Some interesting articles from the September 26 BusinessWeek around how companies are trying to bring in and then keep customers.
The cover graphic is titled "The Hard Sell", but the point wasn't that consumers are being pressured. Rather, it's that companies are having to provide a great purchasing experience and not just great products.
Probably the best example of this the piece titled "Amazon: Turning Consumer Opinions into Gold." The main thing detailed is the "customer review" area for products on the Amazon website. As opposed to worrying about any negative reviews hurting sales, Amazon has focused on the idea of being an information source that also happens to sell the products it provides information on. Solid concept...
Two other pieces from this BW report looked at this same idea of how people buy things.
While more in it's infancy than Amazon, the Facebook Connect program is fascinating in it's potential to change how people make purchasing decisions. "Facebook Banks on a Little Help from Its Friends" details how the social networking company is looking at and instituting features that could at a large level help guide people towards products and services recommended by those they trust.
Finally, "Retailers Are Learning to Love Smartphones" details the move from "e" to "m commerce" whereby smartphones are being used to access smart-phone optimized company websites that people buy stuff from. As someone with an iPhone, I find it incredibly annoying going to a website that isn't formatted to come across well on a phone and imagine that's where things are headed.