Since they had no direct physical contact with the consumer, they focused on strong branding and the development of consumer trust. They became an educational resource by providing far more in-depth product information than their brick-and-mortar competition could ever hope to. But perhaps the true stroke of brilliance and innovation was the building of virtual communities. The company became not only the focus of their customers' shopping experiences, but they gave customers a way to feel connected to others like themselves. This filled a very real need in an increasingly decentralized America and helped to build an almost unassailable brand.
The degree to which they monitored and analyzed their customers purchasing habits and tailored their presentation and product selection was unheard of at the time, but has now become commonplace.
They also offered a no-questions-asked money back guarantee. Old-school managers claimed that such a policy would be abused, but the company understood relationship marketing. The policy may have caused some minor losses, but they knew it was developing trust and relationships that would lead to steadily increasing sales and loyal customers.
They were right. In only a few years, their brand became a household name, their product selection was much larger than a brick-and-mortar store could hope to carry, and much of their physical competition found themselves being driven out of business. The speed at which the business was built and market share captured from more established firms was completely without president, and the brand has become a household name.
The entrepreneur in question was Richard Sears, and the year was 1893. The communications medium in question was the decades old postal service which allowed him to pioneer catalog marketing. Although Montgomery Ward had beat Sears to market by years, Richard Sears' use of marketing techniques that Amazon.com would be credited with developing a century later allowed him to quickly dominate the market and build a brand that at the time was considered unassailable.