demise of the department store. This starts by describing the current situation in retail, which involves departments stores losing the interest of consumers and being forced to close, while smaller specialty stores become more popular.
After describing the general demise and the current situation, the author explains the reasons behind the demise. The first reason given is that the department store was originally created in a time before the automobile. It was then a new way of retailing and the stores were only competing against small family-owned retailers. This includes that the previous system of bartering was replaced with a system with fixed prices where consumers were guaranteed satisfaction or their money back. The author also notes that departments stores were a place to go as much as they were a place to shop. This section of the article explains why department stories initially became popular.
The first change in the situation occurred when shopping malls first appeared. The author notes that department stores anchored shopping malls, with one department store at either end. This arrangement created traffic past the specialty stores, meaning that the department stores were actually helping their competition. The shopping mall also took on the role of entertainment center, which lost the department store its main advantage. Other issues that led to the decline included the competitive prices in Wal-Mart, the effective advertising of specialist brands like Victoria's Secret and The Gap, and shopping malls pulling people away from the inner city where many department stores were located. The author also suggests that the demise may be partly due to the role of the buyers changing, where buyers were once connected to their consumers and able to buy what they wanted. In contrast, today's buying is done at the corporate level so there is no real connection between buyer and consumer.
The author finishes by suggesting that the real reason for the success of the department store was that it hid "acquisition as sociability" with this linked to the way that people considered the department store a place to be rather than a place to shop.
Seven Winning Business Strategies for the Long Haul
The article asks the question, "What are the key ingredients of enduring success in an ever-expanding networked business world?" The article attempts to provide answers to this question by providing seven business strategies and an example of how each strategy has been put into practice.
The first strategy relates to technology and advices to be an early adapter, which means being a best mover rather than a first mover. The lesson of this strategy is not to rush into adopting technology if it is not going to result in better performance and profits. Staples is used as the example, with the article describing how Staples used information technology carefully, only putting resources into utilizing technology when the consumer base was at the point of making use of it.
The second strategy is "transform, don't conform," with this describing a need to adapt processes as well as products. Celera Genomics is given as an example, with the article describing how the company chose to sell subscriptions to its human genome information via the Internet.
The third strategy is networking, with the article describing how the network can be used to win new partners, employees and customers. Intuit, a maker of tax and personal finance software, is given as an example. The article describes how the company has developed an integrated network with itself at the center, with this strategy key to the company's success.
The fourth strategy is customer relations, with the article describing how customers can be turned into working assets by using them in design and research and development. Dell is used as an example, with the article describing how computers are only built based on a customer's needs. This reverses the old model of retailing where a consumer buys what the company makes, instead meaning that the company only makes what the consumer wants to buy.
The fifth strategy is finance, with the article stating that mission and financial design go hand in hand. This includes that capital needs to be structures to allow room to adapt. E*Trade is given as an example, with the article describing how E*Trade teamed with Telebanc and then bought them out. This allowed E*Trade to continue to profit even when people reduced their trading, because the money people were placing in Telebanc made up for the loss. The article also notes that the other online traders that only focused on trading software were both in the red while E*Trade continued to profit.
The sixth strategy is positioning, with the article describing how companies need to make themselves unique. Verisign is the example used, with the article describing how it has made itself the leader in secure online transactions and continues to develop and change to make sure it remains the leader.
The final strategy is execution, with the article stating that organizations have to deliver on their promises. i2 Technologies, a software program designed to save companies money by calculating the most efficient delivery route of products, is used as the example. The article notes that the original vision was to save organizations money. This was achieved with the original software and constant improvements has ensured that this continues to be achieved.
New Media System Calls for New Tools
The article starts by describing an article that questioned whether methods of measuring marketing effectiveness were useful in the current market. The article then suggests that not only might the methods be ineffective, but that they might also be based on an old model of marketing and advertising. The article goes on to say that basic ideas about marketing and advertising have not changed to adapt to a new kind of consumer. The article also states that consumers get more information from the Internet and word-of-mouth than they do from traditional advertisements. Based on this, a "Big Box Theory of Marketing Communication" is proposed.
This theory suggests that people receive marketing information in a random fashion based on what they see, feel, hear, or experience over time. This is the "big box" where people encounter random information, with it also random how people respond to certain pieces of information. Relating this to how advertising effectiveness is measured, the article shows that measurement only involves considering one box or one method of advertising. Based on the "big box" theory, this method is ineffective and does not represent the bigger picture or the real experience of consumers. This is used to conclude that measuring advertising effectiveness is based on an old model that has failed to adapt to changes in the market and changes in consumers.
Vox venditori: Marketers discover Weblogs' power to sell -- minus the pitch
The article describes how weblogs, or blogs, can be used as a marketing tool. The article describes various companies that are using blogs. This includes travel company BizNetTravel Inc., whose blog provides travel news. Dr. Pepper/Seven Up Inc. have a cow's travelogue that is designed to appeal to their target market, while the PR firm Bold Approach has a blog based on the employee's experience of sales and advertising. The article describes how the major benefit of blogs is that marketers can appeal to their audience without appearing to market anything. The article also notes how the voice of the blog can help to give the product, service, or brand a personality that customers can get to know. This can effectively create a relationship between the consumer and the organization. It is also emphasized that because blogging uses a conversational tone, it is not met with the same distrust as traditional sales methods.
Why Service Stinks
The article describes how many companies would rather lose the average customer than fix the customer's problem, while above average customers are provided with excellent customer service. This gap in service is the subject of the article, with the article noting that the gap is widening.
The article provides various examples of average consumers receiving poor service. This is then compared to "good" customers who receive exceptional service. Internet executive Roy Sharda is used as an example, with it described how Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide allowed him exclusive entry to Starwood's Sheraton Agra so he could propose to his girlfriend and even provided a horse-drawn carriage, flowers, and a room upgrade. The article suggests that this is the current service environment, where average people are ignored while high-rollers are treated like royalty.
The article goes on to describe how technology has allowed organizations to assess the cost of service for an individual and calculate the return on that investment. If there is no return on investment, then organizations decide that there is no point putting resources into providing good customer service. It is suggested that this will be a growing trend, with the customer service provided tiered based on what profit can be generated from the individual.