There’s lots of talk about integrated marketing. But let’s chat about integrated customers.
I’m one, and I suspect you are too. Today, no one shops in just one channel. Even if a customer doesn’t shop or research products online, chances are they receive a catalog or two. And even if they don’t shop via catalog, they probably use the book as a springboard for ideas about where to shop or what to buy.
As a consumer, think of all the channels available to you. DRTV. Print advertising. Catalogs and direct mail. E-mail. Web sites. And yes, good old-fashioned retail stores.
While I earn my keep by writing about direct marketing, I do shop quite a bit by retail. But it’s the rare shopping trip that isn’t at least in some part informed by other media. Even when I grocery shop, I usually use at least one coupon clipped from the Sunday paper or a direct mail package.
My most recent in-store fashion purchase was a coat from J. Jill. How did I find out about the item? From a catalog. I was tempted to order the coat as soon as I saw it there. But….I knew that if I went to the retail store, I could try it on. And, even if they didn’t have the item in stock, I could order it at the store’s catalog desk and pay about half the shipping charges I would have paid had I placed the order at home.
To top it all off, the bonus circle of life here is that if I don’t like the coat when it arrives at my home I can return it—to the retail store. Online-only shoe retailers like Zappos and Shoebuy knew right off the bat that the way to shoe shoppers’ hearts – and feet – was free returns. (Amazon’s new shoe offshoot Endless even went one further, offering not only free overnight shipping and returns, but $5 off the free shipping. Yup, shipping “costs” -$5.)
But a lot of brick and mortar retailers with catalog/Web divisions were slow to pick up the slack on allowing direct purchases to be returned in-store. Personally, I don’t buy clothes direct unless I can somehow return the items for free. And I bet I’m not the only one.
Since I’ve been able to return their products to Sears stores, my Lands End purchases have gone up significantly. And yes, when I’m returning things at Sears, I inevitability end up buying other items in-store.
My godmother is a fanatical devotee of all things Talbot’s. She loves nothing better than curling up with a new Talbot’s catalog and ordering a truckload of stuff by phone. If there’s an item or two that isn’t quite right, she happily goes to the store for a returns/shopping trip that results in another truckload of purchases. (Yes, she has a huge closet.)
How integrated is your family, when it comes to shopping? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.