Posted January 16, 2012 3:57 pm by with 0 comments

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The January issue of STORES magazine has an article called 20 Ideas Worth Stealing. Since they’re advocating helping yourself, I figured they wouldn’t mind if I borrow a few of their ideas to share here.

The entire article is a great mix of basic marketing manners and innovations that use mobile and other digital options to enhance the in-store experience. But there are also ideas that the strictly online retailer can use as well.

Reward Loyalty

Home decor flash sales site One Kings Lane surprised 6,900 of its best customers with a special gift that shipped the first two weeks of November. Based on purchase history, shoppers received taper candles, a silver pitcher or an inlaid bone box.

If you’ve been reading my daily posts (you have been reading, them, haven’t you?), then you know this is one of my mantras. Reward, reward, reward. Getting customers is hard enough, keeping them is harder. Don’t let them get wooed away by coupon codes and deals from the competitor. Tell your best customers that you appreciate their business with a reward. Preferably one that doesn’t come with strings attached.

Using Mobile for More than a Laugh

UK retailer Kiddiecare adds QR codes to shelf tags that link customers to product videos. Says STORES:

“Customers can use their mobiles, select the QR code and watch the video on their mobile on the shop floor, rather than having to wait for staff during busy times,” Chris Wood, video production/project manager for Kiddicare, told “Sometimes the floor can be really crammed with people, and staff can’t keep up with demands.”

When done right, a video makes an excellent online sales person. It’s a fast way of presenting the features and benefits of a product. It’s especially helpful for mobile shoppers since a 2 minute video is easier to deal with than scrolling through pages of product details.

Video demos have influenced my decision to purchase phone apps, electronics and even a musical instrument. There’s no substitute for getting your hands on a product before buying. For online retailers, video is the next best thing.

Out of the Box Thinking

This last idea comes wrapped in caution tape. The example STORES uses is an invention designed to stop bad breath. After spending thousands on infomercials and getting no results. The creator turned the idea over to a class of young marketing students who created a viral video. The product was picked up by a few Walmart stores and then the creator took a big chance:

Orabrush purchased Facebook ads targeting users in Northwest Arkansas, home of the retail giant. The ad read: “Walmart employees have bad breath … Walmart needs to carry Orabrush! It will sell better than anything in your store.”

Within 48 hours, Walmart e-mailed; after a few more e-mails, Orabrush geared up production to meet the 735,000-unit order.

I’m amazed that such a juvenile tactic would work, but I suppose it’s possible. Certainly, out of the box thinking has launched more than one company. How far out of the box is the question.

Before going too far afield, think about your customer and what they might find amusing or offensive. We’ve seen cases where controversial campaigns succeed and we’ve seen others that brought big companies to their knees. This is dangerous territory but it could also be the kick your company needs to go from barely breaking even to major hit.

Want more inspiration? Read 20 Ideas Worth Stealing at