At first, marketing an ecommerce company offline seems like a counterintuitive idea. In fact, it might feel outright silly. Why would you spend time talking to your potential customers offline when they can only purchase your products online?
A study by iProspect (admittedly from a while ago) discovered that about 40% of online shoppers are influenced by an offline marketing channel. This is an enormous percentage of online shoppers and if you run an ecommerce company of any kind, you simply cannot afford to ignore this number.
The question that now begs the answer is where to start.
Catalogues have been with us forever it seems. The first mail order catalogue was printed in Venice in the late 15th century and even Benjamin Franklin used it to sell books. For a while, it was the most comfortable way to sell to people who were not close enough to shop at your physical store. More recently, catalogues have turned more into more of a marketing material and, as such, they still work very well.
Back in 2010, Charles Nicholls investigated 10 of the highest converting ecommerce websites in the world and he discovered that 9 of them also sent out mail order catalogues. An article from the Wall Street Journal examined a number of online retailers that use catalogues and do it for good reasons. People simply love a beautifully designed physical catalogue and this is not about to change anytime soon.
It should be pointed out that printing and sending out a physical catalogue can be a pricy endeavor, but when we are talking ROI, it makes sense.
We are not talking huge events that cost millions of dollars here. We are talking simple, affordable events that will mark the launch of a new line or the introduction of a new supplier’s line of products to your ecommerce store.
There are myriad reasons why an offline event of such kind can do wonders to promote your ecommerce business.
For one, it is a great way to get (free) media coverage. A well-organized event will attract the attention of the local media quite easily and there is always a chance that such a segment will go national. This way, you are getting the exposure you could otherwise only dream of.
If you wish, you can combine your event with a charitable cause and show everyone that your ecommerce company cares about causes and that it is not just some money-making website. You can also do merchandise for such an event, such as wristbands that promote charitable causes or something similar.
Organizing events such as this will put a “human” face to your ecommerce business which is a good idea since many people still see such websites as mostly automatic and impersonal experiences that are not worthy of particularly strong emotions one way or another.
Pop-up stores are a relatively young phenomenon that kicked off towards the end of the 1990s and that only grew in popularity over the 20-odd years it has been around. In essence, a pop-up store is a store that exists at a certain place for a limited amount of time, as opposed to staying there indefinitely. This can be a few days, a few months or even a year. The important thing is that it is envisioned and materialized as a temporary retail outlet.
According to the 2013 Specialty Retail Report, the pop-up retail industry was $8 billion strong that year and since then, it has only grown in importance. Instead of renting out entire commercial spaces, certain ecommerce retailers even decide to have a corner of their own in another retailer’s space. Of course, these will never be competing retailers.
Once again, this can be a costly endeavor, but if done right, it can do a lot to promote your brand and even provide you with some face-to-face insights that you could not get online. If you are really nervous about taking your retailing to the physical world, you can always make your pop-up store more of a showroom where people can try out your products and then purchase them online, the “old-fashioned” way.
When compared to the majority of online marketing techniques, these offline practices may seem risky, that is for sure. However, they can be very effective and they can give your ecommerce company the boost it needed.
The important thing is that you do not ignore them altogether.