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Staples customers complete purchases in-store, despite online ad interaction

August 21, 2014

photo[5]_opt-14Staples Canada found that many consumers complete their purchases in a bricks-and-mortar store despite being exposed to and interacting with ads online in a digital coupon campaign.

For three months, the Canadian office-supply chain tracked a digital coupon campaign that offered consumers $10 off on an order of $30 or more at its Copy & Print center. The results were eye-opening for the Richmond Hill, Ontario-based unit of Staples Inc., in terms of identifying the elements driving in-store revenue.

“Online sales only represent a portion of the total impact had by online marketing activity,” said Aaron Goldman, chief marketing officer with marketing-technology maker Kenshoo, which worked with Staples in the project, along with Revtrax, a digital coupon and promotions platform.

“Through Revtrax and Kenshoo, Staples was able to close the loop between online and offline and track all sales generated by its Copy & Print promotion,” Mr. Goldman said. “From there, a true ROI calculation could be made and the campaign could be optimized based on which ads were working best.”

Reducing costs
The knowledge will help the chain reduce costs and improve omnichannel effectiveness.

Most of Staples Canada’s purchases still occur in-store, so evaluating the success of a digital marketing campaign through an ecommerce-only lens provides a limited and inadequate definition of success.

The coupon campaign showed that business customers drive the highest average order value when converting through non-brand keywords, it said.

Staples Inc. was a late-mover in mobile with work not beginning in earnest until 2012.

In May, Ryan Bartley, head of mobile at Staples, Framingham, MA, told the Mcommerce Summit: State of Mobile Commerce 2014, that Staples’ mobile story right now is more about how it is transitioning and reimagining the entire business, with mobile at the forefront. As a result, what is currently in market is not on the cutting edge, but he expects this to change in the near future as the mobile team works to quickly introduce new solutions.

The new mobile strategy is in response to the significant shift Staples sees in use and eyeballs going to mobile, with 10 percent of the retailer’s ecommerce volume now done through mobile.

A key focus of the retailer’s mobile strategy will be on reducing friction for shoppers as opposed to engaging shoppers.

One way the retailer hopes to achieve its mobile vision is by taking advantage of Staples’ current assets and capabilities, such as the ability to deliver online orders the next day to 98 percent of the population. Staples also has a large sales force and large customer service organization already in place.

During the coupon campaign, critical KPIs improved dramatically, including a 200 percent increase in incremental ROI, a more than 9 percent increase in average weekly redemptions, a redemption increase of 148 percent from first to final week, and more than 1.4 million impressions. Simultaneously, average cost-per-click dropped 11 percent.

The coupon could be printed, accessed as an online ecommerce code or displayed as a mobile landing page, depending upon where it was accessed. Once the coupon was redeemed, Staples Canada supplied the redemption data to RevTrax, enabling the matching of search campaigns and keywords to in-store transactions.

Staples is pushing hard into mobile after a slow start.

Staples is pushing hard into mobile after a slow start.

Kenshoo integrated the keyword-level conversion data into its platform, enabling campaigns to be optimized in real-time for performance by tailoring ad copy and informing bid policies to drive more coupon redemptions.

Raising questions
The huge jump in return on investment for paid search campaigns and the increase in average weekly redemptions raises questions about conventional thinking about paid search.

“By factoring in offline sales through Revtrax and Kenshoo, Staples Canada was able to determine that it’s ROI from paid search was 2x higher than previously thought,” Mr. Goldman said.

“By creating a unique landing page with coupon for paid search visitors to its website, Staples saw redemption rates nearly 10 percent higher. Clearly, connecting paid search intent with customized offers drives higher conversions.

 Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter with Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.

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