Blending Online, Offline Marketing Strategies to Improve the In-Store Experience
The traditional thinking has been to look at in-store success to determine an e-commerce and m-commerce strategy. However, by evaluating successful e-commerce and m-commerce strategies, brick-and-mortar retailers can create a seamless shopping experience and help meet consumers’ ever-heightening expectations.
Brick-and-mortar stores are evolving as consumers expect a more compelling and personalized customer experience. While online and offline shoppers were once treated as two distinct segments, today they're one-in-the-same. Therefore, retailers need to blend strategies in order to provide a seamless shopping experience. Some online-only retailers, such as eyeglass seller Warby Parker, have even ventured into brick-and-mortar territory armed with the knowledge that created their e-commerce success.
However, creating a seamless cross-channel experience is much easier said than done. It requires a holistic approach where data is shared across all channels, regardless of which one is being used by the shopper. And while that may not sound too difficult in theory, actually pulling it off well is incredibly challenging.
Move Mobile Beyond M-Commerce
Mobile is gradually being incorporated into every part of the shopping experience. Consumers today use their phones to research products and make purchases, both online and in-store. In fact, 82 percent of smartphone users reportedly rely on mobile to help them make purchasing decisions while in-store.
With mobile becoming an important part of the in-store shopping experience, retailers are seeing great value from incorporating it as part of their brick-and-mortar strategy. At a high level, retailers can incorporate mobile by integrating online and in-app data with their brick-and-mortar point-of-sale system. Inventory levels, pricing and customer data is integrated across all channels so shoppers can move seamlessly from one channel to another.
For example, if a consumer is using your brand's mobile app and has added certain items to their cart or wish list, send them a push notification while in-store, alerting them to any discounts or promotions on items of interest.
Personalize the Experience
Brick-and-mortar stores can capture more sales than ever before by creating a personalized customer experience. Retail stores can use information they’ve collected online — e.g., a customer’s first name and favorite products — to deliver relevant promotions to the shopper.
One way retailers are customizing the promotions they send is through beacon technology, which recognizes when a customer is nearby and can send them personalized promotions or information. For example, if a customer is in your store — or even walking nearby — you can send them a text, email alert or push notification inviting them to shop, potentially even offering a coupon.
However, simply having beacons in your stores isn’t going to help. Like mobile, the value comes when you integrate online and offline data. From there, you’re able to look at past interactions with a shopper and send them a personalized and relevant promotion directly to their phone.
Neiman Marcus is one retailer in particular that has embraced beacon technology, specifically to promote in-store events. Beacon-triggered push notifications inform shoppers about trunk shows, guest designers, book signings and other special in-store events. By making the customer feel appreciated and unique, retailers can increase loyalty and the likelihood of making a sale.
Despite the rapid growth of e-commerce, physical stores play a critical role in a retailer’s omnichannel strategy. For customers who are eager to receive products they’ve purchased online and don’t want to wait or pay for shipping, brick-and-mortar stores can support click-and-collect fulfillment options.
Major retailers such as Nordstrom, Macy’s, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and others have already implemented buy online, pick up in-store programs. As consumers look for the most convenient and efficient way to get their shopping done, buying online and picking up in-store is one option retailers can provide to improve the customer experience.
In addition to increasing convenience and customer satisfaction, click-and-collect enables retailers to potentially upsell customers once they’re browsing in-store. By offering them more fulfillment options, shoppers have the incentive to go into brick-and-mortar locations because they're saving money — and time — on delivery, thus leading to potentially more in-store sales.
Before retailers can begin to optimize their brick-and-mortar locations, they first need to understand what their customers care about and what elements of their store matter most. By using e-commerce insights and applying them to brick-and-mortar retail settings, retailers can more effectively drive in-store sales.
Bobbi Leach is the CEO of FuturePay, an e-commerce payment solution for the omnichannel shopper.
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