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E-Commerce Strategy Checklist

A survey, conducted of online shoppers in mid-1999 (which has been validated time and time again by subsequent surveys conducted by NPD and others), illustrated that:

  1. consumers have short memories

  2. electronic commerce retailers are doing a horrible job of branding

  3. the medium does not lend itself well to brand programming

  4. all of the above are true

The answer is obviously D.

Over a 19-day period, Harris Interactive polled more than 100,000 electronic commerce customers of business-to-consumer vendors. More than 180 retailers in 11 product sectors were used for the study. The firm with the highest brand recognition was iQVC, which carries strong brand identity from the television world. Not only was iQVC highest overall, it was also highest in four of the 11 categories, indicating that the answer to brand awareness and preference has less to do with technology and online presence and more to do with meeting minimal requirements for brand awareness. Avon, another strong offline brand, was a clear winner in health and beauty, and The Gap was strongest in clothing.

As might be expected, Amazon.com scored highest in book-selling.

Branding online is an immature and inexact process. As evident from these findings, it is easier at this stage of development of interactive techniques and technologies to rely on offline media to begin and support strong branding than in using online media. Where online helps in the branding process is in demonstrating various tangible qualities associated with the brand. You demonstrate trust by respecting privacy and security. You demonstrate customer responsiveness through fast downloads and dialing interactive communications into your site. And you demonstrate respect by not spamming.

These and other qualities vary by product category. However, despite the mercurial nature of online branding, these qualities along with others are necessary for building brand equity into a site or offering available through electronic commerce.

The checklist in the sections that follow stages branding in each of the three phases of an electronic commerce rollout: pre-launch, introduction, and after-market support. Implicit in each, without using space to phrase as questions, is whether or not each item has been configured into your branding process.

Branding (Pre-launch)

Personality statement (select from the prime six)

Competitive review (known and unknown)

Positioning (versus competition and for customer)

Category definition (3-2-1)

Naming

Trademark registration

URL

Logo

Offline programming

Advertising

Public Relations

Direct Marketing

Promotions

Community

Roll-Out (Launch)

Editorial/Analysts (endorsement process)

Tour

Follow-up

Posting

Advertising (paid space/time commitments)

Banner ads

Site sponsorships

Search engines (top ten in top ten)

Community (online buzz)

Email blast

Newsgroups

Ezine/newsletter

Support (Post-launch)

Brand status

(Brand Equity)

Experience

(stop, engagement and demonstrate)

Web aesthetics

(review and tune)

Trust

(a must)

Site traffic analysis

(by server, URL and page)

Search engine ranking

(update requirements)

Community updates

(corrections)

Merchandising programs

(kickers)

Endorsement leverage

(solicit additional)

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