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Figure 3-2 Finding a Dealer
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The dealers provide you with their information plus their email address. Then, when customers come to your Web site and ask for a local dealer, if the customers give you permission, you can send their names to the dealer for follow-up.
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In 1997, Citigroup, the parent company of Citibank, launched e-Citi, a Web bank that was designed to compete with Citibank itself and other parts of the $230 billion company. Citigroup put a lot of resources into the venture. Within 3 years the Web bank had 1600 employees and 100 different Web sites. Between 1998 and 2000, Citigroup spent $1.1 billion on the effort. It was a gigantic failure. By March of 2000, when Citigroup called it to a halt, the venture had only 30,000 accounts, compared to the 146 million accounts in Citibank. What went wrong For one thing, e-Citi was set up as an independent venture. Customers could not use Citibank branches. This was a fundamental mistake. People using a Web bank have a large number of questions to start with: How do I deposit money What ATMs can I use
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Selling on the Web
Whom do I talk to when I have a problem or need a loan Whom can I relate to Since, on top of all that, there was no institution to identify with, it is amazing that Citigroup was able to nd 30,000 people who were willing to open accounts. No Web bank has ever made a pro t, and none ever will. What can be pro table is for an existing bank with lots of branches to persuade some of its customers to use the Web for some of their transactions. Web transactions cost about one penny each. Branch visits cost at least $2. The cost savings to the bank can be very substantial. But customers will use the Web only if they have con dence in the institution and if there is someone whom they can go to see when they need help. After Citibank folded the e-Citi operation, the company formed an Internet Operating Group to see which Citibank services could be profitably shifted to the Web. The company created an online-payments business called C2It that let customers email money to one another for a 1 percent fee. Individual Citibank units were encouraged to shift functions to the Web. Eighteen months later, Citigroup was serving 10 million customers online with a variety of services. Looking forward, Citigroup expects to cut $1 billion off its annual costs through using the Web.
eToys Strikes Out
When eToys went public in 1999, its market value reached $7.7 billion. The company was backed by Intel, Sequoia Capital, and Idealab. What a great beginning! Its Web site included a sophisticated search engine that let parents look for toys appropriate for a child of a particular age, or for toys of a particular brand or theme. It created wish lists that let children choose gifts and email their lists to family members. Once the rm s Web site was out there for everyone to see, however, competitors like Amazon and Wal-Mart were in a position to copy the rm s ideas and beat its prices, and they did. Soon competitors began to sprout up everywhere: KBKids, Smarterkids, Toysmart, ZanyBrainy, NuttyPutty, JC Penney, Target, and FAO Schwarz joined Amazon and Wal-Mart in selling toys on the Web. Many of them spent lavishly on advertising.
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eToys assumed that loyal customers would come back once they had been acquired. On the Web, customers soon learn that it is very easy to shop around and they do. Proximity works with bricks-and-mortar stores. You can drive to them, park in their parking lots, and go inside. The Web is very different. It is very hard to create and maintain customer loyalty on the Web. eToys could not count on its customers coming back, and they didn t. Even given the competition, eToys assumed that the growth of the Web would provide enough buyers for everyone. The company planned to double its sales every year. That was achievable only when sales were very small. In fact, competitors multiplied and national sales grew only modestly, and so eToys forecasts were worthless. Perhaps eToys biggest mistake was spending too much to create a distribution network. The company s investment in property and equipment amounted to more than $120 million. This meant that property investment equaled about 95 percent of the year s revenue. A similar gure for retailers was 20 percent, and one for catalogers was 13 percent. Faced with these investments, eToys could not make a pro t without a massive sales increase. That increase did not occur.
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