The Data Behind Online Retailing

How do you brand yourself online? If you run a business, do you provide your customers with an online mechanism by which they can provide comments about your products and services publicly? If so, do you believe online feedback has a positive or negative effect on your company? How much shopping vs. online research do you do, especially during November and December?

GOOD Magazine examines the online marketplace in the video below, which is from January 2010. They write:

More and more of our shopping is happening online. And in the digital marketplace, shoppers write and read millions of reviews each year, transforming the way we make buying decisions—and how companies make their products. Welcome to the information-saturated world of internet retail.

Here’s what GOOD has to say about the positive side of social networking, including how smart companies use customer feedback to create a better product, and thus increase sales.

The negative side of the online marketplace is when you regularly provide your customers with a bad experience, and yet maintain good search rankings because of the number of reviews written (albeit, bad ones)…until Google finds out and writes an algorithm just for you! [Via Fortune.]

In the past week, an article posted by the New York Times brought to light a strategy by the owner of an eCommerce store who used a ‘specific’ tactic to get better rankings in the search engine for his website. What did this person do to boost his rankings in Google? He used a tactic of providing the POOREST customer service possible to get customers to write negative reviews and complaints in various websites helping him actually acquire links!

What do you see as the positives of social networking and customer feedback? The negatives? What do you think of the feedback loop from customer to producer to customer — can you think of instances when it hasn’t worked as well as GOOD claims? For example, what did you think of social media’s power to kill The Gap’s new branding?

Note — added later (20 December 2010) :: IEEE had the following news byte via

Social media is generating considerable interest for business success. In an article in Harvard Business Review [“What’s Your Personal Social Media Strategy?” 88(11):127-130, November 2010], Soumitra Dutta discusses his belief that today’s leaders must embrace social media. He also discusses strategies for successful implementation. Should you decide to implement social media in your business strategy, an article by Donna Hoffman and Marek Fodor discusses a new way of measuring the benefits of an organization’s social media marketing investment, and provides strategies on how to implement this new kind of measurement [“Can You Measure the ROI of your Social Media Marketing?” MIT Sloan Management Review, 52(1):41-49, Fall 2010.]

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