Last season was clearly a watershed for e-commerce in general, and consumer electronics e-tailers in particular. But now that CE cyberstores have established a solid beachhead with shoppers, how do they press their advantage?
To answer that question, TWICE assembled a veritable who's who of online merchants ranging from Internet pure players to click & mortar hybrids and every model in between. The result: the first ever TWICE E-Commerce Roundtable provided an insider's consensus of where the nascent distribution channel has been, and what's to come in the months and years ahead.
Among the highlights were holiday returns, which pundits predicted would bring e-tailers to their knees but proved to be a non-issue, with rates falling way below the brick & mortar norm. Panelists attributed the higher customer-satisfaction levels to the sophistication of the Internet shopper and the wealth of product knowledge that the medium affords.
The inevitability of an Internet sales tax, investors' growing impatience with prolonged online losses, and the importance of measured marketing expenditures in establishing brand and capturing customers were other points raised during the roundtable.
Also revealed were RadioShack's plans to overhaul its e-commerce site yet again, this time remaking it in Microsoft's image; lessons learned from the ghost of Christmas past regarding preparedness and capacity; and the frustration some feel with the creeping pace of vendor acceptance.
Sharing their hopes, concerns and e-commerce forecasts for the industry were the following panelists: Henry Chiarelli, executive VP, Radio-Shack.com; Richard Gilbert, VP, Electronics.net; Dan Hodgson, VP, Crutchfield; Robert Heiblim, CEO, etown.com; Mike Jeans, president, Roxy.com; Bob Lawrence, executive director, Associated Volume Buyers; Chris Payne, general manager, Amazon.com; and Frank Sadowski, senior VP, 800.com.
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