The Comic Book Shoppe, a local business that owns two comic book stores and one anime store in Ottawa. They also attend local comic book and anime conventions in Ontario and Quebec to sell merchandise and attract new business.
Goals and Objectives
The two major objectives of the mobile strategy for the Comic Book Shoppe is to:
- Increase the amount of regular customers to the stores by 10%. While, the stores might get a lot of curious one off shoppers or shoppers who want it a specific thing, they might have less regular and weekly customers.
- The other major goal is to maintain their current weekly regular customers by at least 50%. In the age of digital comics (either offered through a specific publisher or on general websites like Comixology), instant streaming and merchandise delivered right to the door, the brand needs to have marketing strategies to increase traffic to their brick and mortar store or at conventions.
The two Comic Book Shoppe stores get a lot of business from families with small children. If people go into the store, particularly on the weekends they will always see families with small children who might come in to pick up a comic book for their child and themselves. Another common group of customers are male customers in the 35 to 54 year age group, who might be less interested or used to digital comics. It is difficult to determine if these customers are more casual or regular. Younger customers (13 to 17 year olds and 18 to 34 year olds) are less likely to go to brick and mortar stores, mostly like due to the ease of online solutions. Women of any age are also less represented. This might be due to the fact that women in comic fandoms have had negative experiences at comic book stores before and feel uncomfortable going into these stores.
Regular weekly customers are more likely to get their comics from a pull-list. A pull-list is a set of comics ordered and reserved specifically for a particular user. Pull-lists cause some problems. There is currently no mobile or online way for customers to create and maintain their pull-lists. This causes problems at the cash when customers want to set up a pull-list or alter their pull-list (to either take titles off the list or to add titles to the list), as it slows down the line and customer service. A mobile solution might help somewhat and make things easier for the customers.
The anime store’s customer demographics compared to the Comic Book Shoppe tends to skew younger and more female. This might be because there is less anime and manga available legally on digital formats. Also women tend to be more represented in anime and manga fandoms.
It’s hard to determine what platform we should use in developing applications for the Comic Book Shoppe. The ideal solution would be to create an IOS application and an Android application. However, given the costs related to creating a mobile application, it might be more cost efficient to create a web application to help people to manage their pull-lists. This runs less of a risk of alienating people who use a platform the store doesn’t or can’t support.
The trick is to ensure the development of responsive website that works across mobile devices. I would tend to develop more based on IOS and Android specifications, but also be general enough to account for blackberry users (I know many people who still have a blackberry device in Ottawa) and Windows phones (which I see people using on the bus).
As mentioned before, I think a pull-list mobile website is a great way to maintain current regular weekly customers as well as increase foot traffic into the stores. Users can set up a pull-list at anytime and maintain it. This will decrease time delays at the cash, allow customers a better system to add or remove books from the list, reduce confusion about what books should be ordered and might be less intimidating for new customers to set up in person. A barcode on the mobile site can be used so that the store gives the right people the right comics.
Though, I am not fond of it as a consumer I feel that an SMS campaign might actually be a really great system to attract new regular customers and maintain current customers. There are many ways SMS might work for the store:
- It’s a really great way for users to know what books are coming out on Wednesdays. Wednesday is new comic day. So maybe on Wednesday morning the store could sent out a text to SMS customers about the 10 most anticipated comics coming out on that day. Potential customers can see this and might come in to pick up books on that day.
- Reminding pull—list customers to come in and pick up their comics. If people are reserving several books a month it might be hard to remember when to come in, especially as comics companies do not have fixed release dates. A gentle reminder on Wednesday morning might be the solution for customers picking up comics promptly.
- Letting people know about special events and sales. For example, the first weekend of May is a big weekend for the Comic Book Shoppe. The first Saturday in May is Free Comic Book day, i.e. a day when specialty comic book shops give out free comic books, as a way of attracting new business. Also, May 4th is “May the Fourth be with you” day for Star Wars fans. So the Comic Book Shoppe often has a massive sale on Star Wars related merchandise. Reminders in the days leading up to this weekend might be helpful.
- Special convention deals and coupons also might be useful. For example, Ottawa Comic Con is the weekend of May 8th to May 10th and the Comic Book Shoppe is there. The Comic Book Shoppe also sells tickets to the convention. Therefore in that case, they could send an SMS coupon code to all the people who bought tickets from them, to come see them and get special deals on each day of the convention.
Alternatively email communications at targeted points during the day also might be a good idea to market to different mobile users. For example, emails sent to mobile phone users to target sales early in the morning, as people commonly look at their phone when they wake up.
Analytics and measurement
A good way to track regular weekly customers is to look at how many more pull-lists were gotten since putting a mobile strategy into place and how many people continued to use pull-lists throughout the year. For special events, sales and conventions, the store could also compare how much they earned the year before they started using SMS messaging to how much they are currently making.