In a recent article, Stores magazine wrote that shoppers are becoming agnostic about retail channels as loyalty takes a back seat to price. That thinking might help explain the increasing trend of squeezing more dollars out of excess inventory by all of the players - retailers, manufacturers, liquidators and online marketplaces - using a variety of approaches as described in the September 8th issue of Newsflash.
It might also help explain the blurring of lines in the ecommerce space. Offline retailers such as Wal-Mart and Sears are opening their online platforms to third-party sellers, and Walmart.com offers classifieds on its website.
Meanwhile, eBay and Amazon.com offer merchants cost-per-click advertising similar to Google's AdWords program (believe it or not, Sears does too), while Google and Amazon.com offer online payment services to compete with eBay's PayPal service. Google has its own department focused on retail headed by John McAteer.
To really shake up traditional perceptions of ecommerce, Amazon.com offers its own line of cookware, while eBay is partnering with prominent high-end fashion designers to launch collections that will be available exclusively on eBay. And as we were going to press, Amazon announced the launch of AmazonBasics, a new private-label collection of consumer electronic "basics" created for customers who want exceptional value. The AmazonBasics line currently includes audio video cables and blank DVD media, with additional accessories and other items to be added in the coming months.
As a result of these changes, not only can online sellers go multi-channel by listing on multiple pure-play marketplaces, they can list on branded retail sites, and their ads can appear on search results pages of top online shopping sites.
High-end fashion meets refurbished "daily deal" offerings, and one wonders what consumers will make of it all - more flexibility in where to shop, or confusion over seeing the same things everywhere they go? Let's not even mention how social networking sites and applications are pushing retail out to blogs and sites like Facebook.
As Greg Holden explains in his column today, even small artists have gone multi-channel to sell their artwork, and Julia Wilkinson shows some ways sellers are using blogs to promote their wares.
Next week, I'll be in Las Vegas, covering the Shop.org annual summit, where eBay CEO John Donahoe will among the keynote speakers, and where representatives from such companies as Macy's, Best Buy, Woot, Gilt Groupe, Buy.com, eBillme, SingleFeed and FitforCommerce are slated to speak on topics relating to ecommerce. It's a perfect time to investigate these trends to see if they are reactions to a tough economy, or a deliberate strategy as ecommerce evolves. I'll keep you posted in the newsletter and on the AuctionBytes Blog.
Thanks for reading.