December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

How Webvan hopes to leapfrog the competition to the customer`s front porch

(Page 2 of 2)

However, a close second, 28%, would use a delivery window model such as Webvan’s customer-selected, half-hour delivery window.

Cost is still king, according to the survey. While 42% of those polled are always looking for ways to spend less time shopping, only 11% would be willing to pay more to save that time. Respondents ranked price above brand, site shopability, delivery time, and customer service. Almost half said the free delivery on large purchases had enticed them to try the new method of shopping.

Martinez contends that Webvan saves enough on its strategic alliances with suppliers and its lack of real estate overhead to be price-competitive.

Still, PricewaterhouseCoopers found a strong vein of store loyalty. Four out of 10 users said they would be more likely to shop online if the web site were maintained by their tried-and-true, bricks-and-mortar store. Often, such stores teach their customers-in the store-to make the most of the remote ordering capability.

Obviously, Webvan can’t suddenly build a chain of stores. But recently, Dykema looked into how replenishers can capture marketshare. One suggestion was to stretch offerings, as Webvan has done with 50,000 SKUs in its warehouse shelves. A second was to work with customer preferences to define killer clicks, default orders that come time and time again.

Along the lines of the latter, Webvan’s Martinez says the company is ramping up its customer related marketing services. “We will remind you when it’s time to replace your toothbrush or buy that Father’s Day present,” she says. “I know I always forget the salsa when I get chips. Our system reminds you.”

“Webvan,” says Vogtle, “just got bigger and better in a business where scale matters.” Time will tell how the cookie crumbles-or gets delivered.

Jean Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Chandler, Ariz.

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