, , ,

Multichannel retailing involves selling merchandise through multiple distribution channels including stores, online, mobile, catalog, and phone.  While many retailers claim that they are engaged in cross-channel sales, studies indicate that retailers are not managing cross-channel marketing as well as they think.

Surveys indicate that just 12% of retailers (excluding Walmart) had the in-store ability to access or review a customer’s online order.  This means that associates in the store can look up what a customer has purchased online.  This type of access is useful especially is a customer is trying to match their items they bought online with more complementary items in the store. Leaders in multichannel marketing include Target, Best Buy, and Sears.  Target, for example, leads the industry with mobile technology.  Sears and Best Buy have an integrated platform to service customers both in stores and online.

Research also indicates that almost 50% of retailers are not optimizing collaborative filtering, which is the process of providing tailored recommendations to customers. Retailers that can provide relevant recommendations to a customer can expect higher sales and profits as well as develop a loyal customer that enjoys the fact that the retailer always knows what she wants.

While some retailers are leading the way in cross-channel shopping, there are still numerous opportunities for retailers. Many retailers are not capitalizing on mobile commerce functions including localization. This means that retailers’ mobile sites accessible by phone do not always provide a store locator function helping the customer determine their closest store. On a real-time basis, retailers can also access customers that are close to their stores and send them targeted promotions to encourage them to come into the store that they are close to.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is multichannel marketing?
  2. Which retailers are most successful at multichannel marketing and why?

Sarah Mahoney,Best Buy, Sears, Target Lead in Cross-Channel,” MarketingDaily, August 29, 2011.