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.