Friday, February 25, 2005

Bath & Body Works using web to drive store traffic

This is an interesting article about how Bath & Body Works uses the internet to bring people into their stores. Personally, I think that they could be successful offering e-commerce as well as driving retail traffic. However, they clearly know that their stores are their point of differentiation as well as their value add.

The article was in an email I received from AD:TECH.

Bath & Body Works has more than 1,700 brick-and-mortar stores in
the US. Naturally the chain also has a spiffy Web site.

However, what they don't have is ecommerce functionality. The
chain made the strategic decision -- for the time being anyway -
not to directly sell products online.

Aside from functioning as a brand placeholder and offering store
locator maps, can a true brick-and-mortar use the Web to drive
in-store sales? The answer, says Shannon Glass, Director of
Internet Strategies, is a definite yes.

"We're really spending a lot of time understanding the power of
the Web as it relates to educating our customers about product.
When you're not commerce based, there's time to focus on these
other things."

So far two tactics have stood out as winners: offering printable
shopping lists and coupons. Here are details:

-> Tactic #1. Printable shopping lists

Although the site doesn't have a shopping cart (because nothing
can be purchased without visiting an offline location) Glass and
her team wanted to enable the first half of the shopping process
... looking around and adding items to a personal list.

It's the fun part of shopping anyway, so why not let consumers do
it online? The list can be printed out and, if the visitor has
searched for stores in their geographical vicinity, the list
includes locations of nearest Bath and Body Works stores.

Through testing, the team discovered two specific ways to make
shopping lists more successful:

o Don't require registration to create a shopping list

Initially the site required registration before a consumer could
start a personal list. Last November the team tested removing
that requirement -- and voila, list use went rocketing upwards.

Now, site visitors can browse, add things to their shopping list,
and print the list, all without ever having to register.

"Now we've made it as easy as it can be, and bare bones work
better for us. We don't need a lot of bells and whistles. If I
were to pull one thing out as advice for other marketers, I'd say
stop having them register," says Glass.

On the other hand, if visitors want to save their shopping list,
or email it as a wish list to friends or family, they can

"It's a really big component for us," says Glass. "People are
spending more, and we're seeing success with the sheer number of
people who are using the list."

o Offer a bonus offer to increase usage

When a visitor adds an item to their shopping list, they get a
pop-up that shows the item was successfully added to the list and
that offers a free body wash with a $20 purchase from the list.

Then, their print-out of the list includes a tracking number that
allows stores to track redemption.

There's an inherent challenge in making the offer work, however:
If a shopper spends only $6 from items on the shopping list but
finds an additional $14 worth of items that weren't on the list,
for instance, will they receive the bonus?

"Probably," says Glass. "The sales associate would have to make
that call; it's something we need to address."

-> Tactic #2. Trackable email coupons

Glass' team sends bi-monthly email coupons with trackable
barcodes which, as with the shopping list offer, allows stores to
track redemption.

Offers have included:
-- complimentary product with any purchase
-- complimentary product with specified dollar-amount purchase
-- complimentary product with specified additional product

"Free product with any purchase is risky, because it allows
people to come in and buy a $1 product," Glass says. However,
sometimes that's appropriate, particularly when the objective is
simply to get shoppers in the door. Three key learnings around
email offers:

o Offers based on amount spent are more effective than those
based on what is bought

For example, coupons for a free product with a $20 purchase work
better than coupons for a complimentary product with purchase of
another specific product, because it gives people the ability to
decide what they want to shop for, Glass believes.

o Viral component allows for good prospecting

While the email coupons have a barcode that can be tracked, Bath
and Body Works doesn't use technology that limits people to print
coupons only once, or that keeps them from emailing coupons to

This has allowed their success to grow significantly. While Glass
was unable to share percentages of people who redeem coupons in
stores, she did say that, "compared with industry standards we're
doing well."

o Be wary of coupon abusers

"People register for these things and their whole purpose is to
post coupons [on other sites]," says Glass. She is beginning to
evaluate how big a problem those coupon sites are, and if she
needs to start limiting how often a single coupon is accessed and


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