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Online retailer uses unexpected marketing tactic

Online retailer uses unexpected marketing tactic

Relay Foods may be an online retailer, but its main marketing campaign isn’t a digital one.

“Incredibly, we spend the vast majority of our marketing dollars on a team of about 40 people that go door to door and evangelize Relay — so the most offline marketing campaign that you can have, just like the sales people from the 50s,” said co-founder and president Arnie Katz during an Expo East workshop in Baltimore on Thursday.

“We found that works the best. There’s something about our brand that is very nostalgic.”

Danielle Gould, Food + Tech Connect; Aihui Ong, Love With Food; Chad Arnold,  Door-to-Door Organics; Arnie Katz, Relay Foods.
Danielle Gould, Food + Tech Connect; Aihui Ong, Love With Food; Chad Arnold, Door-to-Door Organics; Arnie Katz, Relay Foods.

Katz went as far to say that customers are looking for the “milkman” experience with his company.

While a man attending the panel commented that this is an odd pairing — an e-commerce company with in-person customer recruitment — the more I think about it, the more the model doesn’t seem that strange.

Relay Foods is a premium retailer after all, one that has local, organic and specialty products. The same customers that are attracted to these types of foods also like to feel connected to the companies they buy from. What better way to connect with them than face to face?

In fact, the importance of personal connections came up again when a woman from the audience complimented panelist Chad Arnold, president and CEO of e-commerce retailer Door-to-Door Organics.

The woman said that she loves how friendly the customer service people are on the phone when she calls about an order.

Retailers of all types — brick-and-mortar included — should take note of the way these small online retailers are combining convenience with a personal, friendly touch.

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