May 22, 2008

Best Buy and B&H Multichannel Marketing

At ACCM, I heard a half dozen speakers drill the multichannel marketing script into the permeable heads of honorable conference attendees.

So today I am looking to purchase a camcorder. B&H sends me a catalog, a nice multichannel piece. So nice that it drives me to Best Buy to physically look at the camcorder. There, I find another camcorder I like. I notice that the price of this item appears expensive.

I go home, look at the Best Buy website, and see that the price is consistent between stores and online. Multichannel advocates rejoice! But the camcorder is still expensive. A price comparison reveals that the item is 20% cheaper at B&H, and 25% cheaper at

The item will be purchased at

Industry leadership continues to harp on the fact that multichannel marketing works. And today, it did work. A catalog from one brand led to a store visit at another brand, which led to an online search for the cheapest price, leading me to buy the camcorder from an online pureplay. Demand siphons out of the multichannel value chain, into an online pureplay. The multichannel marketers pay the freight for retail square footage and paper-based marketing, but lose the sale to a low-cost online pureplay that does not execute traditional advertising strategies.

An entire industry is missing the point of multichannel marketing. Pretty catalogs, integrated e-mail campaigns, and cross-channel inventory alignment is nice.

But multichannel marketing is pure pap, feckless when confronted by convenience, fast shipping, and cheap prices.

And worst of all, the multichannel industry fuels this trend by advertising the items that ultimately are purchased at pureplays that don't employ traditional advertising.


Aside: A Best Buy employee told a customer that he wanted to take her television outside to her car because it was too hot inside the building. She asked the employee why they couldn't turn on air conditioning. He said they couldn't because climate control was manned from Minneapolis. If that story is true, then Best Buy management is really knocking down some silos, huh folks?!!

Page Counts When Bifurcation Hurts All Other Customers

Yesterday we talked about the fact that best catalog customers (a minority of your file) deserve MANY catalogs that are merchandised with...