Not So Smart

Here’s something I read in the February 24 issue of Iconocast. Surprised the heck out of me.

  • Percentage of top 50 e-merchants that responded to inquiry: 60%
  • Percentage of top 50 e-merchants that cross-sell: 53%
  • Percentage of top 50 e-merchants recognizing repeat buyers: 25%
  • Percentage of top 50 e-merchants that personalize email: 4%

Remember, these aren’t mom-and-pop sites. These are the top 50 e-merchants out there. The big guys.

Well, the hype on personalized service sure seems to be leaps and bounds ahead of the reality.

Let’s look at these figures from the top down.

  • Percentage of top 50 e-merchants that responded to inquiry: 60%

    Sixty percent may sound like a pretty healthy number. But according to this, 40 percent of inquiries from customers are never answered at all.

    That’s a pretty big number. Especially when you consider that failure to reply to an email is a pretty certain kiss of death for that relationship.

    Think of it this way. It costs an established online retailer about $42 to acquire a new customer. A lot more if you’re a new site in the category.

    If I were responsible for customer acquisition at a site, I’d be a little more than slightly annoyed that 40 percent of the customers I had paid to get signed up were being flushed down the you-know-what.

    Okay, so maybe not every one of those folks who don’t get a reply will leave you forever. But many will, and the rest will feel disappointed.

  • Percentage of top 50 e-merchants that cross-sell: 53%

    Same deal. It’s costing over $40 for each new customer and only 53 percent of sites are bothering to do any cross-selling.

    There must be something you can cross-sell to that customer.

    “If you bought that Palm Pilot, you may like this software.”

    “If you bought that wine, you may like this cheese.”

    “If you bought those earrings, you may like this bracelet.”

    And you don’t have to go to an outside supplier for a high-end profile-driven solution on day one. (Although that’s probably not a bad idea.)

    You can start out simply by matching related products, services or content manually through your own database.

    It’s a start.

  • Percentage of top 50 e-merchants recognizing repeat buyers: 25%

    Well, if you’re fortunate enough to have a customer come back, it might be nice if you take the trouble to recognize him or her.

    It’s hard to be convincing in your argument that you really value the relationship if you don’t even recognize people when they come back.

  • Percentage of top 50 e-merchants that personalize email: 4%

    This one amazes me. Is it really that hard to personalize emails once that person has signed up or registered at your site? I don’t think so. So how come only four percent bother to do it?

    At a time when everyone is bowing at the altar of personalization, relationships and permission marketing, it’s sobering to see how little progress has really been made in some key areas.

However, if you’re not one of those top 50 e-merchants, take heart.

Because if they’re doing such an indifferent job at building relationships with their customers, you now have the opportunity to get out there and kick their bloated butts.

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