A regional chain bids to boost national web sales with a 125th anniversary promotion

March 8, 2013 04:37 PM

E-commerce sales so far this year are up 80% over the same period a year ago for retail chain Belk Inc., even though the retailer has yet to launch its first big marketing campaign for 2013, says Jon Pollack, executive vice president of sales promotion, marketing and e-commerce.

But he’s expecting online customer traffic and sales to really pick up starting this Sunday, when the family-owned Belk launches its 125th anniversary promotion across web, mobile and social network channels. The retailer, which started selling to customers in Monroe, NC, in 1888, and is No. 221 in the Internet Retailer Top 500, will give out prizes ranging from “romantic trips and lavish jewelry to sweet fragrances and stylish wardrobes” every day from March 10 through July 12, some 200,000 prizes in all over the 125-day stretch.

Belk’s “125 Days of Prizes” campaign, developed with marketing services firm ePrize, will run with coordinated images and text across a dedicated web site at, a mobile-optimized site and the retailer’s Facebook page. For a chain based in Charlotte, NC, with 301 stores across 16 southern states, the promotion is designed to build national online traffic and sales as well as business for its bricks-and-mortar stores, Pollack says.

“We’ll be looking at significant traffic and Facebook acquisitions, or Likes,” as well as a boost in web sales to shoppers throughout the United States, he says.

Belk has run several other multichannel promotions with ePrize over the past few years, though none has been nearly as large as the 125th anniversary campaign, Pollack says. Still, they’ve produced significant customer traffic, he adds.

Contributing to the retailer’s 80% rise so far this year in web sales, for example, is spillover from a promotion Belk ran with ePrize last fall for its annual Belk Bowl college football game, Pollack says. In that promotion, which ran August through November, consumers logging onto Belk’s Facebook page could earn a sweepstakes entry by voting for their favorite college team among the 24 schools in the Big East and Atlantic Coast Conference collegiate football conferences. Sweepstakes winners received a free ticket to the Dec. 27 bowl game (when the University of Cincinnati beat Duke University 48-34) and teams voted among the most popular won donations to their athletic programs. With college football team loyalties spread throughout the country, the promotion elicited a 160% increase in Facebook Likes from consumers across the U.S., Pollack says.

With the 125th anniversary promotion designed to get national exposure through Internet search and other forms of marketing, and with consumers able to enter the sweepstakes daily via the promotion’s web site, mobile site or Facebook page, Pollack is expecting to garner another large increase in loyal fans and customers to further boost its presence as a nationwide retailer.

“We think of Belk as an omnichannel retailer across 16 states, and a pure-play web retailer across the other 34,” Pollack says. “We think we have opportunities across the country.”

Consumers can earn additional sweepstakes entries on any day by taking steps such as loading photos or referring friends via the  web site, Facebook page or mobile site. The value of individual prizes will range from $500 to $6,500 each from brands including Calvin Klein, Karen Kane and KitchenAid.

EPrize charges its clients for the cost of creating promotional content. Project costs vary based on a project’s size, but range from $10,000 to $12,000 on the low end to $50,000 to $100,000 or more for the largest projects, according to Matt Kates, ePrize’s vice president of strategic services. He adds that most client retailers range from those with $50 million to $100 million in annual sales, though some have sales of as low as $10 million.

Belk's Ravi Kantamneni, solutions delivery manager, and David Maillet, senior systems architect, will speak on growth strategies and e-commerce technology at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exibition 2013 in a session entitled "Supporting growth: The technology and management challenges."






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