Holiday Shopping

Yesterday, Seth Godin referenced our email exchange about holiday/online shopping trends...While he can undoubtedly do a better job with insightful commentary and rationale, I think one important element was missing from his discussion (And he is someone I genuinely respect, so this is in no way a slight).

Online retail and brick-and-mortar retail are often pinned against each other. In Seth's discussion he gave some great commentary on why these two classification of retailers have different peak holiday shopping days. Traditional multi-channel retailers are certainly gaining "market-share" in the online world (over single channel retailers like Amazon, ebay, etc), and while perhaps the aggregate traditional customer doesn't "get" the shipping concepts and think there is a more powerful reason...

I can often be found preaching online marketing prowess to drive offline sales. That said - I think the reason why "Cyber Monday" is the biggest sales day for traditional multi-channel retailers is because offline shopping also drives ONLINE sales. People go shopping the day after Thanksgiving - period. And while no one would think of a retail store as a stand alone marketing tool -- in this case -- it is. I believe that people go into stores and truly "shop" (rather than solely purchase), knowing that they still have time to price compare online and then buy.

Online marketers care about the separate sales channels ... Customers don't.


Logging on the Dub-Dub-Dub

It's been over a decade that the internet has been commercially used by most people... I feel like it's about time that Americans at-large shed some vernacular that stems from the "early years" (much like we no longer say "groovey" or "totally tubular").

First of all - No one "LOGS ON" anymore... I can't stand when I'm watching a commercial and the call to action is "LOG-ON to ESPN.com" (as an example) ... When AOL dial-up was mainstream - I understand why this term was used ... People waited several minutes to get connected to the internet - and "logging on" was a way for marketers to inform 40+ year olds that when they said "Log-on to XYZ.com" that they were referring to the internet (aka information superhighway) ... But now - I'm happy to report that AOL dial-up represents less than 5% of US internet penetration - and we've moved on to a faster, always on internet environment. We can "visit" or "go to" URLs... we just shouldn't LOG-ON and marketers should take note of this....

Secondly - when promoting a URL - people really should exclude the "www-dot" portion from now on... It's similar to the concept: If everyone didn't let the water run while brushing their teeth, imagine all the water that we collectively can save ... Well, in this case, if people no longer put "WWW-Dot" in front of all their URL addresses -- think of all the time we'll collectively save! You'll notice this on talk shows and the like...When the host asks them where can the viewer find out more - the reaction is typically "WWW-Dot-some-long-URL.com" ... No need for the first part, buddy... I think it's much easier to tell people to "Google" a keyword that your URL shows up #1 for...(and no bias here - I swear) Seriously - what's more likely - users remember and type in a specific URL - or they Google a relevant concept?
Either way - the WWW is inferred as part of a URL and people who don't realize this appear either uninformed or patronizing to me.

Am I alone here??



Props to Andrew Fried - who produced the most recent episode of Iconoclasts - featuring Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and legendary TV writer/producer Norman Lear.

Because we're friends with Andrew - Amy and I have watched a handful of Season 1 episodes - and we both agreed that this episode was the best one we've seen yet...In fact, it passed the VERY difficult "Amy couch" test.... If it's after 10:30PM, and Amy is on the couch lying down with the TV on ... Let's just say that even her favorite shows sometime don't pass the test... She's OUT! Well - last night - it was after 11 - and she didn't fade at all ... That should tell you something!

The show was really well put together, but most importantly was quiet interesting. Two things I found most interesting were:
  1. Howard Schultz wasn't the founder of Starbucks ... He wasn't even close ... He bought the chain after 10+ years as an employee. He did invent the "Coffee service" aspect of the chain, whereas before, they only sold pre-packaged pounds of coffee.
  2. A citizen (Norman Lear) actually BOUGHT and OWNS The Declaration of Independence. Huh? Where have I been?? I honestly had no idea ... I figured it was in a historic museum of some kind ... and ... I'm assuming I'm not alone. Norman Lear needs a MySpace page....
For those that don't know, Iconoclasts is a show that brings two legendary "icons" in different fields together so they can pseudo interview each other. Typically, if you are a fan of one (or both) of the subjects - the show is really interesting. The challenge for me, personally, is that in the past the subjects tended to be people I wasn't overly familiar with or interested in... I suppose that says something about the lack of broad culture in my life -- but thats neither here nor there ... whatever that means)....

Here's a clip... Good work Andrew!


My Virgin America Experience

I flew out to San Francisco this week on Virgin America Airlines. I've never flown Virgin Atlantic, but their brand is well-known for high quality flying experience...

My initial reaction of Virgin America is: Good potential, but poor first experience...

The main perk of the airline seems to be the interactive console in front of every seat... The entertainment system (called "Red") is supposed to come equipped with:
- DirecTV
- Pay-per-View Movies
- Pay-per-View TV (Past episodes of popular TV - like The Office, Family Guy, etc)
- Games
- Email/Text messaging (including Seat to seat chat)
- Food ordering

Well - unfortunately - the only feature that worked on my flight was the food ordering capability. Additionally, as opposed to what the crew members said, the food was no great shakes...

The decor of the plane was funky-fresh - consisting of neon lighting and all black leather seats. The leg-room seemed typical, a little less possibly than Jetblue...

The airline currently only has service between LA, SFO, JFK, DC, and Las Vegas - which are pretty typical locations for me...

I will definitely give it another try - but I'd be looking forward to them improving the experience. I'd like for the airline to make it, but not willing to sing it's praises just yet...