Tuesday, January 08, 2008

These shoes were made for walkin'

So there were a LOT of topics in the last half of 2007 that I didn't take time to write about... but as you know one of my interests is in the online footwear battles... having been in that area from pretty much the start of it.

I couldn't help but notice the end of pretty much the last of the experiments of the "separate online shoe" entity... when Brown Shoe announced they were closing their shoes.com offices in LA and moving all operations to their St. Louis headquarters... and rolling the brand up into their direct to consumer efforts. For those of you who don't know who Brown Shoe is... they are the parent company of footwear brand such as Naturalizer, ViaSpiga, Buster Brown and the Famous Footwear retail chain.

It made nothing but sense to do this... even though some very good people in LA now found themselves "seeking new opportunities." The cost structure of that operation not sharing fundamental core services like merchandising... really made it hard for that operation to make a profit. We'll never know publicly whether or not it did because BWS doesn't report the P&L for the unit individually. But... in light of the currrent struggle on both the retail and wholesale sides of footwear... cutting the overhead was a good move.

I wish them luck as a competitor in the online shoe races... but with Zappos so far ahead now... and talking about breaking the billion barrier in 2008... you have to wonder whether or not it might be time to let shoes.com fade into the background along with sites like Webvan and BOO. I think it makes a very interesting case proving once and for all that owning what seems to be "the best" domain name... does NOT guarantee success.

Meatball Sundaes, Holiday Shopping and New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year to all 6 of you that have read this stale blog!!! I've finally decided with a little inspiration from one of my favorite personal blogs... that I needed to push myself back to the keyboard in 2008. I've found myself thinking that I'm "too busy to blog" but in hindsight... like anything else... there's time if you make it a priority. So... my resolution this year is to... make it a priority! I hope your new year is off to a good start... now let's get going!

Meatball Sundae:
Okay... for the casual reader this one may be a bit much but... I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Seth Godin's latest book, Meatball Sundae. I'm lucky enough that my employer has a wonderful library of books... and so I've reserved through there. Essentially though... the premise is that you can't "mashup" old marketing tactics with new marketing tactics... and expect to get better results.

I'm intrigued as to how he makes the case... but a blog post I read today about how one of my favorite examples of forcing a new marketing experiment (Bud.tv) really highlighted how a great company like A-B really doesn't get "it" when it comes to the new marketing ecosystem of Social Networking, WOM Marketing... and other "staples" of the new marketing era. Godin has authored some of the best recent marketing books out there... so I'm kind of geeked up here to see what this one will be like. By the time I'm done with this one... it should be time for Kelly Mooney's O.P.E.N. brand book to come out.... so my book reading for the first quarter is pretty much set!

Holiday Shopping:
Well it seems that quite a few of you LIKE to shop online. More than last year apparently. Hmmm... imagine that. :-) The growth in importance of online retailing can be illustrated in a thousand ways but, I think the fact that holiday online retail grew 20% year over year vs. the offline channel performance of about 5%... pretty much says it all. It is no lie that it has become tough sledding out there for even the best of traditional retailers, multi-channel retailers... and even some online only places. The effect of the overall performance of the US Economy and its' direct impact on the US Consumer's discretionary spending is well documented at this point. But... through it all... the retailers that have done the hard work to bring multi-channel marketing/retailing and customer-centricity to their DNA... are the ones that will weather this storm.

2008 shapes up to be the real test for multi-channel retailing in my view. Has it matured enough to be a differentiating factor for retailers? You only find out when the going gets tough... and I think that's pretty much happening now. I don't usually bet... but I bet you can figure out where I stand on this one. :-)

New Year's Resolutions:
So... how many did you make this year? 1? 5? more? I have decided to make one. Here it is. "Get er' dun!" (imagine best "Larry the Cable Guy" voice). Too many things like this blog were left "half done" in 2007. It is time to get up and get it done. ALL of it. We'll see how it goes but... at least we've got a start here right?

I'd love to hear from you any time. You can comment, or MEEBOME anytime you see me online (in the right hand side of the blog!).