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Making the Brand/Consumer Connection (and sale) Online

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: July 6, 2009, from the July 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 7 of 9

Lawrence Mortenson: I think the question should be “what’s the best way to take advantage of online opportunities if you have a bricks-and-mortar store?” And, Shawn nailed it. First off, the retailers needs to know their objectives. If they want to use online marketing to increase traffic to their bricks-and-mortar stores, there are some simple ways to do that—including social marketing with services such as Yelp, buying local advertising on Google, writing articles and blog posts using local keywords, using Facebook to inform customers about upcoming events and promotions, etc. If, on the other hand, the retailers wants to build an e-tail store, we’re talking about a totally different game and a really steep learning curve. Then, they need to worry about fulfillment, managing the online store inventory and the complexities of online marketing. They’ll need to learn search engine optimization (SEO) inside out, search engine marketing (SEM), article marketing, blogging and a whole host of other things that will probably make their heads spin at first. Of course, retailers can also start small and build from there.

GCI: There is potential for reaching a much broader market when retailing online. How must a brand owner who also retails her product prepare to deal with a far more widespread consumer base? What are the practical issues? Shipping, payment methods, etc.?

Kevin Kells: Marketers must be prepared to target at a much deeper level, and must be clear on the triggers and barriers to purchase against all those sub-groups of consumers because they will all be different. But while this is infinitely more complicated in the planning and execution stage, once set up there are many scalable tools to help measure, tweak and optimize all of your consumer touch points.

Kathleen McNeill: It is important for a brand to have its own online presence, but if retailers would like to reach a larger base of consumers online, it is important to also be in a multibranded environment. One of the biggest advantages Beauty.com has is a partnership with drugstore.com. A customer can shop across both sites in a single cart and buy mass and prestige in one stop from the comfort of home.

From a practical standpoint, it is easier for a brand to ship to a single warehouse rather than shipping individual packages to the customers’ homes or to multistore locations.