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By Samia Liamani, Guest Blogger, with Kaitlyn Williams and Christina Rafie

One of the biggest feats in today’s retail landscape is figuring out how to connect the digital world to the in-store shopping experience. In collaboration with account managers Kaitlyn Williams and Christina Rafie from OPM Pros, Samia Liamani shares insights on site-to-store initiatives, how to run them through the affiliate channel, and important steps to consider before diving in. 

What are site-to-store initiatives — and why push them through the affiliate partnership channel?

For merchants with both an online and brick-and-mortar presence, site-to-store campaigns are a great way to promote an omnichannel experience through the affiliate partnership channel. Site-to-store initiatives use the pull, convenience, and targeted messaging of the online advertising world to close the sale in-store. This is typically done by leveraging a third party, network technology, or offering a discount through one of our valued coupon and deal, closed-portal or app publisher partners. The most common technologies used are coupons, rebates, and card-linked offers. 

Ideally, as an advertiser in this day and age, you want to create a “boomerang effect” where you push your customers to shop at both ends: online and in-person, which can increase revenue per customer by 2-3 times over. With multiple touchpoints, the same messaging and experience should generate said boomerang effect, eventually motivating your customer to become even more loyal to the brand. According to RevTrax, a leading offer management platform, in-store revenue from an affiliate program will typically exceed ecommerce revenue within a year and the average click on an affiliate link typically yields more than $15 of in-store sales revenue.

Advantages you may see from driving a customer to your physical location is that there is potential for a higher average order value and a lower return rate. Site-to-store initiatives are best suited for retail merchants with a large number of stores (50+) or manufacturers who sell both online and through major retailers (i.e., Walmart).

How can my brand start introducing site-to-store offers?

The good news is that there’s a solution for everyone, with no need for the latest and greatest POS technology. Many vendors offer no-integration solutions. For example, at OPM Pros, we can give you a simple survey to identify the best approach for you to launch in-store offers. A/B testing is key when introducing an initiative like this, so for brands like Globo Shoes and the Reitmans group, OPM Pros will try using similar cashback offers currently running versus pushing new offers and different products to see which deals are converting best. 

When working with closed portal websites (i.e., student and employee benefit portals like Perkspot, Perkopolis, or Student Bean), it’s as easy as the shopper pulling up the coupon upon in-store purchase at checkout. More intricate partnerships with loyalty partners like Ebates may involve the customer linking their credit card to their account in order to be able to take advantage of the cashback offer. 

Technology partners like RevTrax offer both coupon and rebate-based solutions. RevTrax is a tool for retailers or manufacturers who want to drive incremental in-store sales from their existing affiliate program running on any network or platform.  RevTrax supports all publishers, tracks at the click-level, enables SKU-level offers, and can process returns and can launch in as little as 2 weeks. With this platform, OPM Pros is able to monitor goals alongside objectives and keep track of where the customer is in the purchase cycle (e.g., product trial, continuity of purchase, or brand switching) for customers like Staples Canada and other enterprises. 

What about the concern that site-to-store does not bring incremental value?

There is indeed concern that site-to-store initiatives do not drive new customer acquisition or that these deals are just layered on top of closed sales that would have been closed regardless, without the added cashback or discount. One way to avoid this is by being selective with partnerships to encourage incrementality. With apps like Stack (CA) or Dosh (USA), the customer is deliberately clicking through on the app and showing the unique coupon in-store. Loyalty publishers can encourage repeat purchases, plus capturing clients through the affiliate channel provides valuable data that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Some partners can also use audience data to identify new versus existing customers and dynamically serve offers and change commissions for each group.  Lastly, with in-store purchases, there is an increased chance at upselling, especially with high-ticket items. Not to mention that you can vary your offers for in-store versus online, or distinguish deals for new customers versus existing customers. 

Quick points to consider: 

  • Site-to-store campaigns will work best with retailers that have many brick-and-mortar stores, manufacturers that sell through major retailers, and stores that offer a novel and exciting in-store experience (e.g., Glossier). 
  • Ensure that you have a robust internal system to ensure that all employees of an advertiser can guarantee a seamless customer experience in-store. All marketing departments and all retail store employees should be aware of the current promotions, and customers should be able to redeem their deal on demand without any friction.
  • As a merchant, be ready to promote these in-store offers, or else all of the legwork will be for nothing. 

Ranked by Internet Retailer as the leading affiliate marketing agency in North America for three years in a row, OPM Pros by Gen3 Marketing drives billions of dollars in sales for their clients by creating exceptional, results-driven value for their partners through the power of relationships, strategy and innovation. Gen3 Marketing, OPM Pros, AffiliateManager.com and The Performance Company have four offices across the United States and Canada, serving over 300 brands collectively. With services spanning brand-aligned strategy, partner recruitment, network management, insights and analytics, compliance, migrations, and creative, our seasoned affiliate account managers and operations department are an extension of your team.

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