Saturday, June 13, 2009

How could eTailers revolutionize the Product Business?

I spent a day this week with a very large etail company (who happens to be a customer so I won't name them). I am really impressed with the initiatives that this company is working on. They clearly know their strengths and are focused on things like analytics as they understand its key to building competitive barriers to less pure clicks-and-bricks competitors. That being said, I think etail could dial up their game a bit on game-changing initiatives. Amazon with their Kindle (which I love by the way) is a clear difference. But how are they really game-changing how they sell things?

I really believe etail is under-leveraging their online nature. Etail partnering with more sophisticated PMs could engage customers with prototype concepts and develop a much deeper relationship in the process. For example, all the product pages that I have seen on the big etail sites are of actual products with "Buy" being the key focus. What about concept pages with "Definitely Would Buy" on them? Most etail customers are highly-involved folks who love products and would love to scout out for the latest and greatest "New Thing". Keep the discussions underneath the product, the price (perhaps even do some interesting pricing models on the page?) and everything else. If a concept gets adequate interest, make it and provide it perhaps at a discount to the initial folks who showed interest.

The trade-off for product companies would obviously be awareness by competition of new concepts (though this could be obviated through IP protection and speed-to-market). But the pros vis-a-vis in-depth concept testing with involved consumers could be strong. And you could build product pipelines at earlier on in the product lifecycle to assist with monetization.

For etail, concept selling could be incredibly potent. It leverges significant competitive advantages against brick-and-mortar, drives people to your site to see what's new and builds a sales pipeline BEFORE the product is on the market. Pretty darn cool if you ask me.

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