As modern consumers, we sometimes buy in-store, sometimes buy online, and increasingly start the process with one and finish with the other. Today, ‘buying online’ is likely to be a multi-device effort that could involve any combination of smartphone, tablet, laptop, and desktop. Because we’re so used to doing things this way now, it’s easy to forget that behind every seamless multichannel purchase experience is a retailer or brand that has carefully designed that process. Or, on the other side, behind every disjointed multichannel experience, there’s a retailer or brand that has dropped the ball. In our new Intelligence Report: Multichannel Retail, we examined how effectively 79 prestige retailers and brands, across six verticals (Apparel, Department Stores, Watches & Jewelry, Beauty, Home Goods, Footwear), have used their digital properties to draw a connection to–and drive business in–their brick-and-mortar stores, where 89.4 percent of retail sales still take place.
One of the most significant findings in the research was how adept, on average, the home goods retailers are at email marketing, one of the most important components of multichannel. In particular, the Williams-Sonoma brand family (including Pottery Barn), which has built its email strategy around the promotion of its brick-and-mortar retail locations as multi-purpose event spaces. Because the brands’ stores often host commerce-oriented events and services, the companies often send their customers emails touting an event experience, rather than just a purchase experience. As you can see in the chart below, Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn were head and shoulders above the rest of the brands in our study at promoting in-store events via email.
Both brands significantly outpaced their peers in the home category, including Crate & Barrel and Ethan Allen (both of which included in-store event mentions in just 4 percent of emails) and Restoration Hardware, which did not promote in-store events at all over the six-month period. In-store services, consisting mostly of complimentary design assistance from a design studio specialist, were promoted in an impressive 87 percent of both Willams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn’s marketing emails. Email marketing may not have the sex appeal of a flashy, meme-y social media campaign or a high-profile TV commercial, but when done right it is one of the most effective methods of turning online traffic into foot traffic–the latter being the preferable of the two, until e-commerce and m-commerce gain a significantly larger share of total retail sales.