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In a challenging market environment it’s a good idea to have a plan, especially when that plan is bold and forward-thinking.

It turns out that lastminute.com has such a plan, for the online pureplay is moving into the seemingly perilous world of offline retailing.

Travolution’s Kevin May reports that the company is extending its Good Stuff programme into the high street, with the imminent launch of a store in Covent Garden, followed by two more in Manchester and Birmingham.

Details have yet to be announced but May reports that the stores “will not be traditional travel agencies”. I’ve put a call out for comment but details remain sketchy at present.

So what's it going to look like? I anticipate a focus on experiential marketing, with transactional kiosks, lots video / screens / interactivity, and the sweet smell of Ambre Solaire drifting through the aircon.

Lastminute is known for its innovative approach, which is increasingly straddling non-web channels. The firm recently won an Econsultancy Innovation Award in the multichannel marketing category for its ‘fonefood’ mobile app.

Despite the issues relating to a fading high street retail environment it is well-known that multichannel operators achieve the highest customer satisfaction scores, so the move could be a positive one, broadening lastminute’s reach and improving loyalty. 

Additionally the timing is impressive, since commercial rents are falling due to the market climate. Lush founder Mark Constantine believes that one in five London shops will close in 2009

I wonder if we’ll see more offline / multichannel moves by other pureplay e-tailers in 2009?

Chris Lake

Published 20 February, 2009 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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