Eric J. Merfalen As the holidays quickly approach, consumers will be turning to the Internet to do their shopping. The practical reasons for doing so are evident -- no long lines, no crowded department stores, and no need to spend hours upon hours in shopping malls. Aside from the customer advantages, manufacturers can reap the benefits as well. According to a recent study by Wilton, Conn.-based marketing research provider
Greenfield Online, one-third of consumers reported that they will spend more money online for gifts than last year, with an average spending amount of $660. Such statistics mean a higher demand for online purchasing sites this season. In light of last year's general dissatisfaction from online consumers, much is being done this year to regain the customer's trust that online purchasing is easier and more reliable.
800.Com, a consumer-electronics retailer, ensures the reliability of its business by providing a number of features and services, including:
Maintaining its own warehouse without third-party shipping or fulfillment.
Staffing enough customer-service clerks to take orders and maintain accounts.
Having available product specialists on hand that are trained by the manufacturers to answer specific questions about products, configurations, and various technical-support topics.
Providing products that are under served at retail, in addition to the targeted products typically available. Frank Sadowski, senior vice-president of 800.com, offers tips to ensure that manufacturers' products and services meet customer expectations:
Accurately forecast the availability of the products you are selling.
Maintain a strong interaction with the merchandising staff of the e-tailer.
Keep a high level of interactivity with your e-tailer, marketing the products with high-quality images, information, and content. Sadowski also states that when selecting merchandise to sell, 800.com "studies the assortment plan by category with really only one criteria -- what is going to serve the consumer the best." Such an approach to inter-company management and basic customer interests have proven to be successful tactics for 800.com. With a potential to increase product sales this season, providing quality means of online purchasing is imperative. Consumers are looking for more products, better service, and a reassurance that what they purchase will arrive in time for Christmas.