January 29, 2004, 12:00 AM

The cross-channel pull of e-mail at Bombay: 10x more in stores than online

For years, home furnishings retailer Bombay Co. promoted only its web site in e-mailed marketing promotions--until it found out that e-mail marketing campaigns produced 10 times as many sales in stores as online.

For years, home furnishings retailer Bombay Co. promoted only its web site in e-mailed marketing promotions--until it found out that e-mail marketing campaigns produced 10 times as many sales in stores as online. “We’re barcoding all our e-mails now so we can track the impact of e-mail campaigns across all sales channels,” Matt Corey, vice president of e-commerce and marketing, tells Internet Retailer.

Bombay started tracking barcoded e-mail coupons in November, and discovered over the first two months that e-mail marketing worked far better than it had expected in promoting store as well as web sales. “For every $1 e-mail drives in online sales, e-mail drives $10 in store sales,” Corey says. “We expected to get a cross-channel boost, but we didn’t expect stores to get 10 times online sales. And as we continue to bolster our e-mail database with new customers, it will help our stores that much more.”

Corey says he had figured customers would respond to e-mailed promotions for store as well as online sales because many customers prefer the in-store experience of touching and feeling home furnishings. But he also made sure that a revised e-mail marketing campaign clearly explained to consumers how to redeem e-mail coupons in stores as well as online. Bombay designed promotional e-mail messages to first list its stores as a place to use e-mailed coupons, with instructions on how to print them out and redeem them in stores, followed by instructions on how to redeem them at Bombayco.com.

“A year and a half ago, our e-mail promotions only drove people to our web site; it wasn’t a multi-channel approach,” Corey says. “Now we tell people to use the coupons in all channels, stores, online and catalog call centers.”

Moreover, by tracking the redemption of coupons with barcodes, Bombay is able to see how well certain promotions do in different geographic areas. Bombay produces the barcodes in-house.

Corey says Bombay is also learning to better use e-mail marketing to drive seasonal sales, such as with promotions of jewelry boxes for Valentine’s Day, and to drive sales at its new and growing Bombay Kids stores and web site. “We’ll drive more personalization in e-mail marketing this year,” he says. “If a customer tells us they have girls or boys at home, we’ll e-mail them promotions about Bombay Kids as well as Bombay.”

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