Tax Attack! (Internet Retailer)

Taxing Internet PurchasesSince the emergence of online retailing in the mid-1990s, retailers running store-based outlets have complained that online retailers have an advantage because they are often not required to collect sales tax.  This exemption from collecting sales tax has to do with a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said retailers without a physical presence in a state that has a sales tax are not required to collect sales tax when selling to someone in that state.  While the Court was evaluating this issue in terms of direct mail companies, the Court’s decision has also been applied to online retailers.

The “No Middleman” Middlemen (Stores Magazine)

Selling Consumer Packaged Goods Over the InternetA key factor leading to success in retailing is to be the first with a unique business proposition.  For instance, for McDonalds it was understanding that customers often want fast service rather than high quality products.  For Home Depot it was taking a small hardware store business model and expanding it to a size that dwarfed mom-and-pop stores.  For Amazon it was offering an enormous variety of products that customers could conveniently purchase on their computer but, due to shipping time, were also willing to wait some time before they could enjoy.

For a new retailer, finding the right features to distinguish them from their competitors has become more difficult as existing retailers have easy access to market research that keys them in to what others are doing.  Yet, sometimes a smart, hard-working retailer discovers an angle that sets them apart.

The Web's New Gold Mine: Your Secrets (Wall Street Journal)

Tracking Web VisitorsThe Wall Street Journal is running an excellent series on how websites track visitors.  From a marketing perspective, tracking, which is part of website analytics, is an essential marketing research tool.  For marketers tracking has several uses.  First, it is used to provide information on who is visiting a website as it offers such details as how visitors got to the site (e.g., search engine query), the amount of time visitors spend on each page of a site, visitors’ geographic location and much more.  Second, and much more important, tracking is used for determining what promotional options to deliver to the visitor.  That is, what type of advertisements are shown.

Men's Jewelry: A Recession-Proof Luxury (Time)

Men and High-End JewelryVanity purchases occur when a customer buys a product with the intention of using it to enhance or support their perceived personality or, as we call it in the Consumer Buying Behavior tutorial, their self concept. The most well known example of this is the personalized license plate, though many other products also fall into this category such as designer clothing, sports cars, housing and jewelry. From this short list, it is pretty clear vanity purchases skew toward high-end, expensive offerings, and are most frequently bought by high-income buyers.

How LEGO Revived Its Brand (BusinessWeek)

Lego Learns Marketing LessonOne of the trickiest decisions facing marketers is deciding when to move beyond what has made them successful and tackle something new.  This is because at some point, nearly all companies find growing their business requires they branch out into new areas that are often unfamiliar.  For instance, companies will begin marketing new products that are significantly different compared to the products that made them successful.  Or maybe they continue to produce the same products but target markets they previously did not target.