The Amazon Return Policy-Raising ??? Buyer Expectations Internet Wide

An odd thing happened this holiday season on Ebay. I had an buyer that decided the Amazon return policy was much better than my return policy. I have to admit that having 30 days (Amazon’s policy) to return an item is much better than 7 days (my policy), and I did refund my customers money when the item arrived 30 days after we agreed she would return the item. But the incident got me thinking.

Is Amazon setting the standard now for internet buying customer service? Other Ebay sellers have reported that buyers are asking to return items up to 60 days after a sale. Some Amazon sellers are reporting packages being returned from Amazon buyers more than 30 days after the buyer received it.

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IMA Recognized as Reviewer in Internet Retailers Magazine

written by Lanae

Internet Retailers
Internet Retailer Magazine recognizes the Internet Merchants Association (IMA) to give reviews in their ‘9th Annual Recognition of Leading Retail Web Sites – Hot 100 Best Retail Web Sites.’

Alongside various retail and e-commerce consulting firms, IMA gave its reviews on a number of the Hot 100 websites. These ranged from technology to gift baskets, and hardware to housewares. Among the Hot 100 are Amazon and CafePress, both of which are quite familiar to many of our members.

Not only was it an honor for the IMA to contribute, but it can also be a learning tool for our members…each one of us could learn something from those that make up the Hot 100. As noted in the magazine it is about knowing your customers, utilizing new concepts, and creating great shopping experiences. Perhaps one day we will see some of our own members there.

The list can be found here… Internet Retailers

Advertising – Outside the Box

There are many ways to advertise a website. The traditional ways are to buy Google Adwords, participate in a link exchange, submit your site to all the search engines, etc. These are all good ways to advertise; however, why not think outside the box?

We sell swimsuits. We have been brainstorming ways to get the product to the people. Here are some things we have done recently: We had some bling, bling shirts made advertising the site which we give to our favorite people. We bought some tank tops and had this fantastic gal decorate them with rhinestones. We wear them to events where there are sure to be people who will ask about the site.

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Marketing to Buyers

In February 2007, IMA held its first conference in conjunction with the AMD/ASD tradeshow in Las Vegas.  As part of IMA’s conference, speakers from Amazon, eBay, Google, Marketworks, PayPal, and several other ecommerce companies spoke on a variety of topics.  Here is a recap of the salient points from the Marketing to Buyers seminar given by Paul Lundy of Marketworks

I.          Pillars of Marketing

 1.            Positioning 

Well-positioned businesses communicate distinct, meaningful differences to their desired buyers

            Well-positioned companies have focused positions that draw in a lot of potential buyers, but the actual # of buyers/users is far broader than the company’s positioning

            What is your area of expertise?

            What are you willing to sacrifice?

            What distinguishes you from your competitors?

            What type of consumer do you want the most?

Are your desired customers loyal to a particular brand?  If so, how can you capitalize on that brand loyalty?

Are your desired customers loyal to you as a seller?  If so, why?  If not, how can you increase that loyalty?

What % of your buyers are repeat customers?  How can you increase that %?

Companies That Excel at Positioning

1.            Apple- Fun, innovative technology that works

2.            McDonalds- Fun, reasonably priced fast food for kids

3.            Michelin- Families seeking peace of mind and safety

 2.            Branding 

Collection of emotional and functional attributes that strongly influence a buyer’s decision to purchase.  Perceived by the only legitimate judges (customers).

Consistent branding increases your likelihood of success

Does your business have a clear, distinct image and message?  If not, why not?  If so, can you expand or improve this message?

Buyer Contact Points- Email, feedback, price, store, template, packaging, Me page, customer service, promotions, payment options, website, packing slip, freebies, etc.

Companies That Excel at Branding

1.            Amex- Used by the most prestigious cardholders

2.            Crest- Cavity-concerned parents and their children

3.            FedEx- When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight

4.            Michelin- Safety of your baby is more important than bargain tires

 3.            Targeting 

Who is your desired customer?

What are the buying habits/focus of your target market?  e.g., Are your customers more concerned about customer service, item selection, price, etc.?

How can you expand your market share?

II.        3 Bins of Information Used by Buyers

 1.         User Imagery 

      What types of customers do you associate with your product?

Can your average desired buyer user the product?

How can and does your business stand out from your competitors?

 2.            Context 

            Where do your business and products fit in the marketplace?

            How do competitors and potential buyers think of your business and products?

 3.            Product Information 

            What are the features and benefits of your products?

            Examples of Businesses

1.                  Marlboro (51% Market share)

Core User- Rugged, macho, independent men

Context- Badge of freedom and Great American West

Product- Full-flavored cigarette, flip top red box

Reality- Marlboro’s products are aimed at a small % of cigarette smokers, but its distinctive marketing has helped it capture the bulk of buyers

2.                  Michelin

Core User- Families

Context- Premium tires

Product- Greater peace of mind

3.                  Other Examples


Grey Poupon


 III.       Tips for Businesses


1.            Communicate a distinct benefit to your current and potential buyers

2.         Focus and sacrifice- Do not try to be everything to everyone

3.            Develop expertise and find your niche

4.         Decide whether you are going to be a generalist (e.g., Walmart- No real niche, competes on price) or specialist (e.g., In-N-Out- Only a few different hamburger choices, but their product is superb)

5.         Most businesses compete based on price- find something else to compete on (customer service, product line, outstanding branding, etc.).  Ex. Walmart v. Target- same basic element (low-price), but entirely different customers.

6.            Examine your competitors (those bigger than you, on the same level, those smaller than you, those that succeeded, those that failed, etc.) and non-competitors (those that succeeded, those that failed, etc.)

7.         Find ways to scale your business, but keep your eye on the bigger picture

8.         Find repeatables that complement your business

9.         Good design, positioning, and branding increases your credibility with current and potential buyers.  Look and feel and design is the #1 reason buyers purchase from a particular company/way to increase your credibility.

IV.            Understand Your Buyers

1.         What differentiates repeat buyers from one-time buyers or infrequent buyers?

2.         Why do customers purchase from you instead of your competition (price, products, customer service, freebies, branding, shopping experience, etc.)?

3.         How do you position your business as compared to your competitors?

4.         Do you differentiate your branding by channel/venue (ex. eBay v. Amazon)?  If so, how and why?

V.            Positioning Statement

 1.            Elements of Positioning Statement 

Especially for ___________ (brand lover)

            We are the ________ (frame of reference)

            That ___________ (point of difference)

            Because ________ (support)

 2.            Sample Positioning Statement: Yukon Sports 

            Especially for people who love the outdoors.  We are the online destination for high quality, high performance outdoor gear that enables you to feel more confident and perform at the highest level because we sell only the best brands and highest rated outdoor equipment.

When a postcard is not just a postcard

If you have never used Vista Print even if just for their FREE items, you should give them a try.  Not only do they have quality products and fast turnaround, they have a vast array of items that can work for advertising your business.

Let’s “think outside the box”…

* Postcards — create an ad on one/both sides and include your web address.   Use them as inserts in place of a business card.

* Invites — create a note to your customer, introducing a new product line, or an upcoming sale.

* Address stamp — use it for stamping ‘Thank You’ or a coupon code.

* Return labels — create a personalized seal (Thank you for your purchase…Old World Limited) and use instead of tape when wrapping purchases in tissue. 

* Return Labels — put your web addy on and use as stickers on your mailing packages.