How RSS feeds can work for retailers

I live by my RSS Newsreader (NetNewsWire on the Mac & NewsGator Online at work). For me, it's a lot easier to get the blog posts, news, and weather when I want it.

It's a much faster delivery, because — even though I'm reading 300+ sites — I don't have to visit them. Instead, that news comes to me. I suppose that makes me the perfect target for one of the newer trends: retail RSS feeds.

Now, a company that I have shopped with (Lids) is bringing targeted retail RSS straight to my newsreader. Lids sells hats (and a few other things, but mostly hats) to sports fans and fashionistas. I'll leave it to you to decide where I fit into the mix.

The guys at Lids have RSS feeds to show off their new merchandise. If you're a fan of, say, Florida State, then the Lids.com Florida State page has its own RSS feed with photos and prices for all the new products and styles.

So, I've subscribed to the FSU Lids feed. It costs Lids *very* little bandwidth to show me new products that I want to see. I can't promise that I'll buy something, but I'm sure most retailers would like their odds seeing that I've (1) opted-in, and (2) their able to target products I'm interested in.

This sort of targeted feed is the future of business-to-customer retailing. Think about it: if you're a knitter and your favorite store has a new product RSS feed, you can get see their yarns anytime it's updated. Ditto for coffee, cars, shoes, movies, airfare, hotels, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc infinity!

I know some retailers are afraid of RSS feeds, since I can consume their feed without having to visit their site. But the key is delivering targeted feeds. Showing me every product you have is a waste of your capital and my time (two big no-no's), but with a targeted feed you're only showing me the products that I'm interested in. And, if you want to cross-sell something to me now & then, so be it.

Any retailer that truly embraces targeted RSS feeds is going to capture a shopper that wants their product. And if you can capture your target market, then who the heck cares if I look at your web page, an email, or a feed, right? The only metric that truly matters is revenue, and targeted RSS feeds are a sure fire way to increase revenue.

Viva la RSS!

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