Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no denying that brands with a strong brick and mortar presence have been severely impacted by stay-at-home orders and mandatory store closures.
Evolving consumer behaviors towards online shopping presented a significant boost for retail-reliant brands and marketing budgets shifted accordingly to support ecommerce investment. However, ecommerce alone can’t make up for such a huge decrease in retail foot traffic. With many states in varying stages of reopening, brands need ways to efficiently drive both online and offline consumer engagement and to offer options for consumers that are comfortable with shopping in-store.
One strategy you may want to consider? Site to Store promotional offers through the affiliate channel. Below, we’ll get into what they are, how to use them, the benefits, and how national retailer Stein Mart leverages Site to Store offers as a part of their ongoing affiliate strategy.
What are Site to Store Offers?
Site to Store is a CJ solution that bridges the online to offline tracking gap. With these omni-channel offers, advertisers can leverage affiliate partnerships to drive in-store revenue by giving consumers a choice in how and where they make a purchase. Site to Store offers usually take the form of evergreen offers that run for an extended period of time (think weeks or a couple of months), or omni-channel offers that piggyback off of existing in-store promotions.
When a brand makes a Site to Store offer available to a publisher, the publisher gains the ability to extend the online shopping experience to in-store and still get a commission on the transaction. Once a shopper clicks through a Site to Store link, a coupon with a barcode is populated and when the coupon is redeemed in store, the retailer is able to tie the barcode back to the publisher that drove the consumer offline.
What are the Benefits?
The power of choice. Allowing customers more options to discover and interact with brands digitally, while deciding how and where they make a purchase—especially when comfort levels are so varied during this pandemic—is the true meaning of meeting customers exactly where they’re at right now. Presenting more purchasing options may also help to re-engage new customers acquired during the pandemic and drive subsequent purchases via their preferred shopping channel.
Reach new customers. Typical efforts to share an in-store offer through online channels such as email and social media depend heavily on brands’ existing relationships with consumers. Working with affiliate publishers allows your in-store promotions to reach new and unique audiences and incentivizes shoppers to check out a new store and ultimately, convert. This is also hugely beneficial in a time when typical paths to purchase and popular retailers have been shaken up and consumers are more open to trying new brands, retailers, and products.
Increases confidence in having the best deal. The ability to use the internet to pore over endless product reviews and search for the best deal can prevent some shoppers from buying in-store. However, with a Site to Store offer, consumers’ confidence in having the best deal increases, giving them the freedom to shop in person. In a time when many consumers are becoming more sensitive to price, promotions play a huge part in conversion—especially in-store.
Instant gratification. A lot of times consumers don’t need the best price if they can get the product they want quicker by shopping locally. This is especially true with shipping delays due to the pandemic. And after being stuck at home all day, having an errand to run creates a nice outing.
Create a deeper relationship. Driving consumers in-store presents opportunities for upselling and cross-selling as they browse. Although a lot of shoppers may be currently focused on getting in and out quickly, an in-store experience feels more personal.
Use ecommerce to support brick and mortar. Supporting retail locations is a big priority for many brands after months of closures, and existing affiliate partnerships can play a key part in those efforts. For a seamless user experience, as everything is constantly in flux, have Site to Store partners include a link to a store locator to provide consumers with easy access to updated information about their local store and current hours.
Stein Mart’s Site to Store Strategy: A Case Study
Stein Mart has a large brick and mortar footprint, and Site to Store has been a longtime part of their affiliate strategy with select partners—in 2019, Stein Mart drove 43% of their affiliate revenue through in-store shoppers. They’ve seen great success from this strategy—Stein Mart’s affiliate average order value (including sales that converted in-store) is 20% higher than their ecommerce AOV, and 89% higher than their overall in-store AOV. Stein Mart’s affiliate customers spend more per order and are confident that they can use the best deal online or in-store.
Site to Store promotions were paused during lockdown, but as Stein Mart began reopening stores, they resumed promoting in-store offers through the affiliate channel. “Since the start of the shelter-in place directive in March 2020, Stein Mart sales shifted from brick and mortar stores to our ecommerce site,” says Melodie Tamse, Digital Marketing Manager at Stein Mart. “Even though we saw a spike in online sales, we wanted to utilize our affiliates to spread the word that our stores were opening back up for our Memorial Day Sale. Omni-channel advertising was our best option. We were able to promote our sale to customers who didn’t yet feel comfortable shopping in-store, as well as to customers who wanted to venture out and shop in person.”
Although consumer engagement with in-store offers is currently down, Stein Mart’s Memorial Day Sale in-store offer drove 70% of the clicks normally driven through in-store offers, showing that consumer interest in shopping in store has begun to resume. "Due to this being the first omni offer post store reopenings, we’re incredibly happy with the results seen thus far. Our team is excited to build off the current momentum and be an active partner in facilitating consumers back into Stein Mart stores," said a longtime publisher partner.
Stein Mart’s affiliate in-store strategy has been essential to their recovery plans. As online and offline consumer behavior shifts back to a more normal equilibrium, affiliate Site to Store offers will become increasingly important as they maintain brick and mortar retail spending through digital strategy and capitalize on the omni-channel consumer shopping journey.
Interested in implementing Site to Store offers as a part of your brand’s affiliate strategy? Reach out to your CJ representative for more info.