4 Tips for Integrating the Online and Offline Shopping Experiences
We've come a long way from relying on physical mail advertisements to catch a whiff of new products without entering a store. With in-store purchases continuing to wane, retailers are experiencing another pivotal shift in purchasing trends: the rise of m-commerce.
This year, smartphone browsing made up more than half of all online traffic on Thanksgiving Day. That traffic drove a 9.5 percent increase in overall online sales on Black Friday. Of those, 27.9 percent occurred on mobile devices, up 28.2 percent from 2013.
Adapting to a Mobile-First World
From a consumer's perspective, the reasons for this shift are obvious. Why wait in long lines when you could simply click "Buy" on the device in your hand? Consumers are spending less time browsing in stores and more time determining the best way to save time and money.
Here are a few other factors fueling the growth of m-commerce:
- Users can now access 4G or LTE internet anytime, anywhere. This convenient access to fast internet connectivity makes mobile shopping painless.
- More retailers are devoting resources to mobile. Brands are realizing the value of funding native apps that offer comprehensive, convenient mobile shopping. Retailers without a native app or a responsive site risk losing customers.
- Agencies and brands have better methods for testing their mobile sites and apps. By researching and directly addressing customers’ needs, retailers are transforming one-time transactions into brand loyalty.
- New technologies are simplifying e-commerce. Apple Pay and iBeacons make m-commerce even simpler, and they're symbolic of a broader change that will likely become the norm in brick-and-mortar stores.
Creating the Ultimate In-Store/Online Experience
The changing e-commerce landscape presents lucrative opportunities for retailers. However, don't close up shop and rely solely on online platforms. Brick-and-mortar locations still play a pivotal role in the online shopping experience.
Retailers need to envision what an integrated in-store experience looks like, whether that's creating in-store push notifications, using beacons to drive messaging to shoppers or offering special deals for shoppers on your app.
Here are a few ways to create a seamless experience between in-store and mobile shopping:
1. Think of physical locations, websites and apps as pieces of the same puzzle. Some users search for deals or browse products online before buying them in-store. Integrating all three components gives your customers options and keeps them from turning to a competitor for a specific need.
2. Make sure your customers can browse anywhere. While physical stores are still useful for allowing users to interact with a product, having a seamless mobile presence is equally, if not more, important. Create a responsive site that works on all screens, and optimize it for convenient use.
3. Build a native app to enhance the buying experience. Focus on integrating your brand into a user's everyday life by creating a native app that offers personalized features, allows users to connect the experience with social networking, and facilitates comprehensive and convenient shopping. Being at your customers’ fingertips is key to driving repeat purchases.
4. Use online data to learn about your customers. Study the locations, ages, genders and styles of your customers. Save and revisit this information to target and customize offers. In addition, take advantage of this personalized information for emails, push notifications and more.
Consumers aren't choosing their favorite stores based on proximity. They're drawn to the best experiences that offer exclusive deals, fast browsing and simple checkout. Don't overlook these facts. Now is the time to dedicate your talent and resources to building the best online and mobile experience possible so you can charge ahead in 2015.