I was surprised to read earlier today how 'content' and 'community' appear to be gaining a renewed life with online retailers in a NYTimes article entitled "More E-Commerce Sites Aim to Add 'Sticky' Content". How could content and community ever not have been a central component of online retailers' strategy?
As I had mentioned in our study of Netflix last week, I see the fundamental 'service strategy' of any digital player to comprise of content, commerce, community and communications all built around the customer in a customer-centric model. Combined these form the C5 service strategy that I advocate.
Interestingly on the Content front, Stuart MacDonald, a senior VP at Expedia states that "We've always seen content as very important, but recently we've taken it to the next level. For a lot of people, the trip almost starts when they start to plan. To the extent we can make that easier and more fun, it's good for business. It's a significant investment but the reson we do it is that we get the return." I find it particularly relevant to see how a player like Expedia continues to expand upon delivering end-to-end solutions and his statement about involving the company at the earliest stages of the purchasing decision process will in my view have some very significant financial rewards in both the short and long term.
Meanwhile, Elaine Rubin a senior VP at 1-800-Flowers.com and chairwoman of Shop.org said that she had "seen a resurgence of interest in how to do community. Not message boards or chat rooms, but new ways to get consumers helping others. The idea with community is that people who post things to the site will come back more frequently because they're more engaged. They've left a piece of themselves behind." Stated in this manner one could argue that blogs would form an extremely complementary functionality to any company's community implementations. As she goes on to mention this is just "another dimension of how we can build value for customers", which in a customer-centric model is what must matter above all else.