Julie Schoenfeld, president and CEO at Net Effect said: "They've been busy getting their sites up and running. When you think about it, there was virtually no ecommerce two years ago. Now that it's growing tremendously, real-time customer service is the next logical step."
Schoenfeld also revealed that only 5.75 percent of the people who visit e-commerce sites even try to make a purchase. In a full page article in the Daily Mail in July 1999, Rachael Snowden, tried to buy on-line in the UK. Sites claimed to be able to deliver products in a day and took up to 26 days, one supplier took over a month (but took the money in advance) and products were unavailable. The reputation of these companies on-line and in high circulating newspapers is being tarnished by this lack of responsiveness.
The Internet society is well aware that these mistakes need not be made. A number of them have seen the TNT site which shows customers precisely where their products are in the distribution chain. They also know that taking an item off the Web site when it goes out of stock is not the hardest click of a button in a well constructed site and also know how simple it is to charge, without causing offence over the Internet. While these issues are company process issues, the cost to reputation in the Internet Society is high. Brand values on the Internet will stay at a low ebb until these simple processes are properly managed.
There are exceptions to the general rule of poor delivery. The top sites for the number of different people visiting them have substantial brand equity because they deliver. It comes as little surprise that organisations that are used to delivering their product accurately and fast buck the trend Top on-line sites tend to be news sites. MSNBC claims an on-line audience of four million, CNN 2 million ABC news 1.6 million. The BBC attracts one of the largest audiences among Europeans. If you look at the presence of these companies it is powerful on-line and off-line. The BBC mentions its Web site several times every hour. So does CNN. MSN provide access to its news channel from its software CD’s as well as its browser.
There are many forms of Internet marketing. Ambassador promotion is yet another. Many organisations have supporters and friends who put up Web sites about their products, services, ideals and campaigns.
This Kodak enthusiast is one of the millions of personal Web sites. They crop up everywhere. Chris lives in the Channel Isles. On the face of it, Kodak will be very happy to have such an enthusiast providing extra exposure world-wide. Of course this is an enthusiast and his Web site offers an opportunity to ensure that he continues to promote the brand through this Web presence.
A creative reputation manager will use such an opportunity to advance the brand as well as new (and mature) products. A good customer retention opportunity. On the other hand there is a problem.
Here is the Kodak brand, its logo and corporate identity being plagiarised on the Internet. It raises issues of trade mark and copyright. For some companies the solution will be to reach for the lawyers and attempt to have the logo removed. As we shall see, it happens. There tend to be tears.
Effective Internet reputation management can protect the reputation, rights and companies’ investment in corporate image and identity. It will also save a fortune on legal fees!
In this case, the alternative is for a customer oriented person to offer the ‘proper logo’ with its trademark symbol and some help with the site. A friend can become a real ambassador.