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Alok's Posts / Startup

What E-Commerce needs is brains, not price wars & discounts

Check out this amazing campaign that surfaced in the Wall Street iPad app that I was browsing over the weekend:

When I tapped the bottle, this happened:

I said “WOW” and did as I was instructed…

I then clicked on preview!!!

Mighty smitten, I clicked on Purchase!!

I landed up here:

Honestly speaking, if I had not stopped drinking, I would have ordered this bottle (and shipped it to our office in San Fran)

The concept, the involvement and the VANITY of owning this bottle was overwhelming.

Just to understand what really was the differentiator, I checked on similar prices of Johnnie Walker bottles in the USA.

This is what I found:

Sure there was a 12.5% premium, that was not a big deal considering the amazing value add of getting my name engraved on a bottle!

I looked a bit more and saw that for the other bottles, the price difference was quite stark (the difference for Gold Label was 35% and the difference for Black Label was 27 %) and these were not engravable!

Lessons learnt:

– Clever e-commerce is NOT about price discounting, cutting and giving deals! It’s the reverse as seen in this case.

– Note that the engraver is NOT Johnnie Walker – it’s an independent company, creating additional value for JW. I am sure they have a tight working agreement, but this proves that great partnerships between the producer of goods and the re-seller can exist and make money for both (so it’s not always a ‘commission on sales’ that gets reduced)

– This re-positions Blue Label into being even more aspirational and avant-garde than before. Apple allows engraving on its products but I had not seen this on a normal liquor bottle before.

This concept also ensures that the bottle remains in the bar even after it’s consumed, which obviously then triggers a repurchase. A bottle like this also becomes a bragging point at a party.

– Once a consumer lands on the e-commerce site, he looks around. That’s the trap. I am there, I am impressed, I am vulnerable. I do not have the time to check if the Gold or the Black Label prices are more or less than the market. I will buy!!

E-commerce players MUST learn from campaigns like this.

I want to buy stuff that makes me feel happy, excited, vain, brag-worthy and special.

I DON’T wanna buy another shirt from another e-commerce site because I don’t give a shit about ordinary shirts anymore. But if the shirt allows me to embroider (NOT PRINT) my rodinhood logo and name in red and black colour, then I will be very interested. And at that point, I won’t give a damn about the price…



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  1. Ecommerce is all about innovative ideas combined with niche and not fighting cut Throat battel of customer acquisition and bleeding business to death.

  2. not necessarily true, what you refer to is niche marketing and is not something that can be sustained in the long run as the novelty wears off. If you are looking at a general sense of e commerce then your price point matters( look at amazon or ebay) but these niche campaigns might offer you margins but cannot successfully run a e commerce based simply on this

  3. Alok,

    Email me the logo and name you want, will get you hooked to something cool.


  4. Atleast one E-commerce player in India is doing something different than others..haven’t tried their service..called try and buy …like you can order shoes of two different sizes..and finally buy one…looks good..and if executed well can really make a difference…

  5. Alok, allows you to embroider logo and name on T-shirts. Check them out.


  6. Agreed 100%. It’s because of engaging ads like these that I think that mobile advertising on IOS is beating android in terms of revenue. For the ad you posted, I would have also definitely engaged with it and this is where the company’s ad spend is leading to value. 

    Regarding price wars, my take on it is that since job salaries are low in India, discounts available in online are encouraging people to try websites online. It’s a marketing technique. I personally don’t know if we, when it comes to products, would choose experience over price.

    I don’t like the price wars either because you see websites with terrible UI’s and customer service selling more and hence reducing their incentive to improve their usability.

  7. check out all the new design of the logo in T-shirt and also get which design you want through this with help of getting the cool and stylish look in itself so that everyone might run on trending fashion

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