October 31, 2005, 12:00 AM

Web to store to web

Multi-channel retailing is finding a new platform at ShopLocal.com, which this month launches a redesigned site that extends its web-to-store shopping model into e-commerce. The site, which has hosted local promotional content including store circulars and localized newspaper ads that shoppers can view by ZIP code, now also provides direct links to opportunities to buy the featured items online.

Multi-channel retailing is finding a new platform at ShopLocal.com, which this month launches a redesigned site that extends its web-to-store shopping model into e-commerce. The site, which has hosted local promotional content including store circulars and localized newspaper ads that shoppers can view by ZIP code, now also provides direct links to opportunities to buy the featured items online.

Multi-channel retailing is finding a new platform at ShopLocal.com, which this month launches a redesigned site that extends its web-to-store shopping model into e-commerce. The site, which has hosted local promotional content including store circulars and ­localized newspaper ads that shoppers can view by ZIP code, now also provides direct links to ­opportunities to buy the featured items online.

Until now, finding the same amount of local store information, deals on products, and the online purchase option has required shoppers to flip back and forth among multiple sites. "We thought, what if we had all of that in one place?" says chief marketing officer Dave Hamel.

The re-launched site initially includes e-commerce content from more than 100 retailers alongside in-store specials. Where the option to purchase online is attached to an advertised product appearing in ShopLocal.com, the Buy Online button will be featured on the item`s product detail page, along with the address for and directions to the local store. Clicking the Buy Online button opens a new link to the item on the retailer`s web site.

Research by ShopLocal and the Dieringer Group shows that the Internet is used almost equally in shopping for purchasing online and in researching for store purchase, Hamel says. He adds that ShopLocal`s own data show that a third of visitors who search for a product at ShopLocal discover that product at a retailer they didn`t know carried it. "So at least a third of those retailers would not otherwise have had the benefit of ­speaking to that consumer," he says.

Hamel`s own experience on the site is a case in point. When searching for a deal on a deck umbrella this summer, he consulted ShopLocal.com and found that the item was offered at Walgreen`s. "I would have gone to Home Depot or Target, because I thought that`s where you get deck umbrellas," he says. "But I bought one at Walgreen`s for $49, and I love that."

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