Earlier this month I attended the Internet Retailing Conferences where lecturing e-commerce gurus were delving into your e-life and identifying which social expression products to sell you. Yes, you heard me right. This is what we have become: “e-lives” and consumers of “social expression products”. In fact, this is the good news – at least these identities recognize us as part human. With most of these mavens, we are merely data crunched for statistical analysis.
Remember when the Internet held a promise of increased communication between real merchants and real customers? Well forget about it. E-commerce is fast becoming a numbers racket run by computers. Buy a white wool sweater for $50 and be prepared for a barrage of email selling you white wool socks, white wool underwear, all manner of apparel in the $50 price range – and that’s only in the reply email thanking you for your sweater purchase. More “touch point” opportunities for selling or “branding” (yes, you are also cattle) are coming. Your buying information is sliced and diced, run through analytics software, segmented for reply, and if you have a 2.4% chance of buying something from a “basket of goods” instead of this basket’s mean 1.8%, you receive the automatic “A” email rather than the “B”. None of this should come as a surprise to any of us who have lived in this crazy capitalist culture, but what has changed is the enormous use of technology in marketing. The idea of having privacy with regard to your Internet behavior is as anachronistic as telegraph communication.
The conference had 3,000 attendees and eighty speakers. For three solid days starting at 8:00 AM and going until 5:00 PM, sometimes later, we attendees listened to strategy after strategy as to how more effectively to separate people from their money. Nothing else was discussed. Not a beep (not a quick aside, not a fast reference or analogy, not a short digression) about the war in Iraq, global warming, AIDS in Africa – nothing, but “Marketing Your Retail Website”, “Taking E-Retailing to the Next Level”, etc, non-stop, ad nauseum. And I learned a lot. I have come home with many “takeaways” (you gotta love their jargon). I will try and do a better job at creating a “customer-centric” business (for my money, the conference’s most important theme). Beyond that, I can slice you and dice you in efforts to sell you more hats, but I’d rather divulge “Big Brother” (of course I have no illusions about stemming the tide – we’re most likely doomed) and when it comes time for you to buy new a hat, hope you’ll remember our site.
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