Just a few years ago, brick-and-mortar stores only had to compete with each other, and primarily only with others in the same industry. But now, with ecommerce making up an increasing amount of overall retail sales, brands are competing with not just other local stores, but also with online sellers, both general ecommerce (Amazon) and industry-specific retail.
It’s no longer about physical vs digital: now it’s all about bringing these two together seamlessly to connect the dots through branding and reinforcing the flow between the two. Retailers are working to find a balance between marketing their physical stores and their digital presence. Here, take notes from three brands that are doing it right.
Ulta: Gaining Market Share in a Crowded Space
To many people’s surprise, beauty brand Ulta has become a formidable player in the Beauty category, growing 25% year-over-year. This is due, in part, both to it opening 42 stores during Q3 2018, as well as increased attention on its online sales. Currently, ecommerce accounts for 10% of overall sales for the brand.
To bridge the gap between in-store experience and digital, Ulta held a contest where participants could win prizes when they posted a selfie on Instagram after visiting an arch expert at an Ulta Store.
And while the brand strives to have an above-average experience when customers shop in the store, having a virtual “glam lab” in its mobile app encourages people to also buy online. Adding to that, its loyalty program is nearly 30 million members strong, and drives 90% of sales.
Neiman Marcus: Digitizing Luxury
The luxury market is one that, historically, has been a face-to-face industry. Having access to a personal shopper in your dressing room, being offered beverages while you shop...these experiences can’t be replicated online...though brands like Neiman Marcus are finding other ways to provide value through omnichannel marketing.
The retailer uses both big and small strategies — from using software that gets smarter the more a shopper interacts with its website to a Memory Mirror that encourages shoppers to record videos of themselves trying on clothes to send to friends and social media for opinions — to ensure that it continues to deliver the same white-glove treatment, no matter the platform.
Neiman Marcus even has a Snap. Find. Shop. app that lets people upload photos of apparel and accessories to see if the brand sells similar products (and then buy them).
Disney: Creating Magical Memories on Multiple Platforms
Nothing quite beats standing in front of Cinderella’s Castle with the princess herself...but Disney is determined to make the online experience nearly as satisfying. Its My Disney Experience app lets people plan their entire visit, from making reservations to interact with the park while they’re there in innovative ways.
Not only can visitors to Disney parks use mobile payments like Google Pay and Apple Pay, but they can also use Magic Bands to pay for purchases in the parks. These Magic Bands can also be used to unlock hotel rooms, enter the parks or Fast Pass lines, and provide a more immersive experience.
While driving traffic to a brick-and-mortar retail store is imperative for the success of the brand, and while ecommerce is growing in importance, the real sign of accomplishment is a healthy flow between the two. Both physical and digital storefronts provide ample opportunity for retailers to send traffic the other way.
And when customers buy both in-person and online, you’ve hooked them for the long haul. Throw in a valuable loyalty program and omnichannel personalized marketing where your audience spends time, and you’ve got a winning formula.