Multichannel Marketing to the Online Consumer

It is commonplace for companies to maintain a presence in both market environments. This dual presence is called multichannel marketing.

Integrating Multiple Channels with Multichannel Marketing
Multichannel marketing is the blending of different communication and delivery channels that are mutually reinforcing in attracting, retaining, and building relationships with consumers who shop and buy in the traditional marketplace and marketspace. It seeks to integrate a firm`s communication and delivery channels, not differentiate them.

Dual distribution focuses on reaching different consumers through different marketing channels. Retailers that employ two or more of these channels are labeled multichannel retailers.

Multichannel marketing leverages the value-adding capabilities of different channels.

• Retail stores can leverage their physical presence by allowing customers to pick up their online orders at a nearby store or return or exchange nonstore purchases.

• Catalogs can serve as shopping tools for both online and in-store purchasing.

• Websites can help consumers do their homework before visiting a store.

Implementing Multichannel Marketing
Websites play a dual role in multichannel marketing because they can serve as either a communication or delivery channel. Two general applications of websites exist based on their intended purpose: (1) transactional websites and (2) promotional websites.

Multichannel Marketing with Transactional Websites
Transactional websites are electronic storefronts that focus on converting an online browser into an online, catalog, or in-store buyer using the six website design elements.

1. Transactional websites are most common among store and catalog retailers and direct selling companies.

2. Retailers and direct selling firms have found that their websites, while cannibalizing sales volume from stores, catalogs, and sales representatives attract new customers and influence sales.

3. Transactional websites are used less frequently by manufacturers of consumer products due to the threat of channel conflict and the potential harm to trade relationships with their retailing intermediaries.

4. Still, some manufacturers do use transactional websites, often cooperating with retailers.

Multichannel Marketing with Promotional Websites

1. Promotional websites advertise and promote a company`s products and services and provide information on how items can be used and where they can be purchased.

2. Promotional websites often engage the visitor in an interactive experience involving games, contests, and quizzes with electronic coupons and other gifts as prizes.

3. Promotional websites can be effective in generating interest in and trial of a company`s products and services.

4. Promotional websites are to support a company`s traditional marketing channel and build customer relationships.

5. Multichannel marketers are expected to register about 85 percent of U.S. online retail sales in 2006.

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