Blogging in Retail

Dorf%204K.JPGOne of my favorite computing topics these days is the use of Web 2.0 technologies for enterprise software. Things like blogging, tagging, and collaboration open up many possibilities for the way in which we go about our jobs. Information has always been an important corporate asset, so finding new ways to share and leverage information is critical to business, including the retail industry.

Sophisticated retailers are embracing Web 2.0 as a way to get closer to their customers. I recently came across some interesting blogs from the likes of Wal-Mart, Urban Outfitters, and Neiman Marcus. They each take a slightly different approach, and their brand is definitely reflected in their blog content.

The Wal-Mart site is focused on products, but not in a pushy, selling sort of way. The conversational blogs talk about what's coming, and why readers should be interested. They include the ability for readers to vote on product ideas, which is presumably yet another way for buyers to gauge interest in categories and products. Their goal seems more collaborative and interactive, without targeting any particular customer segment. They feel very down-to-earth.

The Urban Outfitters site seems more interested in reinforcing their image as a hip, global trend-setter. This too can be a valuable marketing tool. Their blog content is focused on lifestyle and doesn't really mention their products directly. It says, "hey, if you like the stories on this site, you're going to love these clothes..."

The Neiman Marcus site has the upscale, sophisticated look that aligns with their department stores. Their blog content highlights products in the context of life. Its clearly directed at women, and makes no attempt to attract other segments of the population. There's lots of stories on fashion, make-up, and style.

While I don't think these sites are moving the needle in terms of revenue, they do represent a new way of marketing to customers, and additional ways to understand the demand chain. It will be interesting to see how things evolve.

My hope is that this blog will serve as a place where ideas are shared and information exchanged. In addition to subscribing to this blog's RSS feed, I encourage readers to also join the Oracle Retail group at Oracle Mix. Both of these resources will gain in value as more comments are posted, so don't be shy -- let's hear what you think!

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David Dorf, Sr Director Technology Strategy for Oracle Retail, shares news and ideas about the retail industry with a focus on innovation and emerging technologies.


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