Top Eight Multichannel Strategies to Drive Sales

Apr 19, 2006 4:52 AM  By

A customer who purchases from two channels is worth three times as much as a single-channel customer. A customer who purchases from three channels (catalog, Internet, and stores) can yield five to six times the value of a single-channel buyer. Initiating these eight strategies will encourage multichannel behavior while driving overall increased company sales:

1. Promote a broader Internet assortment of product in the catalog.
The Internet is a marketing vehicle with endless pages and endless aisles. If a broader assortment of products is available on your Website, market this throughout the catalog. Many multichannel companies, such as AllPosters.com, Eastern Mountain Sports, and West Marine, have been able to successfully drive additional sales through the Web without expanding the catalog page count.

2. Solicit catalog requests on the Website.
Website visitors can be some of the most valuable prospects a cataloger can find. These prospects have brand awareness and an interest in your product offering. They have further raised their hand in interest to the company by requesting a catalog. You can successfully mail recent Internet requests directly, though you may need to optimize older requesters through cooperative database modeling.

3. Promote your toll-free order number in your Internet header.
Not all visitors to your Website want to purchase through the Internet; often they’re using the Web to research a purchase. By including your ordering phone number in the header, you can capture the sales of those customers wanting to speak to a live person.

4. Ink-jet store events and the address of the closest store on the back of the catalog.
Leverage the catalog mailings to promote store events as well as the closest store. Eighty percent of consumers want to touch and feel the product before making a purchase. By promoting the stores on the catalog, consumers can find out what’s new and go to the store to purchase that item as well as other, incremental, impulse items.

5. Mail deeper into store trade areas.
Use your house file, as well as specific prospecting models, to increase circulation in the store trade area. By increasing the penetration of these mailings to targeted prospects, not only will the store sales increase, but catalog sales will also increase, by about 15%. It is difficult to measure the impact on store sales. By analyzing the comp store sales trends before and after the mailing, however, and comparing them to trends for “hold out” stores, you can conduct an ROI analysis.

6. Prominently feature the store locator on the Internet header or footer.
The majority of the product research and decision-making is occurring on the Internet. By making it easy for Web visitors to locate the nearest store, you can improve the likelihood of converting these visitors into buyers. Measuring the effectiveness of your site’s store locator can be difficult; many multichannel companies measure the number of store locations searched, maps printed, or even Internet store coupons redeemed.

7. Accept catalog and Internet returns at the store.
This makes customers less nervous about ordering direct. Store returns also have the highest repeat purchase rate, since a sales associate can present the customer with advice about the product and present alternatives. In addition, once in the store, these “returns” customers purchase additional product of at least half of the typical average order value in addition to being more likely to make an exchange.

8. Allow store pickup of Internet orders.
Very few companies are offering the ability to order online and pick up in the store. Those such as Circuit City that have offered this service are reaping huge rewards. As is the case with customers going to a store with a return, customers going to a store to pick up an order are making additional impulse purchases once in the store.

Michelle M. Farabaugh is a partner with San Rafael, CA-based marketing consultancy Lenser and writes a monthly column forMULTICHANNEL MERCHANT’s LIST & DATA STRATEGIES e-newsletter.