web users instead of individual web pages.  It is very similar to the power Amazon has to match you with products that people with similar purchase histories prefer, except during your entire web experience.  While it proves somewhat convenient to have products displayed to me on a shopping marketplace, I don’t want to have this targeted bombardment of advertisements in the same way every time I use the internet. 

Google Chrome Beta - Creates Privacy Concerns

Google Chrome Beta - Creates Privacy Concerns

I expect Google will release a statement saying that they will not use the technology for this purpose like several of their projects before, but this is just one more time when we are putting something of incredible strength and power into Google’s hands without any accountability for privacy.

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The Evolution of Web 3.0 and Semantic Web Search – Part 1

It is that easy

Get Ready For Some Veritas From An Insomniatic Internet Marketer

Ever since someone coined the phrase Web 2.0 it seems that people have been speculating and predicting what Web 3.0 will involve.  I guess I am no different except that my speculations are closer to mainly limited to how it will affect search engines.  It is very probably that Web 3.0 will include a surge in modular applications and a new dimension of social/open source media, but the largest development will be the release of semantic-style search to the mass market.

Currently, most search engine technology is based off simple word matching.  For instance, if your search for ‘pink auto’  in most standard search engines you will pull results for the term ‘pink auto’ and maybe even ‘hot pink automobiles’, but it is not likely that you will get results for a ‘magenta suv’ or a ‘flamingo-colored Cadillac”….(suddenly tired…to be continued)

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