Online Vs Offline: How Retailers can Bridge the Gap and Deliver the Best Experiences to Shoppers

Online Vs Offline: How Retailers can Bridge the Gap and Deliver the Best Experiences to Shoppers

Gone are the days when physical retail stores used to have exclusive control in the consumer world. Customers who once relied exclusively on retail outlets now have the option of purchasing products online.

Ecommerce has gifted retailers an abundance of data on consumers’ visiting, browsing, and purchasing behaviour, however physical stores remain in a black hole. Retailers have typically had little access to robust, gather information on in-store customers behaviour.

Read here for more information on the power of data and how retailers can benefit from this valuable resource and thrive through ecommerce channels.

Physical stores are challenging to set up compared to an online store – hence why we have seen a pattern over the past few years of retailers constantly re-evaluating where their brick-and-mortar shops fit in a market where online continues to outperform. Today, many forward-thinking retailers are now integrating their online and offline propositions to meet the changing demands of consumers and better position themselves to use everything they know about a single consumer to deliver a highly personalised experience.

Fulfilment of online orders has been one of the quiet revolutions of the last year. By 2022, e-retail revenues will grow to $6.54 trillion, up from $3.53 trillion in 2019.

The digital revolution gave modern consumers access to unparalleled convenience and tailored engagements that connect them to the products and services they need, anytime and anywhere.

Physical stores are the most direct way for an individual to engage with a brand, their products, and their culture. Ensuring that the connection between physical and digital interactions is being properly tracked and understood, is key in the creation of the new and exciting ways that brands are ensuring they can provide a connected online/offline tailored and bespoke experience.

By bridging the online/offline gap, retailers can better target their marketing and brand building efforts across multiple consumer touchpoints to better meet the demand for the modern customer experience.


Omnichannel is the path forward

 In the wake of increased online traffic and store closure trends over the years, many traditional retailers are now prioritising omnichannel retailing and leveraging in-store analytics technologies to track, measure and analyse customers’ activities in stores.

82% of customers consult their smartphone when making a purchase in a brick-and-mortar store. This fact alone provides a glimpse into the importance of omnichannel marketing & why brands need to make sure each of their own shopping channels work instantaneously with one another.

Omnichannel approaches and technology enables organisations to optimise channels to the full potential and puts the customer at the centre of the strategy to drive growth, as well as understanding their customers’ journey, behaviour and buying patterns to provide them with a truly personalised experience.

Today, the modern consumer is constantly shifting across buying channels, which means organisations that adapt to this can improve their user experience and drive better relationships with their audience across various points of contact. This experience is consistent and unified for every journey the consumer chooses to take.

As people change their behaviours, retailers, marketers, salespeople, and customer support reps will need to react fast, as consumers are likely to have multiple touchpoints with a retailer and expect their journey between each touchpoint or channel should be seamless. This means retailers will need to pursue one holistic approach – an omnichannel experience that consumers can willingly use anytime and anywhere.

Read our guide to learn more.

At Data Clarity, we have developed ClarityOmnivue to specifically solve the challenges businesses face trying to mine multiple disparate data sources to deliver one 360-degree view of customers and business key performance indicators. ClarityOmnivue transforms disparate data into a unified data solution that enables more informed business decisions.

To read more on how ClarityOmnivue can be of benefit to your business, click here.

Depending on your business size and brand, you may want to leverage a variety of digital and physical marketing channels, including:

  • Ads optimised on mobile, especially for Pay-Per-Click and social media advertising.
  • Remarketing ads for both mobile and desktop devices.
  • Inbound marketing options such as SEO blogs on content relevant to your brand.
  • Email marketing such as drip campaigns to prospects and customers.
  • Out-of-home advertising such as billboards, bulletins, and bus shelters.
  • TV ads or YouTube pre-roll ads.
  • Point-of-Sale displays in physical stores.

Making practical use of customer data enables brands to instantly connect with customers using hyper personalised messages on the right channel, at the right time. At the same time, leading omnichannel brands will use the opportunity to invite customers into store for browsing.


Tailored Experiences from Data

The key to achieving retail success is to be more data centric. Successful online retailers utilise consumer data to provide tailored online shopping experiences for individuals, accurately predicting needs and wants right in front of your eyes to suggested purchases and enhancements that collected data says will likely result in a purchase. This same approach can be taken for in store experiences, utilising collected data from both online and in-store. Retailers want to better understand what drives customers to visit their stores and make purchases, as well as the revenue their marketing drives to stores.

