Connecting the Dots … Bringing Online, In-store

Nordstrom & Pinterest

We all know the significant impact that e-commerce has had on today’s retailers … many are redistributing advertising spend to social media outlets, cutting overhead by cutting square footage, and putting more stock in their online storefronts. Sales are being delivered to consumers less by Sunday morning circulars and more by Facebook promotions, Twitter discount codes or Pinterest contests. But just when you thought you had it all figured out, retailers are now turning the tables … merging social media with brick & mortar stores.

Nordstrom is one such store merging the gap between the online environment and the in-store experience. Known for their attention to customer service, Nordstrom’s newest play is to leverage tech startups, like Pinterest, for in-store sales. In March, the department store chain started labeling its “most-pinned” products from Pinterest with little “P” logos in stores near its Seattle headquarters. Now they have expanded the initiative to 13 locations. The department store has over 4.5 million followers on Pinterest, more than its closest competitors combined, so why not leverage that following? The company even developed an app that lets employees access a “dashboard” to cross-reference the most-pinned clothing, shoes, and handbags with the products actually in stock at that location.

Another retail powerhouse, Target, recently found a solution to bridging the gap between in-store experiences and social media. They launched a beta campaign with the Facebook app Cartwheel to take advantage of their over 21 million Facebook followers. Users with the app can earn savings on the social network, then cash in for goods with their smartphones while actually in Target stores. By signing up for the app on the dedicated site or through Facebook, customers can then select from hundreds of special discounts and add to their Cartwheel list. When customers are ready to buy they pull up the barcode on their smartphone for the cashier.

Cartwheel for Target

With companies like Warby Parker, Bauble Bar and Piperlime proving you can successfully work backwards by creating an online presence, then moving to a brick & mortar store, brands are starting to realize that the best results come by seamlessly merging the two worlds.

Last year, Burberry CCO Christopher Bailey, surprised some when he was quoted saying that the company was not only investing in replicating its store experiences online, but also in bringing the Burberry.com experience to its stores. Since then, Burberry’s flagship store in London has seamlessly integrated technology throughout. Technology like RFID chips attached to merchandise that, upon approach of fitting room screens, will display detailed information about the product’s craftsmanship, stitching, and how it was styled on the runway; details that you would expect to see included in an online product review. They also incorporated plenty of residential seating around the space, so you can sit down and relax as you might at home with your laptop or iPad.

Burberry Interactive Mirrors

Even fashion bloggers are getting an overhaul.  Gone are the days of just writing online reviews with the occasional photo.  Consumers today are now basing decisions on “haulers”. Fashion haulers are going into brick & mortar stores and buying loads of products to take home. There they can create “haul videos” to post on social media outlets for consumers everywhere to watch. These videos are more tangible and interactive reviews showing the hauler’s likes and dislikes of their loot. The next question will be, how can retailers leverage this newest online trend to drive more in-store sales?

Photo Credits: 8ninths, Cartwheel, Jezebel, and Gigaom

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