Multichannel retailing vs. web-only strategies

RetailWire panelists recently discussed whether specialty stores are better off pursuing a web-only strategy. My opinion:

For most large chains (especially those with an existing bricks & mortar footprint), multichannel retail seems to make the most sense. The website provides an important avenue for brand marketing, a platform for social networking, and (most important) a method to drive sales with broader assortments than the physical stores can carry.

For smaller specialty stores, however, I think it’s a harder choice: Is it easier to cultivate the same kind of “brand loyalty” with a website only, without the parallel advantage of a store location and human interaction? I’m not so sure, especially in the cluttered world of specialty apparel retailing.



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