Leveraging the Rise of Digital Marketing to Drive Post-Pandemic In-Store Traffic
The pandemic fast-tracked the growth of e-commerce on an exponential level. In 2020, e-commerce accounted for over 21 percent of retail sales — a monumental jump from the 15.8 percent of retail that it accounted for the year prior. There’s no doubt that e-commerce will continue to be an important part of the consumer journey, but as restrictions from the pandemic continue to lift and as more people get vaccinated, brands need to be ready for in-store retail again as well.
The question that brands need to be asking themselves is, “How can I connect my online and in-store experiences in a way that complements the exponential growth of e-commerce over the past year?”
Taking Advantage of Strengthened Digital Infrastructures
During the pandemic, brands were forced to develop and advance digital infrastructures that allowed them to stay afloat and continue to service their customers. Now that things are opening back up, that infrastructure is one that will still provide immense value — but in ways that can complement in-store experiences and encourage shoppers to visit their stores.
Bridging the divide between digital marketing and brick-and-mortar has been a conversation within the retail industry for several years now. With that said, the digital experience has evolved to a point where that bridge can be more easily constructed. There are many ways that this can be achieved. Retailers can implement mobile customization and checkout capabilities into the in-store experience, they can leverage influencer livestreams to promote in-store deals, and more. Some of the best ways to take advantage of the digital surge are through online/in-store digital coupons and card-linked offers.
Rewarding Customers With Coupons and Card-Linked Offers
The key to creating in-store traffic is to tap into the aspects of e-commerce that drive consumer behavior online. One of the biggest influences for online shoppers is the ability to be rewarded. Tapping into those rewarding experiences can help transition people from interacting with a brand online to traveling in-store and getting rewarded for doing so.
With more people shopping online, digital coupons surpassed traditional physical coupons for the first time ever during the pandemic. As retail continues to open back up, brands need to take advantage of this shift. Digital coupons can be used not only to drive e-commerce sales, but also to incentivize people to come in-store and use digital or mobile coupons at the checkout counter.
Card-linked offers (CLOs) provide retailers with another way to reward consumers for coming in-store. Recent studies show that CLOs in mobile wallets are the best new technology that can bolster online-to-offline programs across the board. By partnering with fintech companies, retailers can incentivize their customers through online opt-in CLOs that then give the consumer a reason to visit the store and cash out on the offer at hand. This growth in mobile wallet adoption not only makes the entire customer journey that much more seamless, but also provides brands with similar levels of reporting and tracking that were once only available for e-commerce transactions.
As we look forward to a future beyond the pandemic, the e-commerce infrastructure that retailers leveraged for short-term survival will ultimately deliver long-term benefits. With new advancements in e-commerce and mobile, retailers will be able to bridge the divide between online and in-store — delivering rewarding experiences that are proven to drive conversions and build long-term loyalty.
Erin Warren is the general manager of Rakuten In-Store Network, a company allowing users to get cash back any time they shop.