Is the New Gmail Bad for Retail?

September 17, 2013

English: Gmail logo

Google’s latest tweak to Gmail may not be good for business. Retailers are getting the word out on any number of platforms these days, including Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter, but email is remains the workhouse of online retail.

Google has over the last few months rolled out a new framework for Gmail, creating several different folders within users’ inboxes. The “Primary” folder is intended for personal and priority emails. The other folders include “Social,” “Promotions,” “Updates” and “Forums.” The names are fairly self-explanatory. Google says simply that it wants to address email overload.

The organization may be useful for users, separating and perhaps prioritizing Gmail. The effect is less certain for retailers. The risk is that e-commerce emails will be shunted into an “email ghetto,” according to the New York Times. The open rate for promotional emails has decreased by about 1 percent since the introduction of the feature according to three sites that manage e-mail mailings, Yesmail Interactive, MailChimp and 3DCart.

It is possible for users to change the folders in which emails appear. Gmail from retailers may be dragged and dropped into the “Primary” folder. Once that’s done, future emails will also appear in that folder. The Gap and Groupon have urged recipients of their emails to do just that.

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