The on-going attraction and retention of consumers on a site is a difficult objective due to the many factors that must be taken into account.  You have found that the initial attraction of consumers to a site can be very intimidating and also very difficult because there are so many different aspects and methods that must be taken into account to achieve the desired results.  The simple fact of the matter is that the term ‘initial attraction’ really describes the entire effect and is only a fragile beginnin of the relationship with the consumer.  The on-going attraction and retention efforts make up the marathon of the relationship and these require a continuous focus and drive to maintain.

Think of the consumer relationship in terms of an iceberg; the initial attraction is the actions and offerings that you see above the water, then the on-going attraction and retention are all of the actions and offerings that you don’t think about that are under the water.  The scariest part of the iceberg is the volume and makeup of the ice under water.  So it should come as no surprise that the scariest part of the consumer relationship is the volume and makeup of the actions and activities to succeed in the on-going attraction and retention of consumers.  As with any major and especially a business impactful undertaking you must break it down into pieces that can be achieved to develop and maintain a momentum and culture of achievement.

The first step in developing your strategy is to define your objective or how you want to attract consumers to your site, for example your strategy may be low price or uncommon products or a community.  Your strategy must be able to sustain your community though and will direct the tone of the relationship with your members.  I suggest a strategy that will not be driven by price, this is a losing proposition because there is always another site that will offer a lower price.  Your strategy should focus on the unique practices and offerings that allow you to maintain an on-going attraction and long term retention of your members.  In addition, you must constantly refine and revise your on-going attraction and retention strategy to maintain a fresh viewpoint.  This fresh viewpoint along with a focus on direct interaction with the consumer will help to maintain an on-going attraction.

I suggest a focus on community because this builds a real commitment from the consumer.  A sense of community built on service, selection and relationships will encourage and maitain the retention of the community members as opposed to a price focused strategy which only gives one reason for consumers to return.  What we find over and over is that consumers are searching for a sense of community, where they belong and can exchange recommendations and suggestions with other consumers and most importantly with the retailer.  The retailer should focus on the soft values to retain customers and this will bring the hard value of increased sales.  The benefit of this focus is that the return and the increases in sales are built on a solid, long term, foundation rather than the fickle search for low cost.       


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?