Blurring the Lines: The Benefits of Blurred Lines in Marketing

Blurred lines!

Not just the catchy song by Robin Thicke & Pharrell, but rather a concept that only the most successful marketers understand and actively employ.

Marketers often struggle to find the balance between retail and e-tail, especially when it comes to linking the two together to show ROI. The fact is, today’s shoppers require BOTH, and smart marketers are finding ways to establish their brand through offline and online experiences.

At the end of the day, successful marketing is all about engaging with your audience – wherever they may be. With the ever-changing landscape and vast capabilities of our computers and mobile devices, brands with a healthy mix of online and in-person opportunities for their shoppers to engage with tend to come out on top.

Whether it is digital showrooms for brick and mortar stores, pop-in stores, or physical pop-up shops for online only e-tailers, brands are being creative and innovative in order to connect with their customers.

A great example of this is Gap’s reserve online program. For customers who need that instant gratification, you can shop online at your leisure with the satisfaction of knowing that you can reserve your items and have them in-hand by the end of the day. Plus, if you happen to pick up a few more items while in-store, Gap surely won’t mind—in fact, they are banking on it!

The strategy of combining online and offline touch-points is a WIN-WIN for brands and consumers. Not only does this tactic immensely satisfy the shopper, but it provides The Gap with a direct correlation between online and offline marketing initiatives. They are successfully bridging the gap (pun intended) that so many marketers are trying to master.

Identified by Responsys.com’s Marketing Cloud Blog, below are 6 ways select brands have blurred the digital/physical lines:

Indochino:

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Menswear company Indochino sells custom suits online. The e-tailer provides instructions for customers to take their own measurements and order a tailored suit to be delivered to their doorsteps. While shoppers can complete the entire experience online, Indochino launched a “Traveling Tailor Tour,” during which men could stop by to get measured, fitted and styled, and then make their final purchase online. Customers booked an appointment online and had the opportunity to check out the designs and fabrics in person.

Nordstrom:

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You’ve heard of pop-up shops, but what about pop-in stores? Pop-in @Nordstrom is a theme-changing boutique at a handful of physical locations and includes a companion microsite. Each month Olivia Kim, Nordstrom’s director of creative projects, chooses an eclectic mix of clothing and goods and houses them in designed spaces on and offline to encourage interaction and engagement.

Birchbox:

Birchbox, the online subscription service that sends users custom sample selections of grooming products and accessories, was previously online-only. This spring it’s set to open a full-blown store in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. Aiming to be a lifestyle experience, the store will offer about 2,000 products for sale in addition to classes on topics like makeup and skin care tricks.

Alibaba:

Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba—often compared to Amazon—is getting aggressive in its efforts to connect its online offerings with China’s traditional retail sector. The Internet giant recently bought a stake in local department store operator Intime Retail Group. The alliance could allow customers to shop Intime’s online store through Alibaba’s Tmall marketplace and then pick up their purchases at one of the 36 department store locations.

The Gap:

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Many retailers offer in-store pickup options for customer who purchase online, but Gap Inc. takes the “bricks-and-clicks” approach a step further. It’s letting shoppers at 40 Gap and Banana Republic stores in Chicago and San Francisco reserve items online, and it will hold those items for 24 hours—enough time for customers to visit the store, make a purchase and perhaps pick up additional products.

I personally LOVE all of these examples, as I am the intended audience – heavy online shopper/researcher and IMPATIENT. I mean, even Amazon Prime is not fast enough sometimes, and heaven forbid something I am eyeing does not have free 2-day shipping! There is nothing like shopping or researching online, only to have the ability to get my hands on those must-have items in record time.


Nyla Murphy
Just Media, Inc.

Posted on March 30, 2015 in Nyla Murphy

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