AMAZON

Please do not compare Amazon to Walmart! I don’t recall ever having a pleasant shopping experience at Walmart, and I think the folks over at http://www.i-hate-walmart.com/, http://www.walmart-blows.com/, http://ihatewalmart.blogspot.com/ and http://walmartsucksorg.blogspot.com/ would agree with me! My experience at Amazon has always been pleasant and their customer service is always on point…and I would know because I had a lost package and they were excellent in taking care of my problem and sending over a new order right away.

All kidding and personal opinions aside, you learn something new every day! I had no clue about these new taxes on Internet purchases (oops, I’m not one of those knowledgeable consumers). Thanks to California’s lead, it looks like the days of no Internet tax are over.

Should these sales taxes be implemented, Amazon is going to have to strategize and rethink their positioning. As mentioned in the http://www.sensibleemarketing.com/2012/09/will-amazon-be-next-walmart-new-tax.html blog, what makes Amazon different right now is that they have very low prices and should people have no problem waiting for the delivery, then they are golden. With the advent of a new tax, prices will increase and Amazon will face stronger competition from brick and mortar retailers. Living in a fast-paced world where people want everything instantaneously, I think the face-to-face retailers might gain a slight advantage over Amazon if a sales tax is included.

Will Amazon go from a solely online retailer to an actual brick and mortar retailer? What makes Amazon unique is that users from any location around the world can buy and sell goods. I don’t think Amazon would ever have the same presence and business practice like that of a superstore such as Walmart, Kmart and Target because that would go against its philosophy as a brand. I think the online element is vital for Amazon, which is why they would have to reposition themselves and change their strategy should they open face-to-face locations…and I don’t believe that is going to happen. An actual location isn’t necessary in order to sell Kindles. Amazon has a loyal customer base and I think they can remain a strong competitor regardless of the tax, but they do have to be mindful about the competition. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger sounds cliché, but I think in the long run, Amazon may come out on top if they play their cards right.

I see this online sales tax being a heavier burden on small, web-based retailers rather than on Amazon. Small online retailers might find it more helpful to open a brick and mortar location as a result of the sales tax and (potentially) slowing business, but the operating costs of a store are much more expensive than that of a solely digital presence. This may not be feasible for some online businesses and may be detrimental in the long run.

I think the truly innovative small businesses will prevail in the long run, and smaller businesses can still compete with larger firms, but with facing hardships and having to work that much harder to stand out from the crowd.

This taxation shouldn’t really come as a surprise to citizens, as we are used to being taxed. I don’t think e-marketing will change much, there is still a need to target consumers. As for Amazon, I think we will be seeing a rise in the number of pick-up stations at 7-Elevens nationwide and delivery trucks. I think if they place customer service at #1 (and here’s why they should: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/customer-service-important-organization-2050.html) and start improving their same-day delivery program, then Amazon might just survive this change. Maybe they’ll even go the FedEx route and have their own delivery system one day.

And all throughout this Amazon should maintain positive PR 🙂

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Blog 1

The power of social media is undeniable! In this day and age, any company without an online presence is three steps behind the competition. Twitter and Facebook have become agents of change and 24/7 communication is now possible thanks to the advent of these websites. Additionally, any business needs an online portal in order to survive.

Is interactivity being oversold? I don’t believe so. Consumers may not always decide to voice their opinions online or peruse a website before going shopping. However, not having an online presence is more detrimental than not. What happens the one day that your loyal customer does decide to visit the company’s website instead of visiting the store? Or when a customer contacts the ‘Live Chat’ option for a customer service issue and is put on hold indefinitely? Interactivity is a powerful tool and I think all businesses would be intelligent in investing time and resources into these technologies, as they are the way of the future.

As with all things in life, actions reap positive and negative results. Check out this blog: http://www.sensibleemarketing.com/. One of the mentioned issues with online interactivity is that it is not always positive. However, learning how consumers feel about a product or issue can allow businesses to perfect their practice and improve their products and services. This same exact problem can occur with word-of-mouth communication and negativity is not exclusive to online interactivity. While the scope of online interactivity may be larger, companies always have the option to respond to negative comments and work to correct all problems quickly, more so than they would be able to do so with old-fashioned word-of-mouth complaints. Public relations departments exist and are ready to come to the rescue should there be a company fiasco or problem that needs to be addressed and fixed.

Another mentioned issue with online interactivity is that it is expensive. However, I would consider the allocation of resources into interactivity an investment. For start-up companies, it would not be too difficult to hire a PR expert to handle and coordinate all social media relations. This is a great way to kick-start business and obtain a following. For anyone who has a Facebook, chances are that you have a friend who has a jewelry business with a Facebook page, here is an example of such page: http://www.facebook.com/chic.bracelets. While the potential consumer may not buy every item posted, seeing these products keeps them aware of the brand and one day they might just catch the perfect piece that they were looking for. Another example of how this was done can be found here: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/220354. This is an important tool in order for a start-up business to get the momentum going. Once a company expands, interactivity and the costs associated with it should become less of a burden and more of an asset.

It would be impossible for most large companies to respond to EVERY single customer comment or question, but having an online outlet for these things can allow consumers to speak to one another and help each other out. For those that mention that with all businesses and companies having web presence, that there is more competition, I remind them that competition is what keeps our economy growing and our products and services improving.

While online interactivity is, in my opinion, not being oversold, companies should be tracking the success rate for all online interactivity. In addition, companies should not neglect the importance of brick-and-mortar locations. It is still essential to have a happy, helpful staff; as that can make all the difference for a brand’s image in the consumer’s mind. One company that does a great job with both their online presence and customer care is Nordstrom.

Nordstrom is a fashion retailer that has over 214 stores nationwide. One of the many ways in which Nordstrom has been innovative in serving their customers is through their online presence at www.Nordstrom.com and the acquired website www.hautelook.com. Nordstrom is famous for its excellent customer service, which is not to be forgotten in this high-tech day and age. They have fused their customer service with their online presence to create an unforgettable shopping experience. You can learn more about Nordstrom and how it has grown by reading this article: http://beta.fool.com/saintgermain/2012/04/18/best-way-play-luxury-goods-sector/3711/. To learn more about legendary customer service experiences at Nordstrom, and see an example of positive interactivity, check out this article: http://toddand.com/2007/02/18/legends-of-unbelievable-nordstrom-service/. Lastly, on the subject of online interactivity, have you heard of Nordstrom Silverscreen, which is an interactive media channel for video content? Yup, Nordstrom went there and found another way to connect with users. Read more about it: http://www.internetretailer.com/2005/11/02/nordstrom-takes-to-the-silver-screen.

All in all, I believe that online interactivity is vital and necessary for business. Having just the right amount of video content paired with a navigable website, plus sufficiently active but not overwhelming e-mail list, Facebook account and Twitter feed are the perfect mix for success. Consumers are eager to be heard and companies will do right by listening.