Multi-Channel Marketing: Integrating Ecommerce & Brick-and-Mortar

Owen Andrew
Owen Andrew
Guest Contributor

Seamlessly integrating the digital and physical channels is quickly becoming the single most important strategy for winning retailers.

Multichannel IntegrationRunning a business that has both brick-and-mortar locations and online sales poses many unique challenges for marketers. Combining the channels and using both traditional and digital marketing to promote your brand seems complicated, but there are plenty of ways to coordinate in a way that will ensure your holiday season is a marketing triumph.

The In-Store Experience

Despite the overwhelming popularity of online shopping, many people still prefer to make their holiday purchases the old fashioned way. Therefore, it is essential that you make your brick-and-mortar stores as welcoming and enticing as possible – and it starts with making sure shoppers are aware of the deals, specials, and any other unique events that are happening in your store.

Of course, there is traditional advertising (catalogs, flyers, coupons and ads in the newspaper, and even direct mail), but awareness marketing is shifting more and more towards the digital realm. Which leads into …

Online Offerings And Promotions

Your Internet presence is one of the most valuable resources that you have, in general, but particularly important if you run an ecommerce site. After all, you need to reach your audience when they already are online via their computers, tablets, or smart phones, and there are plenty of ways for retailers to accomplish this marketing goal.

It starts with search. Although social media marketing is popular and tends to get all the press, organic search engine optimization and paid search advertising (PPC, or pay per click) are still two of the primary ways that users find the items they are looking for and discover new products and services. Making sure that your audience can find you easily via Google, Yahoo, or Bing can be one of the most crucial investments you make in your company’s future success.

Your website’s search function also matters – your “searchandising” and navigation need to be on point and intuitive. If a user manages to reach your site but can’t find what they are looking for, they’ll click away – and perhaps find their desired item at your competition’s store.

It might even be worthwhile to consider incorporating searchable content in unlikely places–QR codes, for example, are promotional tools that are rarely being utilized but have a lot to offer marketing campaigns and are easy to create. You could even consider looking into augmented reality (AR). While a relatively new technology, AR technologies are becoming more widely available, and they have a wide variety of marketing and retail implications.

Last but not least, your email list might be the most powerful tool in your holiday marketing arsenal. Not only have the users who have signed up already opted in to receive communications from your company, they are actively looking for deals so they may be more likely to open your email. You need to start early and often to catch their attention, since their inbox will likely be flooded with special holiday offers. 

Social Media Ties It All Together

Social media is important too, especially in regard to creating shareable content that your audience will share with their own networks. Additionally, you can use social media to bring consumers to your physical stores as well as your website.

Offer special promotions for users who post about your brand on their social networks and then visit your brick-and-mortar shops, or use QR codes to share discounts, gift cards, or other deals that are only available in your physical locations. And, you can always cross-pollinate by posting images and videos from special events and activities at your shops as well.

Planning Ahead For The Holiday Season

Practically everyone is aware that the holiday gifting and sales season keeps being extended. From Gray Thursday to Black Friday to Cyber Monday and beyond, savvy retailers need to plan an ongoing series or cascade of promotions that apply both in-store and online.

Consumers shopping for the holiday gifting season often begin before Thanksgiving, so making sure your business is at the forefront of their minds long before then is often the best course of action. Fortunately for businesses that have yet to begin their holiday campaign during the end-of-year holiday season, there are plenty more, slightly less crazed seasons that still offer a huge potential for success. A well-planned Mother’s Day campaign can be a lot more profitable than a hastily executed Christmas promotion.

Overall, combining the in-store experience with seamless online shopping is the key to favorable outcomes for merchants who operate in both the brick-and-mortar and ecommerce space, and this holiday season is showing effective multi-channel marketing and execution is winning over the hearts of shoppers.

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