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The Dangers of Speed and Size in E-Commerce

by Michael A. Kamins  |  
February 20, 2001

Here's a story for you . . .

I was recently hired to help a well-known Internet company quickly grow its idea to survey general web users. The concept relies heavily on the principles of marketing strategy and research. The development team, I soon found out, had not a single member with such relevant experience. In fact, the team thought that marketing expertise was irrelevant. What mattered most to them was getting the service to market fast.

My client, like so many other capable companies, was racing to get to market first. But they were doing so at the expense of establishing a defensible, creative and flexible long-term market strategy. This is the problem with trying to hit the market too fast - not having thought through a marketing plan that is robust.


When it comes to being first on the market recent research shows that the pioneer advantage may just be a myth. Instead, it's long-term market leadership that may better generate brand recognition and profit. Being a market leader, it turns out, often means taking the time to develop a plan - even if it means being second out there with the product.

Here are some examples of this to consider. Let's start with Arguably, they were the first to develop the idea of selling books on the net. Truly, this was a creative idea that merited the need to get to market first. However, what is also needed is consideration of the fact that once you get there how do you stay there? That is, you know that the "me-too followers" are going to come along: Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million & many others. They all did, so the age-old marketing question remains how can you differentiate yourself from the other competitors so that you can keep your distinguished and profitable place in the market?


The answer here is not simple and requires an in-depth analysis of the market situation, something that cannot be done in a matter of minutes. Hence, the philosophy of doing things quickly falls down in the face of the need for the development of creative marketing strategy to counteract the forceful effects of competition.

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