November 25, 2002, 12:00 AM

Mass Merchants: Aggressive and innovative

(Page 4 of 6)

In December, Office Depot also is launching a deal to help VARs-value-added resellers who are key distributors of technology products-reach Office Depot customers. The arrangement will help customers get in touch with VARs in their areas who can help them configure a server or work through software licensing. “Products are getting easier to connect, but not all our customers are comfortable being do-it-yourselfers,” Luechtefeld says. “This is an opportunity for us to be a resource for the VARs.”

As if all that isn’t enough, Office Depot launched a Spanish-language site at the beginning of December.

If the webcasts are an indication, Office Depot is on the right track in extending its reach not only by using the web but also by offering basic information to online customers. Its first presentation in mid October attracted 1,000-plus viewers. Even being cautious not to over-technologize the offering, though, Office Depot still fielded many more cries for help than it was expecting. “I was surprised at how many e-mails we got saying ‘I can’t hear the sound,’ ” Luechtefeld says. Office Depot tech staff ended up coaching a lot of viewers offline-and implementing an 800-number for future webcasts.

But the effort will be worth it, she says, because there is a knowledge void among small businesses. “Each time we do something like this, it’s almost unbelievable the hundreds of e-mails we get with great comments and incredibly good questions.,” Luechtefeld says. “We’re trying to stay ahead of where our customers are going.”

OfficeDepot.com

Date
January 1998
Visitors
7 million/mo. (total)
Sales
$2 billion/yr.
Design By
Verso and in-house
Site Search
in-house
CRM
Genesys
Affiliate Management
LinkShare Corp.
Fulfillment
WMS
Order Management
in-house
Returns Liquidation
in-house
Web Analytics
NetIQ Corp., Keynote Systems Inc., BizRate.com Inc.
Payment Processor
Midwest Payment Systems, CCS, American Express
Content Management
in-house
E-mail Management
Responsys Inc.

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QVC
All that and more

TV retailer QVC has moved its winning broadcast sales formula online to expand its reach, its product offering-and its sales. QVC.com contributed about $285 million, up 46% from the previous year’s $194 million, to 2001’s total sales at QVC Inc. “On air, we sell a lot of merchandise on impulse; online we sell a lot of merchandise as a considered purchase. They’re different business models, but they work together so well,” says Bob Myers, vice president of merchandising at QVC.com.

Cross channel integration is a QVC strength, says Jupiter Research analyst Julie Deeks. “There are only so many products you can show on TV in a given hour, but time and inventory are unlimited online,” she says. “The site really extends the TV network. The feature that exemplifies that is the program product listing. It’s very easy for the web visitor to access information that’s been promoted on TV and gain greater product depth.”

QVC-TV features about 1,600 products during any week, but QVC.com has nearly 1 million online 24/7. “Our home page is probably the most dynamic one out there. We change it 20 or more times a day to keep up with merchandise that is selling out on TV, because we pull from the same inventory,” Myers says.

To further engage web shoppers, QVC this year began streaming TV broadcasts live online. On one recent broadcast day that featured fashion merchandise, for example, 40,000 people launched the broadcast on their computers. QVC.com has also this year successfully transferred the concept of timed promotional events from its TV channel to its web site with features such as “lunchtime specials,” products available only online and only between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.. That’s driven both sales and new traffic.

The web also supports QVC.com’s e-mail marketing strategy, which it’s fine-tuned this year for impressive results. QVC.com cut outbound mails by several million, but did greater segmentation based on customer history among those it sent. Myers says that change has produced an 89% incremental increase in sales on click-through from e-mail, compared with sales for products that were not the subject of promotional e-mails.

While QVC.com does some online advertising on portals such as AOL, its biggest advertising vehicle by far is QVC-TV. The URL is on screen during all broadcasts, which now reach 84 million homes. QVC’s TV hosts also mention the web site frequently. “All the synergy we gain with the broadcast we try to translate online,” says Myers. “Customers have trusted us for 16 years on air, and they know they can do it online, too.”

QVC.com

Date
September 1996
Unique Visitors
2.4 million/mo.
Sales
$33 million/mo.
Design By
in-house
Site Search
Thunderstone Software
CRM
in-house
Affiliate Management
none
Fulfillment
in-house
Order Management
in-house,
Commerce Technologies Inc.
Returns Liquidation
in-house
Web Analytics
ClickCadence
Payment Processor
in-house
Content Management
in-house
E-mail Management
Kana Software Inc.

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ReturnBuy
A soup-to-nuts solution

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