It critically assesses the distinctiveness of the marketing strategy approach of these companies, when compared to traditional retailers.
It also tries to predict the likely future of retailing and the role on online retailers. It finally discusses more general implications for strategy theory and practice of the growth of online retailers.
Online retailing refers to the process enabling consumers to buy goods and services through the Internet, with the retailer being referred to as a virtual store, online store, web-store, web-shop, internet shop, e-store or online shop. It is a type of electronic commerce used for business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) transactions. This form of shopping has penetrated many aspects of our life, especially since the 1990s, linking us to a capitalist way of life in our everyday living. It enables us purchase whatever we require, whenever we require it.
Online stores have the advantage of convenience since they are available round the clock and the buyers can access them from at the convenience of their homes and work. This is unlike the traditional physical stores that can only be accessed during the official working hours. Moreover, many online stores give links to supplementary product information like manufacturer's specifications, demonstrations, safety procedures and instructions. This form of shopping also enables a consumer to search and compare prices among various vendors by use of search engines.
Backcountry's success story: A case study
Backcountry was founded in 1996 with a mere $2,000 capital as a pure online retailer focusing on outdoor gear. It stated making profits in 1997, exactly a year after its founding, experiencing a triple digit growth six years in a row that culminated to 134 per cent in 2003. In 2004, Backcountry's sales revenue was $27.5 million dollars, an 84 per cent increase from the previous year's $14.7 million. These figures further rose by 89 per cent in 2005, settling at $52 million.
The company earned great reputation for providing good quality outdoor gear on its website www.backcountry.com. Moreover, the company created niche sites aimed at addressing specific needs for of target groups and catering for distinct customers. For instance, the price-sensitive athletes had www.explore64.com, bargain seekers www.SteepandCheap.com and www.backcountry.com, snowboarders www.dogfunk.com while hardcore skiers had www.tramdock.com.
In 2002 Backcountry implemented a new customer service solution known as 'click-to-chat technology.' This earned the company many chatting interactions that resulted to improved customer satisfaction ratings as well as increased sales volumes. The company was therefore among the very first online retailers to adopt the live chat technology, earning itself the title of an established industry innovator. The company however soon realized that this technology only improved customer satisfaction levels without translating to increased sales.
In order to leverage its employees' expertise and maximize its profitability, the retailer ventured into transforming