business news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times writes about what it calls “a new breed of e-commerce sites” that combine “old-fashioned and new-fangled methods for luring customers. They present users with a limited selection of jewelry, shoes and accessories by coupling software algorithms that determine personal style with strategies culled from home shopping TV channels and CD-of-the-month clubs.”

Essentially, the sites use quizzes and tracking software to analyze what people like and buy, and then use the information to offer them more targeted merchandise that is designed to appeal to their sensibilities ... and, in many cases, get them to move beyond buying just what they need and inspire them to buy what they like and want.

According to the Times, “The sites are the latest example of retailers inventing new ways to shop online. The recent flurry of innovation in e-commerce has also produced private sale sites like Gilt and daily deal sites like Groupon. Like those, these shopping clubs aim to filter the seemingly infinite options online and show a small selection, catered to an individual’s taste.”
KC's View:
Retailers that do now know who their customers are, what they are buying, when they shop, and how their attitudes and priorities are formed, are probably working from a competitive disadvantage. Over the long run, it may be an untenable position to maintain.