Live from the Lenser Summit: Get Rich or Die

San Raphael, CA—If you’re still thinking like a cataloger, “you need to change the way you think,” according to Ken Burke, chairman/founder/chief evangelist of online consultancy Marketlive.

In a turbo-charged presentation to attendees of the Lenser Client Summit on Oct. 4, Burke warned catalogers that they were in danger of being left in the dust by some retailers and pure-plays that have been quicker to embrace some of the latest Internet innovations.

For starters, Burke said, start thinking about your business from your customer’s point of view. “When we build our sites, everything is done from the merchant’s perspective—what about the customer?” Don’t just assume you know what your customers need, he noted, “you only learn by asking them.” Your customers are into you, and they want to provide feedback, so make sure you ask for it and pay attention to it, he said.

Merchants should work to bring more product information up in front of the customer on Web pages, Burke said, and they should concentrate on theme-based navigation. According to Marketlive research, “what’s new” is the number-one clicked on button. “If you don’t have one, add one,” he said.

Customer ratings and reviews are also important, Burke said, citing Jupiter research that finds 77% of online shoppers seek reviews before purchasing. A/B tests have shown that “customers migrate to items with the ratings,” he added.

Going forward, merchants must view online shopping as a form of entertainment, not just a functional way to buy products, Burke said. That means incorporating rich Internet applications, such as increased video integration.

For instance, you might include video on your site to demonstrate how a higher-value item works, he explained. Gifts and home goods merchant Frontgate has a video to show the features of its AeroGarden indoor garden kit.

While you should know the basics of the equipment to create content such as videos and podcasts, don’t worry about it looking too professional, Burke said. “Sometimes the more raw a video is, the more credible it is.”

It’s important for merchants to be thinking about things like rich media, value added, content, RSS feeds, social networking, and blogging—now. “Do it by then end of 2008 or you’ll be left behind,” Burke warned. He advised marketers not to take the stance, “I’m a cataloger—I don’t have time.” If you don’t make time, “you’re going to go out of business,” he said.

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