As successful catalog merchants, you’re using merchandising techniques every day to deal with issues such as “can’t touch it, can’t try it on.” Let’s face it, returns are a hassle.
When it comes to selling products online, familiarity with these issues is just one advantage you have over both Internet-only “pure-plays” and store-based, bricks-and-clicks e-tailers.
Pure-plays have the formidable task of simultaneously launching and marketing a new brand, sourcing and perhaps stocking product, creating visual assets, implementing technology, handling fulfillment and developing a customer service component (no wonder so many have failed!). Bricks-and-clicks players have their branding and merchant skills in place, but often lack the direct marketing components essential for online success.
As successful catalog merchants, you have all of this in place—except to get a handle on Internet technology.
Sounds as if all you need to do is re-purpose your catalog assets for success on the Web, right? The masterful strategy for multi-channel shopping is to use each channel’s strengths to deliver the best possible customer experience—from the tangibility of the in-store experience, to the portability of a printed catalog to the interactivity of the Web.
The Keyword Is Interactivity
If you’re going to entice your customers to shop for your wares on the Internet, give them value-added reasons to do so, not just a print catalog on a screen. Perhaps the most obvious advantages of Web over printed catalogs is that you’re not limited to what you can fit on a pre-determined number of pages, and you have the flexibility to change offerings as often as your time and budget allow. Point out merchandising offerings to your Web shoppers.
Knowing Your Customers is the Starting Point
One of the most customer-centric advantages of this channel is that you can deploy merchandising features and functionalities to appeal to your different customer segments and their many shopping motivators or styles.