Fishing Interconnected Waters For Brick-And-Mortar Success?

Call it a tale of Omni success with powerful suction. In the May Omnicommerce Tracker™, powered by Vantiv, PYMNTS talked to SharkNinja VP Ajay Kapoor about how the company has used connected tools, including a mobile website and social media marketing, to boost its market share in the U.S. to 20 percent — and turn it into the top vacuum manufacturer in the country. Find that, plus news and a directory of 79 players in the space, inside the new Tracker.

From eCommerce warehouses like Amazon to social media sales, it’s no secret that constant connectivity has changed many consumers’ shopping habits.

But while more people opt for mobile and online channels than ever, traditional brick-and-mortar retail hasn’t vanished. In fact, new industry research indicates that 70 percent of consumers still value physical retail stores. And, according to the United States Census Bureau, the clear majority of retail transaction volume — more than 90 percent — is still spent offline.

Evolving from Pup to Shark

New brands are still being built through brick-and-mortar sales. SharkNinja, for example, a manufacturer of consumer goods, such as vacuums and blenders, has ridden sales at traditional retailers — including legacy department stores like Macy’s — to grow from a tiny player to becoming the largest producer of vacuum cleaners in the U.S., besting names like Dyson and Hoover.

However, Ajay Kapoor, vice president of SharkNinja, recently told PYMNTS that the company’s brick-and-mortar success doesn’t mean they’ve ignored digital. In fact, Kapoor said, the company has used connected tools, including mobile websites and social media marketing, to sweep up SharkNinja’s market share of vacuum cleaners in the U.S. from 1 percent to 20 percent.

“There’s always going to be a core of consumers who buy online, a core that buy over the phone and a core that buy in-store,” Kapoor said. “So, it’s about reaching consumers who are likely to buy our products in all those areas.”

Fishing Where the Fish Are

One of the biggest challenges for a growing company in a competitive space — like SharkNinja — is increasing name recognition among consumers. If a shopper walks into a store looking to buy a product, they likely have a few brands or manufacturers in mind.

That often means focusing on building brand awareness and marketing via traditional advertising channels, and SharkNinja has reaped rewards for these placements, Kapoor said. He points to commercials and longer infomercials on television that demonstrate the product’s capabilities. But these days, fewer shoppers are sitting down in front of a TV — especially for commercials — and even fewer are using commercials to make purchase decisions.

As a result, Kapoor said, the company has also cultivated an active following on social media, giving consumers more faith that other shoppers like them have enjoyed using the company’s products. Social platforms also reach millennials and other younger consumers who may not be influenced by TV ads.

“A lot of times on social media you see companies just dealing with complaints or things like that,” he said. “But we see a lot of activity on our site and reviews that are glowing, and we use that to start a positive conversation about the products and get people sharing their experiences. Other shoppers see those reviews, and they are much more likely to buy from us, if they feel like a real person is endorsing it on social media.”

That social media savvy is also being applied to SharkNinja’s advertising decisions. The company is beginning to invest more heavily in online and mobile advertising, Kapoor told PYMNTS, and is using many of the same principles and ideas that have found success on social media.

The company is also using what it has learned from traditional advertising to better target these new online ads toward consumers who are most likely to make a purchase.

“We have a lot to learn and a lot to do, but something that really benefits us is that we have a ton of first-market data,” he said. “Those years of selling the product through infomercials have given us a good idea of who our consumers are, and now we know what we need to do to reach those kinds of customers on the digital side as well.” 

Feeding the Fish 

But even if a brand can create enough of an impression on a consumer to visit a brick-and-mortar store, that’s only half the battle. At many major retail stores where products like SharkNinja’s blenders and vacuums are sold, there are dozens of other brands available.

And no one wants to miss out on a good deal, or a good product. Brand recognition may get a shopper into the store, but other factors like price or feature availability can greatly impact purchasing decisions, Kapoor said. Today’s consumer will often comparison shop before heading to the cash register, and that typically means whipping out a smartphone to search for more information online.

If a customer can’t find what they’re looking for quickly, Kapoor said, they’re likely to choose another product that they can read about in the moment. To make sure more of these searches lead to SharkNinja sales, the company’s mobile website is designed to quickly give customers the information they want, he said.

“Our challenge is meeting the consumer wherever they want to make their purchase and giving them all the resources and tools they want, and need, so the experience is as enjoyable as possible and they can make what they feel is a smart decision,” he said.

Whether it’s a fast mobile site or a steady social media presence, in this modern age of constant connectivity, it seems offline and online success increasingly go together.

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About the Tracker

The Omnicommerce Tracker™, powered by Vantiv, features industry-spanning research and insights that arm retailers with data to make smarter decisions for enabling omnichannel commerce.