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E‑commerce startup Curebit introduces Retail Referrals to harmonize offline and online sales

As most sea­soned e‑commerce ana­lysts can tes­ti­fy, retail­ers often strug­gle to mar­ry their offline and online oper­a­tions; if some mar­riages are made in heav­en, this one often looks more like a war zone. But San Fran­cis­co e‑commerce start­up Curebit is tak­ing steps to bring peace and har­mo­ny between the two channels.

Reward­ing referrals

Found­ed in 2009, Curebit dri­ves sales for its retail clients by opti­miz­ing word-of-mouth refer­rals from their cus­tomers.  From its ori­gins as a tech­nol­o­gy out­fit, it’s mor­phed rapid­ly into more of an agency, advis­ing clients on what pro­mo­tions will work best for their busi­ness and why, pro­vid­ing copy­writ­ing, and design­ing pro­mo­tions.  It offers cus­tomers per­son­al­ized deals they can send to friends as gifts sim­ply by for­ward­ing a link or post­ing on Face­book.  The deals reward both the shop­per and the friend by giv­ing a dis­count on a pur­chase at the client’s store.

Curebit’s clients include Jaw­bone, Bono­bos,, and True & Co. E‑commerce ana­lysts who want some hard data about effec­tive­ness might try this for size: the refer­ral cam­paign it ran for Bono­bos in 2012, which involved switch­ing its refer­ral strat­e­gy from Face­book to e‑mail, drove 25 per cent more new cus­tomers to the site. Curebit’s analy­sis had sug­gest­ed e‑mail would con­vert bet­ter for Bono­bos; they were right.

Har­mo­niz­ing offline and online commerce

Now it’s step­ping brave­ly into the fraught rela­tions between retail­ers’ offline and online oper­a­tions with its new “Retail Refer­rals” pro­gram.  The startup’s co-founder and CEO, Allan Grant, explains:

“This is very applic­a­ble to major, clas­sic ‘old-school’ retail­ers right now, which are very con­cerned with the tran­si­tion [from offline to online].  A lot their sales are still hap­pen­ing offline right now — 90 to 95 per­cent. And in a lot of ways, they’re basi­cal­ly fight­ing between their offline and online channels.”

Retail Refer­rals is being tri­aled in each of Bono­bos’ six Guideshop loca­tions (these are stores where cus­tomers try on cloth­ing first, then make pur­chas­es via an in-store iPad or at home on the Bono­bos web­site).  Once cus­tomers make a pur­chase, a store clerk will ask whether they’d like to share an offer via e‑mail with friends.  If they do, they can share it there and then using the in-store iPad.

E‑commerce ana­lysts will no doubt be keen to hear how the pro­gram fairs dur­ing its tri­al. Watch this space.

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