By Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc.
Big brands as well as start-ups are finding that blending a brick-and-mortar presence with online commerce is just the experience that internet-savvy shoppers crave.
A case in point for this “bricks and clicks” sort of marketing strategy is one newer start-up whose business in the United States has quickly blossomed, Happy Returns.
Set up in 300-plus “return bars” at shopping centers or stores in more than 50 metro areas across the country, Happy Returns is where customers who have bought items online can return them and get an instant refund. In addition to not having to pack their returns and take them to the post office, the customer pays no fees, while Happy Returns boxes and ships items back to retailers, who do pay a fee for the company’s services.
Happy Returns’ co-founders first met while successfully building a “Return to Racks” program for a venture between Nordstrom’s and online flash-sale retailer HauteLook.
While shaping Happy Returns, the co-founders commissioned a study, Returns Happen: A Growing Opportunity for Retailers, that showed nearly three-fourths of online shoppers ranked “returns” as the least favorable part of their experiences with e-commerce.
“Returns are an overlooked and underappreciated yet critical component of the online shopping experience,” said an author of the study, Sucharita Mulpuru, of Forrester Research. “Recent announcements from Amazon, Kohls and Walmart show that leading retailers are finally addressing returns. This report outlines what other retailers need to provide to meet the expectations of today’s online shopper.”
Adds David Sobie, one of the Happy Returns co-founders: “This is the first research that describes what shoppers want in returns and quantifies the impact of getting it right. There are few, if any, other initiatives that online retailers can undertake to make more than 80 percent of their customers more likely to shop.”
Other Clicks Leading to Bricks: Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Add Tiffany & Company to Amazon, Walmart and other big retailers who are leading the bricks-and-clicks charges of today.
When you visit Tiffany’s website, it will allure your inner Audrey Hepburn by inviting you to its Blue Box Cafe, where you can enjoy a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” the name of the 1961 film in which she starred.
The interior of the cafe is bedecked like a robin-egg-blue box from the legendary jewelry retailer, which reaps many an Instagram moment from tourists who visit the eatery. And to reach the restaurant on the fifth floor, you must first navigate your way around the first floor to find the proper elevators. While exploring the brick along that route, you’ll find that Tiffany also has rolled out a lighter and airier design meant to entice the shopping experience.
Reservations for a breakfast — or a late lunch — at The Blue Box can be made online, and reservations are as hot as bacon off the grill, because the space only has room for 40 diners at a time.
5 More Reasons to Eye Brick-and-Click Strategies
Why are more and more brick-and-mortar stores like Happy Returns and Tiffany moving to online experiences that complement store visits?
Because they know that marketing researchers have cited these among the benefits of brick-and-click strategies:
• After visiting a website for a preview of something they want to buy, customers can visit the store itself to inspect goods in person to check out the quality or fit, plus seek advice from staff, before their actual purchase.
• An order can be picked up at the store or delivered to the customer’s home, depending on that customer’s preference and schedule.
• Orders can be placed from a mobile device when customers without access to a personal computer — or not wanting to use their computer at work, perhaps — can find the spare time to do so.
• Businesses that employ a programmatic approach to marketing, particularly, can use their existing logistics networks for a new ecommerce site or campaign.• Many consumers generally feel safer buying online from a business whose store location they have personally visited.