ETailers focus on long tail, multichannel, holidays

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WASHINGTON - The long tail is alive and well for online retailers, as Chris Anderson's much-revered idea about providing an endless number of products was mentioned throughout the eTail conference.

In yesterday's opening session, "One Size Does Not Fit All: Revolution of the Online Buyer Experience," Jamie Iannone, VP of the buying experience at eBay, discussed the benefits of having an endless product offering.

"Being able to provide a highly varied product line for all kinds of niche markets will engage a large number of consumers," he said.

A giant product offering combined with an offline offering is another way to engage consumers and increase sales.

In "Developing a Multichannel Marketing Strategy That Is Consistent Across Channels and Customer-Focused From Inception," Shane Evangelist, SVP of Blockbuster Online, discussed how Blockbuster has increased its customer base by combining its online and offline services.

The multichannel retailer has taken on competitor Netflix to offer a similar monthly subscription service at a lower fee, and offers an in-store bonus, aiming to draw customers in both online and offline channels.

Another topic at the show was the preparation for the holidays. Norm Thompson Outfitters, ToysRus.com and eBay are all preparing for this year's holiday campaigns based on metrics from last year.

"We are going to be offering more online promotions this year, like extending free shipping dates closer to Christmas, to encourage customers to shop online closer to the holiday," said Mark Ebel, director of online marketing, in a panel called "Uncovering the Holiday Preparedness Checklist."

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