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Click and Mortar: The Best of Both Worlds

Posted by | September 28, 2010 Online Marketing | 2 Comments

For years now, there’s been a steady growth of online marketing and eCommerce businesses, leading many to wonder if brick and mortar stores will eventually become obsolete. After all, web-based stores can engage people from the comfort of their own homes, theoretically fulfilling all of their consumer needs with the click of a button. And with advancements in online ads and SEO/SEM, Internet marketing campaigns can target and cater to the specific needs and wants of each individual customer.

Even so, recent trends indicate that rather than eclipsing one other, eCommerce and brick-and-mortar sellers are actually flourishing together, using an all-inclusive approach to reaching potential consumers. Researchers have assigned a few new buzz words to this approach, such as “click and mortar,” “surf and turf,” and “cyber-enhanced retail”. Whatever you call it, it appears to be working, and companies are utilizing this multi-faceted retail strategy in some innovative ways.

One of the flagship companies to have pioneered this approach is Modani. When the company first opened in 2007, it was just another online store that offered trendy designer furniture at affordable prices. What set Modani apart, however, was its Miami showroom. Co-founder Nathan Cohen stated: “We want to offer the convenience of ordering modern furniture online, but nowadays people want to look at what they are purchasing, so we are planning to offer our furniture in showrooms throughout every major city in the U.S.” They were smart enough to realize that the novelty of online shopping may have worn off a bit, and that customers demanded the assurance of hands-on product interaction as well. As a result, Modani’s sales have doubled annually, allowing them to open a second showroom in Union Square in New York City last year, and they will soon open a third on Sunset Boulevard in California.

While Modani took steps to fully incorporate the sales benefits of eCommerce with the quality assurance of tangible products, MasterCard has recently approached the world of hybrid commerce from a different angle. In an effort to promote its new Marketplace site, MasterCard returned to their roots: brick-and-mortar retail stores.

Over the last few months, MasterCard has set up motion sensor-activated screens in the busiest retail locations of New York, Chicago, Miami, and Philadelphia. Storefront-sized video panels display the people passing by, with the addition of popup ads recommending purses, shoes, and a plethora of other items, allowing potential customers to envision themselves with said items, and sparking conversation with their companions. The interactive displays also allow customers to view Marketplace’s constantly updated feed and even email deals to themselves, effectively conducting eCommerce in the midst of the traditional brick-and-mortar atmosphere.

Cheryl Guerin, Senior Vice President of MasterCard’s digital marketing department, considers the storefront campaign “a natural extension,” and aims “to capitalize on consumers’ dual online-offline shopping behavior by directly placing the MasterCard Marketplace ‘shop smarter’ message within the physical, brick-and-mortar shopping experience.” All in all, MasterCard is utilizing these digital storefront ads, print and online advertising, and even social media such as Twitter to embrace an encompassing marketing strategy for their new eCommerce store.

While Marketplace only exists in the virtual realm, MasterCard has not lost sight of the fact that customers can still be reached when they are away from their computer. And although eCommerce has been incredibly successful in offering products across the globe at competitive prices, there is an ever-present social aspect to shopping that can never be fully replaced. The word-of-mouth buzz and public spectacle associated with MasterCard’s newest marketing campaign capitalizes on all of these lessons: offering the value and convenience of eCommerce, piquing interest with interactive marketing, and encountering potential customers in the public and social retail marketplace.

The lesson in these success stories? Never sell your customers short. Both Modani and MasterCard provide customers with every opportunity to encounter their business. If you want to stay on your customers’ minds, present your brand, products, and services where and when their minds are in the proper mode. Modani and MasterCard recognized the tactile and social aspects of shopping that consumers enjoy, and incorporated those experiences into the marketing and implementation of their eCommerce businesses—and it’s paying off. MasterCard is on schedule to spend less than half of their marketing budget this year compared to last, and Modani is rolling out showrooms across the nation. Take their lessons to heart, and best of luck to you in your clicks, as well as your bricks.

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2 Comments

  • Tyler says:

    Nice post. I really suppose it is all dependent on the product. I can’t see people ever buying wedding dresses solely online but things like software really have no benefit being sold in stores and at some point will no longer be sold at physical locations.

  • I think that for lots of products, you are right in that consumers would prefer to be able to at least know that they could try the item out rather than just buy it online. What I’ve noticed people doing here, especially in places like Waterstone, is looking around for things that they like the look of and then going home and purchasing off an internet site that will be much cheaper. I think that now, especially in a recession, people don’t see any shame in doing this. And for the larger online retailers(eg play), just the thought of going into a shop for play.com would make me break out in a rash. How will I find anything? Even somewhere like HMV is not a particularly pleasant place to visit, especially when it gets busy.

    As online retailers, it is our job to make the items as attractive as possible for customers, give as much description as possible and give people a reason to keep buying from us. We also have to make sure that the customer service we give is as good as we possibly can, ie sending items out the same day that they are bought, letting customers know that they can ask you for advice and you’re not going to recommend the most expensive items but the most suitable. It is also through being able to give specialist knowledge that online retailers can set themselves apart from other online retailers and indeed bricks and mortar shops.

    There is an element of convenience of buying things online, yes you have to wait for things to arrive but you don’t have to go to the shops at their most busy times and wait. Of course, for niche items, then if people have nowhere else to buy the item near them of course they will buy it online. And of course, for expensive items such as furniture, having a bricks and mortar showroom will definitely help. For other online sites, it might not be necessary as we can provide a bigger selection of items at a better price without having the expense of a bricks and mortar shop.

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