The growing number of influential Weibo commentators are increasingly opening their own online shops or promoting products.
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Famous Footwear usually sells a higher concentration of fashion- forward products online compared to in stores, because the web enables it to more quickly see how customers are reacting to new fashions as well as display more merchandise. Once it learns how customers take to new products, it shares that information with stores so they focus on the proven sellers. “We can definitely help our stores with shopping trends,” Bledsoe says.
Famous Footwear is still striving to improve the way it coordinates multi-channel marketing and merchandising, Bledsoe says. One challenge is to better coordinate online and store displays to match images in marketing campaigns. “We want customers to shop our site the way they shop our stores,” he says. “We develop product stories all the time, but from a technical standpoint we can’t always respond to the stories with online images. For example, if we’re promoting collections of pink and green shoes, we can display them in bunches in our stores but we haven’t been able to group them together in images online. But if pink and green shoes are hot for spring, we want to show them better online. So we’re seeking a third-party search and navigation tool to do that.”
The continuing quest
No doubt Bledsoe and other multi-channel retailers will continue to look for ways to leverage each of their channels to improve the way they reach out to customers to build relationships and maximize sales. Famous Footwear recently integrated its web site with its back-end CRM system to allow members of its Rewards loyalty program to manage their account information for points earned both online and in stores. It’s now planning to make gift cards available online, letting customers purchase, redeem and check balances of gift cards on the web. Both services should also serve to keep shoppers coming back to the site more often. “Whether in-store or online we’re dedicated to providing our customers with that seamless, integrated customer experience,” Bledsoe says.
Adds Ross-Simons’ Matthies: “We all believe it’s very important, but we don’t yet do as much as we might in multi-channel marketing. We do our best to convince people that Ross-Simons is the right place to buy jewelry. We’re still trying to figure out the best ways to do that.” l