Retailers: Instore vs. Online Promotions

This topic comes up too often to not write about. Retailers who have a brick and mortar presence (especially a big one), always have to consider their eCommerce presence, and how it will be the same, or different from their in-store experience. This is one of those, “ask 10 people and get 10 different answers” scenarios. There is no ‘one’ answer because every business is different. What I am going to suggest here is based off what I’ve seen from some of Canada’s and the US’s biggest retailers, as well as some of the smaller guys. There are a lot of things to consider, so today let’s focus on promotions. Retailers often ask:

Do we run the same promotions online that we do in-store?

In my opinion, this is one of the biggest challenges retailers face. It’s important to remember that your online and in-store shopper are different. This is why your best selling categories aren’t always the same in-store and online. There are pretty much two schools of thought here.

1. Consistency is King – so whatever promotions you run online, you need to match what you do in-store.

2. Online Promotions for an Online Experience – since the online customer is different, promotions online should be more tailored to an online experience. They should be more time sensitive, offer more up-sell opportunities, and everybody’s favorite: “Free Shipping”.

In my opinion, you need a mix of both. The online store is still an opportunity for your in-store customers to window shop before they come in store, especially for retailers with a strong physical footprint, so consistency will help avoid confusion. However, don’t forget to throw in a little eCommerce flare – let them know that this promotion is time sensitive, so buy now!

What online promotions can I add-on to my everyday promotions?

If you are going to run the same promotion, throw in a little free shipping incentive as well. You would be surprised how often that’s all you need to make the transaction happen right away. 😉 They’re already on your site, might as well give that extra little push to motivate your customer to buy right now!

What can I do to keep consistency between all of my channels?

Whether or not you run the same promotions, connecting your channels is a great way to build strong brand consistency for your customer. This includes gift cards that can be used online or in-store , as well as coupon codes that can be used in both realms as well. A key thing that I’ve seen work is the ability to benefit from the order history and customer loyalty, no matter where you shop. If you have a customer loyalty program, built off points or order history, both on your site, and your stores should be involved. This will help get you that customer’s evoked set, and then they’re yours to keep. 🙂

Please keep in mind that every business is different. So the overall theme is always TEST, TEST, TEST! The most beautiful thing about eCommerce is that everything is trackable. So take advantage of it!