Create a Customer-Focused Business
By Gina Valentino
Flashback five years. 'Brick and mortar' was predominately a term used to describe a retail store location, and in particular used to describe a separate business unit from the catalog and/or Internet business. The retail store was considered, and more importantly treated, as an entirely different means of doing business. It was almost elite and certainly not included in the same sentence as catalog or Internet by corporate management or industry analysts.
Fast forward to 2005. You don't hear 'brick and mortar' much at all. Instead, retail operations are part of a company's multichannel business. Multichannel describes two or more ways customers can make purchases from a company: catalog, Internet and retail are three of the most common channels.
So why the change? Turns out the customer is always right. When a customer wants to make a purchase from your company, she doesn't think in terms of "brick and mortar versus Internet"—she instead thinks of convenience, ease of shopping, and probably brand. Marketers realized they had to adapt to customers, not force customers to adapt to their operations and system limitations.
While multichannel retailers can't create a customer-facing integrated business overnight, they can adhere to some set guidelines when implementing their marketing strategies.
Here are eight ideas for making sure your retail and direct channels work together.
Keep it simple. When customers want to make a purchase from you, it's their choice as to when, where and how to purchase. Learn to cross-promote and inform them of their choices—from call center hours to retail store locations by ZIP code.
Communicate discount offers early on. A cataloger wanted to transfer a successful percent-off discount from its direct-to-consumer base to drive retail store traffic. Customers responded overwhelmingly, and arrived with coupon in-hand, but were surprised when the store associate needed a calculator to figure out the discount.