Big Data enables companies to generate a 360-degree view of their customers. It is transforming marketing and retail sales in ways that were not achievable just a few years ago. It has changed the way these teams engage with customers by allowing businesses to make smarter decisions, as a result, this helps to increase profits and customer satisfaction.

Those who are already using a data strategy to find new ways to engage with customers, new opportunities for efficiency, stay ahead of the trend curse, and maximise the cost-effectiveness of their marketing efforts will have a better basis on which to make important business decisions based on the data generated.

However, to attain real value out of data analytics, retailers need to consider aggregating their data across disparate systems into a single, unified view throughout the organisation. Once in place, retailers will gain true insights which will help plan customer retention strategies, including personalised offers, pricing, and stock decisions.

To read more about how big data benefits businesses, click here.


Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs are an often-overlooked aspect of the customer experience, although, they can be vital in building relationships and loyalty with customers. Unless a shopper purchases with a loyalty card in a physical store, transactions are generally anonymous. Providing incentives for individuals to not only visit stores but to be more active is one way that retailers are successfully interacting with customers both online and in-store.

Since 2020,  95% of consumers want to engage with their loyalty program using emerging technology like chatbots, AI, VR, and smart devices.

Today, retailers have been investing in ways to retain customers and provide loyalty from discounts to partnerships with third party players. Overall, 50% of consumers say their primary reason for joining a loyalty program is to earn rewards on everyday purchases, creating the expectation that brand loyalty comes with rewards.

As a result, retailers will roll out more customer loyalty programs, including ‘VIP members clubs’ – who spend a certain amount each year. As well as more partnerships between retailers and other non-retail companies will be incorporated into reward programs.


Social Media

The widespread use of social media and the rise of new platforms over the years have also influenced retail as social media influencers have led a shift in consumer behaviour, as they review and share products with likeminded individuals.

Retailers have already widely adopted and, to an extent, understand the value of a well thought out social media strategy. However, there are multiple layers that need to be considered alongside simply having an omnichannel ‘always on’ social approach that can bridge the offline/online gap.

These layers include:

  • Listening to trends and known customer voices to influence product and content strategies both in-store and online.
  • Recognising and curating user-generated content
  • Facilitating product information requests and purchasing within social platforms
  • Smart bespoke remarketing and retargeting via social based on specific offline and online interactions


Unique Experiences within Physical Stores

The purpose of brick-and-mortar retailing will shift from transactional to primarily focusing on service and experience, as either showrooms, marketing platforms, loyalty building environments and brand experiences.

The huge advantage that comes with the in-store shopping experience is that of being able to see and interact with a product before you buy. Taking this hugely important element of the shopping experience and coupling it with a unique and importantly ‘fun’ experience is one of the key ways a brand can turn a standard in-store visit to a must-see experience.

Creating an immersive, unique, and exciting experience for shoppers is one such way to guarantee conversation and footfall. Retail stores that survive can move towards this experiential approach. For example, instead of endless aisles of products, physical stores can become more like showrooms that allow shoppers to touch and feel the products and have them delivered straight from the warehouse.


To Round Up

Physical stores are going through a different but corresponding evolution. Brick-and-mortar retailers are no longer simply a channel for the distribution of products, and no longer act as the final point in the purchase funnel.

All these approaches are looking to close the gap that is the disparate experience between online and offline, as well as to take steps to create a goal of a blended experience. Although, the underlying constant that can connect the two is utilising data and technology in order to create rich, informative in-store experiences.

This approach that has worked well online needs to be widely adopted by traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to capitalise on all huge amounts of data points around customer behaviour that can be collected both in-store and online. This will then allow retailers to truly be customer focused by becoming data-driven organisations that truly understand the customer experience and consumer journeys.

Retailers are constantly looking for the competitive edge and better ways to reach customers, more efficient customer journeys and opportunities to proactively meet customer needs.

At Data Clarity, we are on top of the challenges and opportunities this presents for retailers. We conduct data audits for organisations to highlight the current capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.

To discover how you can do more as a business, contact us today.

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