Crossing the Digital Divide: 6 Best Practices for Department Stores and Digital Marketplace Retailers

When it comes to department stores and marketplace retailers, digital truly is the divide. Traditional legacy brands have struggled with ecommerce, while their digital-first counterparts haven’t been able to translate to the physical world. But as our Retail Personalization Index proves, plenty of retailers — Sephora reigns supreme, but eBay isn’t that far behind — have successfully bridged the gap.

That means their competitors have to do the same, quickly. And doing so is often about getting back to the basics.

It’s easy for department stores to get caught up in Shiny Object Syndrome, ignoring the fundamentals in favor of the bells and whistles like smart fitting rooms and augmented reality displays. Traditional department stores are improving their ecommerce offerings. However, in many cases, the smaller, newer upstarts are the brands really redefining the digital customer experience. Those same crucial tenets of digital marketing, including email and mobile, will also help offline players operationalize their customer experiences.

That’s why we created a guide that looks at both sides of the digital divide. We’ve detailed six best practices to help these retailers maintain their momentum, featuring use cases from Amara, JustFab, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora and Shopbop.

Sephora - Driving store traffic with email

Here’s a taste:

Let Digital Data Dictate Direct Mail Like Saks Fifth Avenue

Digital-first companies have a leg up on traditional brick-and-mortar department stores in terms of using data to create a cross-channel, personalized experience. But these legacy companies have the opportunity to use their data to enhance their offline marketing. This is particularly true when it comes to direct mail.

The Macy’s and Targets of the world send catalogues, and personalization would take them to the next level. Have one of your email campaigns ever achieved an 81% open rate? Probably not. However, that’s the average number of consumers who at least scan their direct mail, according to United States Postal Service data.

Sure, applying 1:1 personalization to direct mail is difficult. Measurability is challenging and of course, there’s the high cost of printing at scale. Luckily, personalizing direct mail doesn’t have to be that complex. Things like inserts, wraps and belly bands provide ample opportunities to use digital data to personalize postage. If a customer has historically purchased men’s clothing — or jewelry, beauty products, homewares, you get the idea — send them the most relevant catalog, or wrap your one-size-fits-all catalog with a men’s specific feature.

A post-purchase stream is a great way to build loyalty and prime future sales. Saks Fifth Avenue takes this strategy offline, using direct mail as a personal touchpoint which factors into the overall customer lifecycle. Saks mails handwritten thank you notes to customers. It’s a way to make customers feel valued and appreciated… making them value and appreciate your brand more, in turn. While this is a clienteling play, think about this approach next time you’re going into a direct mail focused meeting.

Saks Fifth Avenue - Thank you note

To learn more about mobile messaging, driving store traffic with email and other tactics, download Crossing the Digital Divide: 6 Best Practices for Department Stores and Digital Marketplace Retailers here!

Crossing the Digital Divide: 6 Best Practices for Department Stores + Online Marketplace Retailers

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