Pundits Say The Darndest Things

SAN FRANCISCO (01/28/2000) - Ellen Neuborne, Business Week eBiz Upshot: E-commerce companies shouldn't be spending zillions on TV ads, they should be bonding with us. They should use experiential marketing.

Experiential What? It's "a method of creating an experience for the consumer so moving that a bond is created between shop and shopper." In other words, Starbucks tries to make its customers feel cool; Disney tries to make them feel like a kid again. They get loyal customers without "sales, coupons or other come-ons."

Warm, Fuzzy Web sites: Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com recommend books tailored to your past buys - that's experiential marketing. Wal-Mart.com personalizes its site to reflect what you click on most often. "These are elements that make a cold computer seem more friendly, more relevant to the consumer."

Quote: "No one ever became a loyal shopper after seeing an ad."

George Skelton, LA Times

Upshot: Politicians won't endorse e-commerce taxes, but maybe they should.

The Fine Print: If you buy online from an in-state e-commerce company, you technically owe sales tax. If you buy from an out-of-state U.S. firm, you owe a "use" tax similar to a sales tax, but it's pretty much unenforceable for individual consumers. For some reason, airline tickets are exempt from both taxes.

Quote: "The pols - Gov. Gray Davis, most legislators, all the presidential candidates - will argue straight-faced that the Internet is a baby and needs loving, gentle care to fully mature. ... Based on reports of all the megamergers and budding billionaires, however, it's apparent that this baby soon will be a brute."

Chet Dembeck, E-Commerce Times

Upshot: The Clinton administration asked Congress to give the FDA $10 million to regulate online pharmacies. Pseudo-pharmacies caught filling prescriptions they shouldn't will be nailed with $500K-per-violation fines.

The Obstacles: "Disqualified online pharmacies can be restarted under a different name in a matter of hours. Moreover, it has been estimated that half of the offending sites on the FDA's target list are outside its jurisdiction."

Better Luck This Time: "[O]ne would only hope that this initiative did not become another bottomless pit for taxpayer money like the 'War on Drugs.'"

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