Al Gore

Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.

Having had a couple of days to regroup and recover from last week's Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago, I wanted to take the opportunity this space provides me to offer my thoughts on the event. So, in no particular order, here they are:

Plurk? Twitter? FriendFeed? Utterz? Social networking is all the rage. Everyone seems to want to know more about Web 2.0. That’s especially unfortunate for traditional catalogers and direct marketers whose sites are still at Web .05. Here are the reasons: • These days, most businesses get more than enough Web traffic. • They just don’t know how to convert it effectively. • And to mask their inability to actually enable people to easily add stuff to their carts and check out seamlessly, these companies send more and more traffic to flawed sites. Short term, it can be a great idea. Long term, it’s

By Arthur Middleton Hughes Despite the downturn in the stock market, catalogs today are flourishing and have become the most successful direct marketing vehicles ever invented. Why is this so? Lightning fast fulfillment. Remember "allow six to eight weeks for delivery?" Who can stay in business today saying that? Many catalogers today even offer next-day service. That means that they have had to streamline their warehouses, with UPS and FedEx trucks constantly backed up to their doors. Massive exchange of names. North America is about the only place in the world where you can rent names of mail order buyers. Almost everywhere

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