e-Merchant: Retail Strategies for e-Commerceby Joanne Neidorf, Robin Neidorf
e-Merchant: Retail Strategies for e-Commerce provides a step-by-step tour through the world of e-retail merchandising and management, beginning with the fundamentals: defining and differentiating your business, as well as filling a niche. From there, you will explore the vital, yet often misunderstood, topics of assortment planning, merchandising, inventory management, pricing and promotion, profitability, vendor relations, and organizational structure. Throughout, these business essentials are placed in the context of the Web medium, noting the ways that the Web can lower entry barriers, enhance product presentation, better target customers, create customer relationships through site content, increase flexibility of pricing and product offerings, improve vendor relations, and more.
Two e-retail examples run throughout the book to illustrate how these principles are put to work. In addition, case studies based on interviews with real-world e-retailers reveal how these principles have been adapted by businesses of all sizes, with a range of markets and products.
Whether you are a Web-based business needing to understand sound retailing concepts or you are working with Web-based retailers and want to understand their businesses from the inside out, e-Merchant integrates traditional retail and e-retail, showing how to survive and thrive.
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What This Book Is
The Web is an interactive, collaborative environment. Fittingly, this book is both interactive and collaborative as well. We two authors entered our partnership, each with our specialties and insights, and together have created something neither of us could have described when we started.
As collaborations go, ours faced some unique challenges. We are sistersa factor that could simplify and/or complicate our work together. Throughout the research and writing process, Joanne lived in Sweden while Robin lived in Minneapolis. We communicated, trading outlines, chapters, notes, ideas, and more, primarily via e-mail.
From the perspective of the culmination of the project, we find that our work on this book has been a fairly precise microcosm of how electronic communication, trust, and focus can enable effective collaborations. The promise of the Internet age can be fulfilled, as long as we are willing and able to adapt our methods, not only for working and research but also for shopping.
What This Book Isn't
With so many e-related books available, it seems important to add a few words about where this book fits into the landscape of resources: This is not "the only book you will need" to plan and run an e-retail site. Our focus is strictly on merchant functions and merchandising, touching on topics like business plans, site design, customer service, and order fulfillment only as they intersect with the merchant's responsibilities.
Why this restriction? In our review of the existing resources, we found that the merchant element of e-retail has been given scant (if any) attention. Joanne's hands-on experience as abuyer made the work of the merchant familiar territory, even in an unfamiliar medium. At the same time, Robin's work as a Web researcher and content analyst and writer gave her insight into the way people effectively use the online environment to advance their business goals.
To cover other subjects ranging from general business planning, marketing and promotion, to warehouse management would have taxed our partnership. More to the point, we saw no reason to reinvent the Web, so to speak. Others have covered and will cover those topics better than we ever could.
Who Should Read This Book
Anyone who works in any capacity with an e-retail site but does not understand the fundamentals of retail will benefit from this book. Entrepreneurs, business owners seeking to diversify their online revenue streams, consultants, and Web designers and programmers will also find an easy-to-understand introduction to the principals of retail.
In researching this book, particularly the case studies in Chapter 10, we heard the frequent lament that e-retail organizations must overcome a gaping cultural disconnect before they can be effective. Merchants must understand the strategy, construction, and maintenance of a Web store, just as they understand brick-and-mortar stores. Programmers and designers must understand the goals of the Web merchant to create and implement sites that further those goals. Our intent is that e-Merchant: Retail Strategies for e-Commerce helps organizations of all sizes and types overcome the language barriers that have tripped them in the past.
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