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2013: The year the internet and high street make friends?

“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer,” they say – and while online marketing and web design have been enemies of the high street for several years, 2013 is likely to be the year that all changes.

Until recently, bricks-and-mortar stores have been seen as totally separate from online retail sites.

But the Europe B2C E-Commerce Report 2012, from Hamburg-based analyst yStats.com, ranks Argos and Tesco alongside Amazon as the UK’s biggest online retailers.

Obviously, both began life as physical-only stores, yet are competing alongside online-only Amazon for the top spot in the market.

It’s proof, if any were needed, of the value to be found in flexibility – and in embracing online marketing, rather than trying to overcome it – for retailers who previously had only bricks-and-mortar stores.

For 2013, however, there are other key trends that could finally see the two approaches pair up as a single combined trend in marketing as a whole.

Luxury clothing brand Ralph Lauren has been using QR codes creatively since 2011 – including a graphical code that incorporates its polo-player logo, and codes placed in window displays so, when its stores are closed, shoppers can buy online instead.

Further stores are making coupons available to mobile devices that can then be used at the till, turning online offers back into bricks-and-mortar sales – and with the rollout of 4G mobile data access, that’s a trend that’s only likely to continue.

So, for 2013, take a fresh look at your marketing strategy – including both offline and online marketing – and ask yourself whether it’s joined-up, or whether it stands in contradiction to itself.

A friendly, hand-holding approach to all of your different sales channels could be the step that makes the biggest difference to your chances of success in the coming year.

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