Dear Reader

Robin Lewis“Value 101” from Professor Lewis: Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, defined differently and individually in every case. It is imperative to match the value created to the targeted buyer’s definition of value, both real and perceived, or the buyer will not purchase.

The conundrum that exists on both sides is… that the seller has a tendency to overestimate the value while the buyer underestimates. So, agreement between sellers and buyers as to fair value, and the total satisfaction of each, is seldom reached upon first engagement.

And by now, you’re falling asleep in my class. So how about this: the competitive path of least resistance – winning a sale by slashing price – has become “the road to hell, paved with good intentions.” This road is lined with so many sale signs, coupons, daily, weekly and monthly deals, outlet stores, booming off-price stores, and one new website after another with a better deal, that you can’t see the sun.

Blurred value, confused consumers hooked on finding the biggest discount, and retailers fighting hundreds of equal competitors to win the purchase, with “sales” accelerating downward as their weapon of choice, is a major characteristic of the madness in today’s marketplace.

If you want to dive deeper into devaluing hell, read this issue’s feature story Space Bubbles, Share Wars and Flat Tires. It’s not for the faint of heart.
But, we’ve provided some lighter fare in this issue as well. From the great minds at Kurt Salmon, insight into how shipping strategies at leading online retailers like Zappos and Amazon have moved beyond just a seasonal hook to become a core component of their brand’s value proposition.

Also in this issue, tips from Me-Ality on how to implement social media strategies so that “Like Us” translates to “Buy from Us.”

Cotton Incorporated’s article on Chinese consumers reveals that despite the shaky economic news coming out of China, consumer demand for goods and services is not slowing down any time soon. MasterCard Advisors predict that as the housing market bottoms out and starts to pick up in key parts of the country, furniture might be the next category to take the online space by storm.

As always, we offer thoughtprovoking insight by our columnists including Warren Shoulberg, who shares his views on the Battle for the Bottom in home, Jane Singer on Sale Shopping, and David Merrefield on why online grocery home delivery services are finally starting to turn a profit.

Let us hear from you.

And, as always, have a good read.

Robin Lewis About Robin Lewis

Robin Lewis has over forty years of strategic operating and consulting experience in the retail and related consumer products industries. He has held executive positions at DuPont, VF Corporation, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), and Goldman Sachs, among others, and has consulted for dozens of retail, consumer products and other companies. In addition to his role as CEO and Editorial Director of The Robin Report, he is a professor at the Graduate School of Professional Studies at The Fashion Institute of Technology.