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Although many retail businesses have mastered the art of multichannel direct marketing, many are still apprentices when it comes to cross-channel integration, according to (via MediaPost) a report by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).

“Because many, if not most, retailers have now moved beyond brick and mortar and have added other channels – catalogs, websites, TV, and radio – for both sales and promotions, this report analyzes direct marketing practices in each individual channel and investigates channel integration,” said Eugenia Steingold, Ph.D., DMA, senior research manager and the report’s chief author.

Among the key findings of the report, titled “Channel Integration and Benchmarks in the Retail Industry“:

  • The absence of a brick-and-mortar store is becoming prevalent among retailers – 41% of survey respondents don’t have a physical store.
  • The website is the most consistently used direct marketing channel, followed by email and direct mail.
  • Mobile is the direct marketing channel retailers are least likely to use.
  • Among the survey respondents, 66% gather customer information from direct mail, and 65% gather it from the internet.
  • About 83% of respondents segment their customers based on demographics, 77% do so based on purchasing frequency, and 76% on products purchased.
  • Just 33% of respondents provide cross-channel order fulfillment.
  • Discounts remain the most popular loyalty program, with 80% of respondents using them.
  • Brick-and-mortar stores (20%) and websites (22%) produced the highest level of revenue in 2007.

“The report’s conclusion is quite clear,” Steingold said. “To be successful, retailers need to merge and synchronize all channels in terms of consistent brand message, timing, creativity of promotions, loyalty programs, and fulfillment. To achieve such a level of integration, organizational support and restructuring might be necessary. ”

About the data: DMA conducted an online survey in November 2007, with 101 retailers participating.

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