November 13, 2003, 12:00 AM

Study it on the web; buy it in the store

Lamps does double duty: it organizes 7,000 products for search both on the web and in the store via web-enabled kiosks. The site gives shoppers the chance to study their options, so more come into stores pre-sold.

With half a dozen or more web-enabled kiosks in each of its 44 stores for the past two years, lighting retailer Lamps Plus finds that embracing the multi-channel strategy pays off. With some 7,000 SKUs on offer, the site search function developed for online customers is helping store customers and store associates narrow their selections as well. Online sales are up, boosted in part by orders from store kiosks of merchandise not on the floor but available by quick shipment by web order. Store sales are up because the web-enabled kiosks remind store associates about related products to recommend.

President Dennis Swanson finds that thinking multi-channel when it comes to advertising drives results as well. He spends several million dollars a year in traditional offline advertising, but now, every piece of it features to drive shoppers to the web to see the full scope of what’s available. “A newspaper ad shows a little black and white picture of a product, and a TV ad shows five or six, but people who see it still don’t know all that we have. So our advertising drives them online now to where they can see thousands of products, and they have time to study them,” he says.

The result, says Swanson, is an increasing number of customers who come into the stores ready to buy, with a printout of a product they’ve already selected from the web site. “That means customers are coming into the store pre-sold,” says Swanson. “I want them to make their decision at home. It keeps them from shopping around,”

He adds: “In many ways the web had made us a far better retail business than we ever were.”


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