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  1. Who's in the Game?
  2. From Consumer to e-Retailer
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From Consumer to e-Retailer

We have all been on the customer side of the customer-retailer relationship, so we all know something about how that relationship unfolds, successfully or unsuccessfully. However, the actual metrics of running a retail operation profitably are not revealed through that relationship; they exist only behind the scenes, in the planning and execution, of managing the holiday hype and the summer doldrums. The secrets of retail are not arcane. In fact, they are not even secrets. Yet like any apprenticed profession, retail management can best be learned by heart through practice. This book will start your practice by showing you exactly which muscles you need to find and flex.

The heat of the early days of e-retail is cooling down, and the first of the madness seems to have passed. Let's all take a deep breath of fresh reality!

Reality comes with a few lessons. The most important one is this: You cannot conduct retail, online or off, without a foundation in retail principles. That is, maybe you can; just not for very long. As too many e-retailers have learned, all you get to show from the shoot-from-the-hip approach is a bloody ledger of red ink. Not a pleasant holiday bonus. And your investors will not thank you.

We start at the beginning with retail strategy. Define your business. Differentiate it from your competitors. Fill a niche. Then we build your e-retail operations logically based on this strategy: assortment planning (which items, how many, and what will they cost you); merchandising (presenting goods for sale); inventory management (controlling the investment your goods represent); pricing and promotions (what to charge and what message it sends); profitability (analyzing operations to realize a profit); vendor relations (working with your suppliers); and organizational structure (the employees and how they need to communicate).

In addition to our step-by-step escorted tour through the world of retail management, we have created two hypothetical e-retailers: ShoeWeb and WebKidCare. Each chapter applies the practical knowledge of the chapter to these two hypothetical e-retailers, demonstrating the decision-making processes the management teams would employ to make solid business decisions.

Keep in mind that the hypothetical e-retailers were created solely for the purpose of illustrating retail principles in a controlled environment. Please do not create a retail plan based on either of these hypothetical sites. Any resemblance to existing or planned companies is purely coincidental. (Honestly, we just made them up!) However, the purpose of them is to walk you through examples of how these principles might be applied in the process of setting up an e-retail organization.

Clearly, there are many paths to success in e-retail, but the shortest and most profitable paths have a common foundation. They put the retail in e-retail.


  1. "Patterns of Disruption in Retailing." Harvard Business Review. Jan/Feb 2000.

  2. "Survey: E-Commerce: We're Off to the Online Mall." The Economist. February 26, 2000.

  3. "Survey: E-Commerce: First America, Then the World." The Economist. February 26, 2000.

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