Traveling the country, attending conferences, as well as speaking with clients and colleagues, I’m hearing a common refrain relating to catalog and direct mail: The pendulum is swinging back towards print. While it’s true more brands are finding new ROI opportunities from incorporating direct mail and catalog into the modern marketing mix, I still can’t help but think we’re not entirely aligning to the bigger picture. Print is again a vital part of the mix, but it’s different. It’s integrated to the whole, not a siloed standalone operating from a business as usual perspective. Far too few companies are making the necessary changes (and their businesses are suffering for it).
While no one will argue the importance of a solid digital foundation, the paradoxical trend is that offline is increasingly seen as essential to boosting online performance and overall retail sales. “Bonobos [an e-commerce apparel company] Vice President of Marketing, Craig Elbert, reported that 20% of the website’s first-time customers are placing their orders after having received a catalog and are spending one and a half times as much as new shoppers who didn’t receive a catalog first” (https://goo.gl/TETRho). The dirtly little secret? Great brands are learning to sync up catalogs and direct mail with email, display, and targeted landing pages to contextualize distinctive, meaningful ecommerce experiences. Increasingly, they’re turning to the emerging field of social commerce.
In a recent talk, Ezra Firestone, CEO of Smart Marketer, discussed the future of ecommerce and an emerging element he described as “integrated social commerce,” which is essentially using video and other creative assets driving users to engage and purchase without ever leaving the social platform (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) With more people consuming content on mobile devices, and the growing ability to watch videos natively, video is growing in terms of usage and will be a powerful tool in customer engagement and conversion going forward. (http://www.digitalmarketer.com/ecommerce-video-advertising/)
With over 500 million active monthly users, Instagram has already carved out a niche as the key retail visual selling medium du jour. According to a forecasting by eMarketer, 48.8 percent of U.S. brands used the platform in 2016 with that number expected to swell to 70.7% in 2017. We’re beginning to realize the real impact of social media on commerce. CohereOne’s ‘sync-and-send’ strategy continues to show strong results and shows no signs of slowing.
Which network does Ezra think has a head start on integrated social commerce? “Facebook, by a mile. They’re getting everyone’s credit card on file, for the impending one-click purchase in the newsfeed. Facebook is working to become an Apple, a Google, where they’re handling payments. So, it’s coming.”
Following the last holiday season, we’re just beginning to understand how much of an impact Amazon truly had on traditional online and store sales. While recognizing the importance of considering utilizing the Amazon Marketplace is an intimidating endeavor, especially because Amazon is constantly changing, remember, growing your brand takes time, but using digital marketplaces (especially Amazon) offers expedited ways to engage and convert. Think about it: Amazon.com processes a third of all ecommerce transactions in the U.S.
One example of what Amazon has been up to is breaking into the fashion industry. Last year Amazon debuted its own line of four private label fashion brands, in three clothing categories: men’s shoes, men’s clothing and women’s clothing. L2, a digital intelligence firm, found that major brands such as Columbia, Clarks, Sketchers and Sorel have less than 4% share of the best seller list. This suggests that Amazon shoppers are less likely to search for men’s boots by branded terms.
Also, the average price for Franklin & Freeman boots (an Amazon fashion brand) is 65% lower than the average price among best sellers in the category. Couple this with indications that brand isn’t playing as large a role in search and you have a scenario where distinct products with unique selling propositions have an opportunity to compete. Again, this brings me to one of CohereOne’s most loudly and oft proclaimed mantras: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MERCHANDISE! (https://goo.gl/qQxcZI)
Clearly, without the proper dedicated resources and expertise, most sellers limit their potential or fail all together at incorporating Amazon into their growth strategy. The good news is, CohereOne can help.
We’re beyond the point where circulation plans lacking sophisticated integration with a larger digital ecosphere will cut it in the age of Amazon and digital proliferation. Surviving and thriving in difficult retail environments requires a higher degree of fidelity, introspection, and openness to tough conversations. As trust advisors, we’re here to help navigate the complexities of an increasingly complicated selling landscape. Whether it’s creating and integrating advanced circulation practices with digital marketing technologies, overhauling creative and merchandising strategies, or optimizing for success on Amazon, we’re prepared to help simplify the complex and draft roadmap strategies to help you win.