How Rockler Uses Content to Compete with Brick and Mortar Store Rivals

How Rockler Uses Content to Compete with Brick and Mortar Store Rivals

In the Content Shout-Out Series, we find examples of exceptional, interesting content that adds unique value to its brand and audience. Our hope is to showcase great creativity and best practices in our industry, and to help our readers continue to conceive of content in fresh but attainable ways.

In this edition of our content shout-out series, we’re applauding Rockler, a woodworking and hardware retailer. (Rockler does have physical locations, but we’re focusing on its ecommerce efforts.) This great brand can teach you a thing or two about using content to make your site more competitive with brick and mortar store rivals.

The brick and mortar store vs. ecommerce fisticuffs has been going on for a while now. Buying online has its benefits—convenience, cost, inventory, etc.—but brick and mortar stores clearly have their own unique advantages. They have an immersive experience; buyers can touch, see, and smell their products, giving them more information to make their purchase decision. It’s science…sensory input has a positive effect of the evaluation of products.

This is a major pain point for online shoppers. Rockler themselves says it in a video we’ll mention below, “With so many options, how do you know what’s right for your project?” How do you know what to buy if you can’t handle the product and speak with a professional?

Content Enhances the Online Store Experience

What Rockler does very well is help accommodate for the lack of sensory data with its content. While we’re not at the point in technology where we can make our sites smell like the Body Shop, Rockler content gives online shoppers a proxy experience of handling an item in a brick and mortar store, through a balance of images, copy, and video.

Rockler content gives online shoppers a proxy experience of handling an item in brick and mortar stores, through a balance of images, copy, and video.

In a recent Search Engine Watch article about data that shows a shift away from in-store purchasing, Nathan Safran pointed out the opportunity for this tactic. (The void he refers to is the lack of sensory data in ecommerce transactions.)

This void can be at least partially filled by retailers who focus on helping buyers to make a purchase decision.  This means providing buyers with rich information they might otherwise glean in an in store visit.  And, it means providing rich media assets—large, detailed imagery, video and user reviews, all designed to appeal to the senses that would otherwise be stimulated in store, with the goal of helping the user make an educated buying decision.

To understand how Rockler is accomplishing this, let’s take a look at the article Choosing the Right Drawer Slide.

rockler article choosing the right drawer slide

The above screenshot is the top section of the article. I’ve highlighted the sections to show you that the distribution of video, copy, and images are roughly balanced.

The article as a whole has a wide variety of mediums: instructional videos, pictures, diagrams, explanations, and more. Just as Nathan’s quote describes, all these page elements appeal to shoppers’ senses, giving them rich information that they might otherwise glean from an in-store visit. It is this balanced combination of all medium types—creating visual and audible data that help approximate a brick and mortar shopping experience.

All these page elements appeal to shoppers’ senses, giving them rich information that they might otherwise glean from an in-store visit.

Video Content Helps Replicate the Brick and Mortar Store Experience

Videos are invaluable for ecommerce. A staggering 96% of consumers find video useful when making a purchase decision online. Visual imagery, after all, allows buyers to imagine the consumptive experience. It supplies some of that sensory experience that being in a brick and mortar store would. Videos also make the interaction more relatable; the attendant featured in the Rockler videos helps customers feel as though they’re in the good hands of a seasoned expert.

The videos in the article show dozens of variations of drawer slides and features; they replicate the experience an brick and mortar store shopper would have perusing and testing different options. (Check out 1:05 for some mesmerizing open and closing action.)

Rockler’s Content Succeeds in Search and Customer Psychology

We’ve touched on the fact that Rockler’s content offsets some of the advantages its brick and mortar store competitors have. Let’s now look at a couple advantages that Rockler’s online presence has over its brick and mortar store competitors.

It’s important to note that Rockler is not just creating product pages with a lot of rich media. This is content that instructs and answers questions. And that’s a powerful way to get traffic and conversions, for two reasons.

1)    Rockler is dominating a high volume, low competition SERP. 

The beauty of this rich, informational content is that it’s highly discoverable.

Below are the results of the query [Things to look out for when buying a tablesaw], a slide from Nathan Safran’s ClickZ NYC presentation.

early buyer's journey search queryInterestingly, Rockler is the only retailer that shows up in this SERP. All the other results are informational sites, and they do not sell woodworking equipment. Rockler is the only retailer in a high search volume and low competition search results page. That’s a major advantage to writing early buyer’s journey content.

On the other hand, if you look at the search results page for a more transactional query like [buy tablesaw], you’ll see that it is crowded with retailers.

Rockler is the only retailer in a high search volume and low competition search results page. That’s a major advantage to writing early buyer’s journey content.

2)    Rockler is shaping readers into future customers.

The people who land on this page are looking for information about table saws. Many of them are probably doing the initial research that precedes a purchase, what’s known as the early stages of the buyer’s journey. That means that although they might not buy that same day, many are forming opinions that will impact their purchase decision. This is what makes Rockler’s content very savvy:  Rockler is teaching readers about what they should value in a table saw and what factors they should look for when they’re ready to buy.

This is what makes Rockler’s content very savvy:  Rockler is teaching readers about what they should value in a table saw and what factors they should look for when they’re ready to buy.

For example, one section in the drawer slide article begins: “Decide whether you want special motion features.” Rockler is nurturing the idea that special motion features are an important part of drawer slides. Of course, special motion features are something Rockler offers. When it comes time to buy, those same readers will look for a vendor, like Rockler, that has those special motion features they learned to value.

More and more, we see technology that brings sensory data to our digital experiences. Marketers who utilize those capabilities quickly and well will have a significant advantage over their competitors.

Keep in mind, like Rockler does, that customers want to leave a store with more than just a product. They want experience and information too.

Want more content shout-outs? Check out our posts on REI and ATG Stores.

Cover image via Motorcycles, Planes and Revolution.

About Charity Stebbins

Charity is a Content Strategist at Conductor, the leading enterprise SEO technology platform. She is a monthly contributor at Econsultancy's internet marketing blog.

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