Well, as I am sure you can tell by my blog trail, I have taken a hiatus for most of the summer! Time to get back into giving my loyal followers more ideas about how to make money as multi-channel merchants.
Last week I attend the New England Mail Order Association's (NEMOA) fall conference. It was a well attended and upbeat affair. I delivered the keynote presenation entitled "Ten balls to keep your eyes on now" along with another session about "How to turn your site into your best sales person".
I was very impressed with the positive mood and enthusiasm at this conference and thought to myself what a difference six months can make in the "economic mood". Sure things are still very tough but there was an air of excitment about this fall buying season amongst the group. The economic news has turned….or at least is turning…and I think most multi-channel merchants are planning for a comeback.
There was also a common belief that our collective future will be determined not by new technology or marketing methods but by the same old thing that has always driven the future….that is our ability to develop truly new and unique products that customers want. Magic merchants is what we have always been and what we need to be again.
It was also interesting to note that products and services that cater to living a simpler life seem to be flourishing. Catagories like affordable clothing, gardening supplies, cooking/entertaining, patio furniture and bird feeders are all doing well. Product categories that feed "conspicious consumption" or over the top "high ticket" indulences are suffering. Even the wealthy aren't spending on some categories just because it "looks bad" in these tough times. Ah yes, the simple life connotes a world where we don't need Hummers and McMasions, where showcase houses give way to smaller homes, where we re-use, recycle and re-claim and where we are conscious of our carbon footprint. In my view this recession has changed our view of the American dream….for the better. I marvel in all the new product categories that are currently being born in our world as such consumer changes evolve.
The last point that I heard at the conference that made sense to me is how the competition of multi-channel direct merchants like us (i.e. the retail store) is suffering much more than we are. We forget sometimes how lucky we are to be flexible enough to reduce costs to meet falling demad in a recession. Retail stores can not get out from underneath unprofitable locations as fast as we can get out from underneath unprofitable mailings. They have been reducing inventory (selection!), staff (customer service!) and locations (availability!) as fast as they can. Such moves feed right into the hands of direct merchants like us and the smart ones amongst us are right there to welcome those disenchanted retail customers.
Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 383-5221 (direct line).Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221
Comments or questions are welcome.