Facebook for Business – Social Media in Your Marketing Mix: Place
Place has most certainly changed and extraordinarily so. Marketing strategy decisions regarding Type/Location of Stores must now include a company website with e-commerce capability. There was once the dominance of the brick and mortar store and perhaps a call center for catalog sales. Service providers, both B2C and B2B, were call-in businesses. Find the number on your Rolodex or phone book and call in your request or order. Now a growing number of businesses have a web presence as shown in the following data from Barlow Research on small businesses from $100,000 to $10,000,000 in annual sales.
- 49% currently have a website
- 13% do not have a website but plan to within the next 12 months
- 38% do not plan to have a website within the next 12 months
The study revealed that 84% of companies from $10 million to $500 million in sales have websites. The implication being that having a website to a great extent is a budgetary consideration. Given the large number of non-employer businesses included in the sample, one can also assume that the technical sophistication of the business owner is also a major determining factor.
An important consideration in the impact of the internet on “Place” is not online shopping, but “web influenced” sales also discussed in “Pricing.” The use of online product, retailer and pricing information and reviews creates a hybrid marketplace.
A company website has often become dominant over or equivalency to the brick and mortar company store. Many businesses have been able to rationalize the cost of large scale retail store chains and sell exclusively or near exclusively online. In other cases, new businesses have been started that sell product or services online that were once the domain of retail stores.
Other major retailers have kept their stores, but have augmented “Place” with lucrative ecommerce sites. In this case the website augments the traditional brick and mortar site.
- Office Depot
To say this hasn’t been revolutionary would be grossly underestimating the impact the internet has had on marketing. Take for example the all important Christmas holiday shopping season. Fighting traffic jams, over flowing parking lots and holiday shopping melees involving pepper spray has not thwarted the great majority of holiday shoppers from hitting the malls to enjoy the experience. As discussed in the Pricing section, the value proposition for conventional retail shopping will need to be emphasized and the marketer will have to take a hard look at the cost structure of the brick and mortar presence and evaluate where the value is relative to cost in the evolving market.