Retailers shift their ad spending from TV, radio and print ads to digital ads.
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Buy.com is testing several ways to humanize its site as it redesigns it. For instance, instead of just listing deal after deal, Buy.com is experimenting with grouping offers together for limited periods; meanwhile, a new product page for a shoe brand offers not just products but the story of the shoe company and its founder.
Telling a company's story is important not just for marketing to customers, but also for attracting talented employees at a time when the growth of e-commerce is spurring demand for experienced personnel. In a session at IRCE, Todd Morris, CEO of security products retailer Brickhouse Security, summarized his recruiting philosophy as "don't be a nobody." He presents Brickhouse to the news media as an expert on home security and lines the walls of the entryway to the company's offices with clippings about Brickhouse and notices of the company's listings among Inc. magazine's listing of fastest-growing companies and the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to let prospective employees know that this is a well-regarded business. And he waits for the right person before he hires, knowing that hiring the wrong person will be more costly. "A temporary person in a temporary seat will cost you more in turnover than if you waited, took your time and found the right person," he said.
The right personnel will help retailers understand their customers, present them the products they want, answer their questions intelligently and make online shopping more like dealing with human beings than machines. The lesson of IRCE 2012 is that retailers will have to function this way to convince the sophisticated, always-connected 21st-century consumer to shop based on factors other than price.