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  • Cecile Corral

Retailers tout linking channels

NEW YORK -At the "Multi-channel shopping: The customer perspective" session, a panel of multi-channel retailers "vouched" for the successes of multi-channel storefronts and on the importance of linking them to each other.

A recent study by Bizrate. com found bricks-and-clicks retailers-those who sell both off- and online-are rapidly stealing "major market share from the pure players," said Seth Geiger, vp of e-commerce and professional services for Bizrate.com. "Shoppers are showing a tendency to move toward brands they are already familiar with offline."

And while in previous years the Internet served as a shopping site for mostly upper-income consumers, this past holiday online leveled the playing field, attracting "a more overall middle American income," Geiger said.

"We've always viewed our website as another way for customers to shop the way they want to shop," said George Barr, director of Internet merchandising for Circuit City.

Added Shelley Nandkeolyar, vp of Williams-Sonoma Inc.'s e-commerce division: "There's a big lesson to be learned with synergy. A synergy with all your channels is vital."

At Circuit City, the "buy online, pick up at the store" capability, which allows customers to purchase a product from circuitcity.com and then pick up the item at nearby Circuit City location, is used by 50 percent of the store's customers.

"That alone is proof that this system of creating a synergy between the two channels really works," Barr said.

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