Q & A: Jeff Bennett, Lycos V.P. of E-Commerce
Earlier this week, Lycos launched the Lycos Merchant Center, a storefront-building utility, whose tools include store-building software, real-time credit card processing services and integrated order management and payment processing applications.
According to the company, even with little or no programming experience, e-merchants can be ready to open their doors and begin selling in less than 10 minutes. The Lycos Merchant Center is aimed at e-tailers who want to become players during the explosive Christmas e-tailing season.
"Merchants who want to make their first foray into e-commerce or want to extend their e-commerce penetration significantly can now take advantage of the huge audience reach of the Lycos Network with a minimum of effort," Bennett said. "The biggest shopping season of the year is rapidly approaching, and the Lycos Merchant Center can simplify what could otherwise be a time-consuming, complicated process."
"For most merchants there's not enough time left to build a store from scratch in time for the holiday shopping season. With the Lycos Merchant Center, merchants can build a store in a matter of minutes," continued Bennett.
Q: Bo Peabody, the president of Tripod and vice president of network strategy for Lycos has been quoted as saying that Lycos does not have a top-tier brand in the e-commerce space....he said Lycos will be very aggressive in partnering and acquiring...when will we start seeing this?
A:No one has really claimed a top-tier position in the whole online shopping space. There are a number of strong niche players, but to date, no one is satisfying online consumer needs broadly. Lycos is working on the whole shopping experience and in the coming months will make a number of announcements which will position it to take the lead in online commerce.
Q:Why did Lycos pick OrderTrust's integrated network services for order processing, fulfillment, accounting, etc.?
A:OrderTrust is simply the best choice for these services. They bring years of experience and the kind of solid, well-earned reputation that is necessary to give users the sense of security with their online transactions, a key issue with most potential online consumers.
Q: The portals seem to have different e-commerce strategies: Excite focuses on referring users to merchant partners and collects a fee for the service, acting as a merchandiser. How would you categorize Lycos' approach to e-commerce?
A:Lycos is focusing on the customer rather than the transaction. We are building a comprehensive online shopping experience that will satisfy the consumers' needs throughout the entire shopping process. We have also chosen to construct an open shopping environment where merchants are not restricted to one look-and-feel or one method for integration into the shopping experience.
Q:What's the incentive for someone to buy a book via BarnesandNoble.com on Lycos rather than going straight to the BarnesandNoble.com site? Why would e-tailers want to have a presence on the Lycos Shopping Network?
A:Merchants can become part of a broader, more comprehensive experience by integrating into Lycos Shopping than they would be able to accomplish on their own. Shopping is oftentimes more than just going to a store and picking up a specific items.
Users research areas of interest using our navigation tools, share information with like-minded enthusiasts in our community spaces, and make purchases of not only books, to use your example, but also related items from many categories. A shopping destination like Lycos' will enable shoppers to experience all the enjoyable aspects of off-line shopping in one convenient location.
Q: Any advice for e-commerce newcomers who want to get their business rolling online?
A:First, build a store at the Lycos Merchant Center. Online stores need the same marketing considerations that off-line stores do. They need to analyze the customer's needs and develop a marketing plan using the right online tools to get the messages delivered. Only a portal like Lycos can provide the complete mix of store building and promotional tools that will drive traffic to the site.
Q:Are there any Internet heroes out there regarding e-commerce?
A: Esther Dyson, Vernon Keenan and Carl Rosendorf are a few I admire. All three have extraordinary vision when it comes to e-commerce.
Q:Where do you see the future of e-commerce goingis it overblown, or will the Goliaths gobble the Davids?
A:E-commerce will be huge, and if the merchants and portals work to really satisfy the customers' needs, it could be bigger than any of the hype even predicts. There's bound to be a shakeout at some point, but e-commerce is going to be one of those organic applications on the Web that keep growing and growing.
Let's hope so!
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