Winning over Online Shoppers thru Discovery Retail

Ray Villasenor

Most of us have had the experience of trying a new product because of a free sample. This is an especially popular marketing tool in the food, health and wellness, and beauty industries, which have long provided free, in-store samples.

But how do people try new products when shopping online?

This was the challenge a health and wellness client was facing early this year. They had invested in digital ad campaigns to generate leads and drive traffic to their website, but they wanted to find out if there were other ways to reach more of their visitors.

At the time, they were capturing 2% of their monthly website visitors, which is a typical capture rate for websites. However, this meant that 98% of their website visitors remained anonymous.

Once tried, their product spoke for itself. What our client needed was a way to get free samples to anonymous visitors.

We started by tracking their web visitors’ behavior, like shopping cart abandonment and visits to key product pages. Then, we matched their web visitors’ IP addresses to their physical home addresses, which allowed us to send a physical sample kit with an offer to try.

The sample kits were designed in collaboration with the client; they were fully customized, branded mail pieces that were ultimately sent to all their lead campaigns, including the anonymous visitors we helped them identify.

Our client was able to bring the in-store sampling experience of their wellness products to their online shopping platform, which ultimately widened their existing digital funnel, capturing web visitors they otherwise would have lost.

Our clients’ sampling program was in place before the pandemic, but its effectiveness was heightened by the retail shutdown and shift to online activity from home. This offers a glimpse into the future.

As the pandemic continues, we see the disruption in retail play out and a shift towards e-commerce. This change was already in motion, and has been accelerated by the pandemic, at warp speed.

Going forward, this evolution in retail will leverage online and virtual buying experiences, and businesses will need to find new, tangible ways for customers to discover their products. If not in a store, then in their homes.

The Disruption in Retail, The Atlantic, 4/2020
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