Lessons from Kohl’s and Brit + Co in Connecting Mobile and Instore, and Content-driven Commerce in Action

Closeup shot of a woman hand typing a text on mobile phone. Businesswoman holding a modern smart phone at office. Shallow depth of field with focus on cellphone.

There have been some rude awakenings lately for any retailer or publisher still dragging their feet on multichannel integration. At Kohl’s, the activities of online shoppers are influencing real-estate decisions; Brit + Co is using online lessons to generate real-world purchases.

At Kohl’s, Online Shoppers Influence Real-Estate Decisions

While online shopping has been around for decades, the massive clout of the online shopper just became dramatically more clear for brick-and-mortar retailers.

Consider this: The mobile app from department store Kohl’s has been downloaded 12 million times. Among the important data points yielded by that app: Which stores customers use the most to pick up merchandise bought online. Kohl’s says it’s using that information to decide which stores stay open, and which get shuttered.

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“[W]e can understand what products customers are looking at, what they’re searching for and what they want to buy online and pick up in store,” Ratnakar Lavu, Kohl’s chief technology officer, said to the National Retail Federation’s Stores Magazine.

Kohl’s strategy seems plenty smart, but for customers, the buy online, pickup in-store phenomenon looks like only an interim solution. In the same way that faxes were great until email took over, buying online and picking up in-store seems like it’ll last about as long as it takes for Amazon to get its fleet of drones up and running.

How Content Drives Commerce at Brit + Co

Read about it, watch it, buy it. That’s the content-driven commerce strategy powering Brit + Co, the San Francisco-based DIY clearinghouse for the millennial set. DigiDay reports that Brit + Co sales are up 234% since last year.

Brit + Co uses content to fuel the sale of classes, and the classes to fuel sales of bundled supply kits. With a recent $20 million venture raise, they’ll be doubling down on this strategy, even though most of Brit + Co’s revenue currently comes from advertising.

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Recently, a popular mini-lesson video on hand lettering generated user requests for a Facebook Live session. The popularity of that session prompted the development of an online class and a kit of hand lettering tools and materials. Readers can buy the class alone or purchase a discounted bundle that includes both the class and the kit. And short videos with tips on how to figure out post-college life are being developed into a for-fee online class on how to quit a job without burning bridges.