Since the late 1990s, industry experts have been documenting a growing trend among consumers: they are using the Internet not just as a sales channel but as a resource to learn about products and services before purchasing them in an offline channel. A February 2003 report by the UCLA Center for Communication Policy, in fact, found that 71.9% of Internet shoppers sometimes or often look online for products and then purchase those products in retail stores. Jupiter Research recently affirmed the trend as well in predicting that the Internet will influence 30% of all offline retail purchasing by 2007.
In response to this shift in consumer behavior, CoolSavings, Inc., an online direct marketing and media company, has introduced Buy Anywhere.
Through the Buy Anywhere program, participating advertisers will target CoolSavings' 25-million registered households with special promotional offers that can be redeemed at any of the retailer's various sales channels. Each offer -- which may be delivered through any combination of the coolsavings.com website, online newsletters, targeted email, direct mail or the Internet-wide CoolSavings Marketing Network -- will include pertinent information to enable the consumer to easily redeem the promotion, including store locations, a website link, or an 800-number to make a purchase or request a catalog. In addition, the offers will be singled out to consumers through a colorful Buy Anywhere logo, which designates that shoppers have the ability to take advantage of the promotion at the retail channel of their choice, such as a physical store, website, catalog or call center.
"Buy Anywhere is really about recognizing and gearing your marketing strategy to today's consumers shopping habits," said Mathew Moog, president and CEO of CoolSavings. "It's one point of contact with the consumer to encourage multiple points of purchase through your company, creating a 'win-win' for shoppers seeking more choice and convenience and retailers seeking more sales."
"In past experience," added Moog, "we've found that targeted email promoting an online-only offer often delivers significant traffic and sales at the advertiser's brick-and-mortar stores as well as its website. For one national department store client, email promotions actually drove four times as many offline purchases as online. Developing the Buy Anywhere program was a logical next step in supporting this growing trend."
An added feature of Buy Anywhere is the ability to analyze the shopping and purchasing patterns of a retailer's customers, and to efficiently measure the overall effectiveness of the advertiser's Buy Anywhere program in order to improve future efforts. CoolSavings offers a variety of services to achieve these objectives, including monitoring in-store traffic and sales through printable coupon redemption, determining performance lift through a database comparison, and utilizing click-stream data to track sales and traffic at the retailer's website.