multichannel marketing

Multichannel marketing is offering customers more than one way to buy something - for example, from a Web site as well as in retail stores.

Multichannel marketing is offering customers more than one way to buy something - for example, from a Web site as well as in retail stores. For manufacturers, multichannel marketing also includes the use of partners, sometimes known as channels, who market directly to the customer as consultants, repackagers, or retailers.

For retailers, advocates claim that, in addition to offering the customer more options, multichannel marketing allows a business more opportunities to interact with customers - each channel can help promote the other channels. Since Web site and phone-in mail orders collect information about the customer that a retail sale may not, these channels make it possible to develop mailing lists for future promotions and branding campaigns.

Eddie Bauer is sometimes used as an example of a multichannel marketer that offers "brick, click, and flip" - retail stores, Web site, and catalogs. At least one study says that customers of multichannel companies spend 30% more than customers of one-channel companies.

For manufacturers with partner channels, marketing directly from a Web site sometimes raises the problem of how to preserve the partnerships which Web site sales may tend to undercut. Approaches to solving his problem include using the Web site to refer customers to partners and limiting the quantities involved in any one direct sale.

This was first published in March 2007

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