Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not represented as fact|
While windsurfing the Net this morning I came across
by Chris Barton over at the NZ Herald Online.
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
It spells out the sad truth that although there are a handful of online
retailers who are getting it right -- the vast majority of e-tail sites
are a bit of a dead loss.
So just why aren't people shopping from their keyboards -- after all,
it sure beats tramping around a hot, crowded city when it comes time
to buy those Christmas prezzies eh?
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You don't have to dig very deep to work out one of the key reasons why people
are still beating the street in preference to clicking their keyboard -- and
Chris has also spotted it.
There just aren't any bargains on the Web!
Just look at the meteoric growth of "The Warehouse" (where everyone
gets a bargain) if you want to see just how much priority people place on
the cost of purchase when they go shopping.
Unfortunately for online retailers, even if you do leverage the lower
operating costs of an online presence so as to offer a lower price to your
customers -- the addition of packing and postage almost always pushes
the total cost of purchase back above normal retail.
E-tailers will often cite "convenience" when extolling the virtues of online
shopping -- but this ignores the fact that an awful lot of people seem to
really enjoy the act of walking around the mall looking for that special
something. I guess it's the "experience" versus the "convenience" -- and the winner,
more often than not, remains the act of physically getting out there into
the "real world."
The other problem is that even those e-tailers who have a great deal are
finding it exceedingly hard to generate foot-traffic.
Unlike the "real world," just building a website is no guarantee that you're
going to get people coming through the door. People don't sit at their computer
and spend hours typing in near-random domain names such as joeshardware.co.nz,
bikes4sale.co.nz, megagifts.co.nz, etc.
To generate virtual foot-traffic you have to create (and maintain) public awareness
of your web-store -- and that means two things: good search engine placement and
Unfortunately, many small retailers seem blissfully unaware that the raft of
services or software packages which offer to submit your site to half a trillion
different search engines are little more than a waste of money. They don't
understand that you're better to pay an expert (as opposed to an "expert") a
reasonable amount of money to figure out how you can get good positioning on
the top four or five search engines.
After all -- who gives a damn if the US$49 "Mega-turbo-hyper-submit-all" service
has you listed on "Jim's Top 100 weblinks" page or on dozens
of sparsely populated no-name online business directories that nobody ever visits.
What IS important is that
you're highly ranked on Google, Yahoo, AltaVista, Lycos, and maybe a couple
of others. These are the search engines that 95% of the people use 95% of the
time. "Jim's Top 100 weblinks" probably gets less than a dozen visits a day --
and any money spent being listed there would have been better applied to getting
a better ranking elsewhere.
Then there's the advertising option -- more on that tomorrow. Suffice to say
that despite being constantly being told that the online ad market is
depressed -- the cost of buying banners is still way too high for what
Save The Aardvark Fund
Yes, I have had several donations to the Aardvark fund and I thank those
who put their money where their mouse is :-)
If guilt is gnawing away inside you then there's still time to donate.
Just drop by and
hand over your loot.
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