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Cornerstone Brands exec: 25pc of traffic comes from mobile

March 4, 2013

PALM DESERT, CA – A Cornerstone Brands executive at eTail West said that as the company sees an uptick in mobile traffic, there is a shift to taking some of the business from an analog to a digital mindset.

During the keynote “Understanding Current Trends Impacting The Future of Multichannel and Online Retail” session, executives from Cornerstone Brands, Cabela’s, Mark Ecko Enterprises, Maxymiser and Hudson’s Bay Company discussed how they are adapting their marketing to digital as part of an omnichannel approach. The session was moderated by Robert Cell, CEO of MyBuys, San Mateo, CA.

“Smartphones and tablets combined are above 25 percent of our traffic from those channels so it is interesting when you think about the catalog shopper – they may be older and rural – and we are surpassing a lot of the sites out there just in terms of traffic and the demand,” said Bryon Colby, senior vice president of digital commerce at Cornerstone Brands, West Chester, OH.

“The demand is much more from tablets than smartphones,” he said.

Mobile learnings
Cornerstone Brands tried using QR codes last year. Although the brand received a postal discount on the initiative, engagement was lower than the brand was accustomed to.

Being able to experiment with new technologies such as QR codes is a low-budget way to try out digital marketing. Cornerstone Brands is still evaluating the opportunities with mobile bar codes.

When it comes to resources to allocate towards mobile, all of Cornerstone Brands are integrating mobile into both strategic and tactical operations at the individual department level. For example, email teams are thinking about mobile-optimized email and creative teams think about how images will be formatted on differently-sized screens.

Email continues to be one of the most used digital channels for marketers. The trick though is finding ways to target consumers better.

Product discovery plays a big role for Cornerstone Brands to help consumers quickly find what they are looking for.

One of Cornerstone Brand’s biggest challenges is that print catalogs still work, but digital is increasingly becoming the go-to place for c0nsumers to shop. Per Mr. Colby, more than 68 percent of total sales for Cornerstone Brands come through digital channels.

“We are trying to move some of our business from an analog to a digital mindset, and that is our biggest challenge,” Mr. Colby said.

“I feel as if we should have an advantage since we are direct and used to mining and modeling, but there is still a big leap from the print side to digital,” he said.

Multichannel retail
According to Scott Williams, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Cabela’s, Sidney, NE, its consumers over-index on tablets.

The important part with mobile though is figuring out how the medium impacts sales from other channels.

Additionally, the company has been building up its mobile team. Cabela’s opened up an office in Denver three weeks ago with a team that works on user experience, digital, social and mobile.

The in-store experience also plays a big role in Cabela’s mobile strategy.

“We have done some piloting – what I call outfitter mobility – but we have kiosks as well that we can walk them over to,” Mr. Williams said.

“To me that is a perfect example of where omni is really important to make sure that you have the incentives set up with the in-store associate to complete the sale with the customer regardless of where they are,” he said.

Social is mobile
According to Paul Dunay, vice president of marketing at Maxymiser, New York, social commerce is taking a backseat to mobile.

“We are seeing a big shift towards putting dollars into where the action really is, which is on mobile,” Mr. Dunay said.

“Launching that dedicated mobile app is staring people in the face right now,” he said.

However, there has to be a critical reason for consumers to have an app, according to Lee Bissonnette, president and general manager of ecommerce at Mark Ecko Enterprises, New York.

The impact from responsive design is brutal to a creative team, but it has to be done to keep up with consumers accessing content from multiple devices, per Mr. Bissonnette.

Getting a participatory element from consumers in-store is critical for Mark Ecko. The goal is to make the Web a hub that lets consumers interact with screens and content in stores.

“What we are really trying to do is design for the future and incorporate social and mobile and incorporate the store to drive sales and create one brand experience,” Mr. Bissonnette said.

“The customer is coming in with their device – I want to have devices in the store that extend that experience,” he said.

“That is very challenging – you have privacy issues and training issues because people in the store have to know how it works, but I think you can’t ignore it.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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