USA Today reports on the use of blogs by the online retail industry.
The story includes some great examples of how blogs can strengthen a company's relationship with customers -- and how that leads to more business:
For instance Bluefly.com, an online retailer of designer clothes, updates customers on fashion-related news through its blog Flypaper (flypaper.bluefly.com).
Flypaper's customers typically have relied for fashion news on magazines such as Vogue. Now, they also have the blog as an information source, and the company has an opportunity for an interactive relationship.
These blogs are not just "commercials." They're providing value to consumers, by giving them information they want. It's not a traditional approach to marketing, but it's increasingly important as consumers use the Internet to educate themselves before they buy.
"Our initial goal was to build the brand with value-added content such as information about the region where the food originates," says Donna Lynes-Miller, GourmetStation president and founder. "In the long term, people will appreciate what we're doing, become a repeat customer and tell others."