E-Tailer's Experiences Phenomenal Growth With Heads-Up Approach
By Greg Miller, Star Staff
RUTHERFORD, N.J. April 24, 1998 - Although E-Tailer's Digest may be new to the Internet world of e-zines, co-publishers George Matyjewicz and Gary Foote are using a positive, heads-up approach to rapidly increase their circulation base. After just the first two weeks, E-Tailer's circulation had risen to about 400 subscribers from 35 nations.
Matyjewicz's ultimate goal is to provide a central source of information for retailers globally. "As the Net brings together business folks worldwide, E-Tailer's Digest will help retailers learn from the experiences of others," he said. "Our goal is to have 4,000 members the first year."
The purpose of E-Tailer's Digest, according to Matyjewicz, who also serves as moderator, is "to provide a total resource for retailers. If a retailer is planning on opening a store on the Net, or just looking for some help with their physical or Cyber retail operation, they should join the E-Tailer's Digest, where we discuss any and all subjects that pertain to retailing.
"Such subjects might include, but of course not limited to, interaction with customers, psychographics, point of sale software solutions, point of purchase displays, security issues, effective merchandising, mail order issues, shipping and tax issues, accounting and legal issues, public relations, promotions and advertising, on-line marketing, differentiation, doing business internationally and effective web site design.
"The E-Tailer's Digest also includes tips and pointers to articles and information of interest to E-Tailer's. But, the most important element of any good list is its members, from real world retailers, accountants, academia, suppliers and consultants."
When using the Internet for retailing purposes, a merchant needs to think globally, according to Matyjewicz. "The Net will affect retailing worldwide, not just in America," he said. "According to a recent survey by Nua, a consultancy from Europe that does a lot of surveys, there are 20 million Net surfers in Europe, and that number is growing.
"And it may come as a surprise to you that 51 percent of Americans who use the Internet do so to access local information such as news, entertainment listings and local businesses. By the end of 1998, there will be 48 million people in the U.S. searching on the Internet, and more than 24 million (18 million in 1997) will be searching for local merchants only.
"Who is the Net 'surfer?' According to the Georgia Institute of Technology, Graphic, Visualization & Usability Center (GVU) survey, the profile of the Internet 'surfer' is 37 years old with an annual family income of $53,300; 85.7 percent have some college; 40.2 percent are married; 88.1 percent are Caucasian; 63.4 percent have been on the Net one year or more; 68.1 percent bought on the Net in last six months of 1997; it is almost evenly divided between men and women.
"The reason they shop the Net is convenience, availability of vendor/product information, no sales person pressure and to save time. And 39 percent of those who surf the Net looking for products will also shop at your store!
"The Net will change the way we shop and the way a retailer will merchandise. To set up a 'new store' on the Net is 10-20 percent of the cost of setting up a physical store, which means a smart retailer will spend money more intelligently...promoting the business.
"Eighteen months ago, if somebody asked what made sense to sell on the Net, the answer would have been computers and merchandise that sold for under $100. Today, anything goes. One of our list members purchased a house on the net, sight unseen, and she never even met the attorney who did the closing!"
E-Tailer's Digest is geared toward all retail establishment owners, according to Matyjewicz. "We have a mix - gifts, fashion, furniture, hard goods, soft goods, etc.," he said. "I owned a five-store high-tech chain and have consulted for retailers for over two decades. There are different requirements for different retailers, i.e., fashion needs open-to-buy, furniture needs, radio frequency devices. Some need EDI. All need POS and scanning. And we have retailers from 35 countries worldwide, with even different issues, taxes, shipping, paying, legal, etc."
Matyjewicz believes it is very important for E-Tailer's subscribers to network with each other. "In retailing, there are gorillas and guerrillas," he said. "Gorillas are noted for mega-buying, low selling prices, lower margins and higher inventory turns. They also have a high level of promotion and use of demographics and an excellent use of technology. Some noted gorillas include Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Limited, and Toys R Us.
"Guerrillas focus on service, micro-marketing, relationship marketing and 'psychographics' vs. demographics. They experience a higher selling margin (service yields 10 percent higher), higher inventory turns and higher margins. They also have an excellent use of technology. Some guerrillas include Mrs. Fields Cookies, Silverman's, Units and Wakefield's.
"Smaller retailers don't have the resources to understand what it takes to grow successfully. E-Tailer's Digest is designed to provide that assistance."
Response to E-Tailer's Digest has been "excellent," according to Matyjewicz. "The membership has steadily increased, and we are getting very positive comments from list members and referrals from other list owners. Members are helping us promote the list. Ten members asked for an announcement of the purpose of the list so they could submit it to the media in their local area. One list member posted the details of the list to their Web site (that gets tens of thousands of visitors a month, all retailers). Educators are telling other educators.
Matyjewicz anticipates that subscriptions will always be free. "Even though the direction of the Net seems to be going towards a paying environment, we want E-Tailer's Digest to be a free resource. As the list grows, we may consider other forms of membership on a fee basis, but it is too early to tell."
E-Tailer's Digest is sent free via e-mail each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. To receive a subscription, send an e-mail request to etd(at)gapent.com
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