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How to use digital methods to promote Bricks and Mortar storefronts

1 Feb 2012

Digital methods can be used to improve ecommerce and drive storefront sales as well.

Bricks and Mortar storefronts

Marketing online and in-store separately is fast becoming a thing of the past, as more and more businesses look to unite their efforts in order to boost overall sales and brand engagement levels.

Driving traffic to your website can seem like an important focus for ecommerce figures, however, these can also push storefront sales as well.This can be done through a number of different methods, which can be used individually or combined for better results.

Email marketing campaigns
Not to be confused with spamming customer's inboxes, smart email marketing will be direct and inform subscribers of the latest updates and offers, keeping shopper's up-to-date and building a brand identity and relationship.

By giving them the option to opt-in you can ensure that customers are keen to start a dialogue with your business, meaning you have to be careful to only send items with which they would deem relevant.

This could involve online exclusive offers for discounts which can be redeemable in-store, or perhaps invites to events and store openings. Using techniques such as these can also help you unify not only your digital site and bricks-and-mortar store, but also your other online channels, such as social media outlets and external blogs.

Using social media channels
Being active on social media feeds such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest can be a great way to promote interaction with customers. Being a fashion brand, you can afford to be more creative with photography and imagery, evoking your brand message and enticing customers to follow your activity with pictures and texts.

You can tease new collections through these channels, enticing people to want to head to the store when they are released to see items for themselves. Social media sites are also highly mobile and instant, meaning followers can be informed of brand updates, sales and new ranges straight to their finger-tips, saving money on lengthy offline campaigns.

Richard Dodd, spokesman for the British Retail Consortium (BRC), claims that social media is all about ensuring that businesses are prompt at responding to customers' needs positively and most importantly, quickly.

Dodd explained that many consumers are more likely to raise issues on social networking sites, which means businesses "need to be able to dive in there almost instantly and put anything right that isn't right, provide information that is required and in some instances turn what could be a negative into a positive".

This involves "refining what they are doing for customers and seizing the benefits of social media to do that and to communicate more widely the fact that they are good at what they do and what they sell", he added.

Blog content
Expanding on the social media topic, smart blog posts are the next step forward in leveraging your digital presence in order to boost bricks-and-mortar sales. Creating a company blog can show that you're up-to-date with the latest trends in fashion and how your collection fits in with the industry.

You can go into far more detail on this kind of platform, showcasing your brand's fashion knowledge and creating a more personable outlet for customers to interact with. Fashion firms can include plenty of links to other channels for a cross-marketing effect, while also inviting readers to visit the store to make an appointment or view new products.

The more opportunities you give customers to get in touch the more likely they will do so, after all. As well as blog content, updating a news section on your site regularly and paying attention to search engine optimisation (SEO) could help boost your site ranking and earn you a place in Google News, thus boosting your visibility.

Taking a unified approach
It is significantly better to invest time in a combination of digital marketing techniques if you're hoping to boost your market position and bricks-and-mortar sales. Stefan Drew, Founder of Stefan Drew Associates, and also known as the Marketing Magician, said: "I would suggest that they [brands] don't put all their eggs in one basket and just rely on one form of advertising or promotion."

"It is a matter of using as many different forms of marketing as possible," he explained.
Drew recommended making as much use of e-marketing as possible, suggesting that even if brands cannot afford a website then online directories can be a cheap and effective way of displaying information about a company.

"Amongst that, I would include email. Email is one of the most forgotten forms of marketing there is. Everyone thinks about junk emails, but in actual fact, good email campaigns are fantastic," he went on to add.

But, it is bringing each of these various channels together which could be the solution to promoting all sides of a business.

With an "increasing blurring of the distinction between online retailing and store retailing", spokesman for the BRC, Dodd emphasises that unified efforts need to be made to ensure that both channels are performing well.

In essence, bricks-and-mortar storefronts can certainly compete with ecommerce channels, especially if they choose to also leverage digital marketing techniques themselves.

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