As the lines between offline and online are blurring, store retailers and online businesses are both redefining the way they function to engage customers and create more exciting experiences. The amalgamation of online and offline marketing strategies makes purchasing more rewarding and easier for the customer.
Listed below are 5 ways online and offline customer experiences are coming together:
Brick and mortar stores have invested in creating better store experiences. For instance, hypermarket like Walmart, Carrefour or Union coop has combined the online and offline experiences of customers. You can order a product and check if it is available at a store near you for pickup, even if it isn’t, you can still order, and have it shipped to your local store, ready to be picked up, free of cost.
Similarly, online retailers are also toying with the idea of opening up physical stores at select locations for their customers who prefer to pick the products themselves. In January 2018, Amazon opened its first cashier-less grocery store, Amazon Go in Seattle. You can simply waltz into the shop with Amazon app on your phone, pick up items and walk out without worrying about checking out or paying up. You would be billed via your Amazon account.
A cool idea that saves your time standing in a queue and lets you handpick your grocery items.
Data harvesting to understand the customer journey
Nowadays companies are gathering data from all possible sources to gain insights into their customer base. The more customer data you have, the better you can analyze and research how offline and online customer journeys are correlated. The data you can harvest comes from your web traffic (session duration, most visited pages, visitor acquisition, keyword rankings, etc.), social media analytics email surveys and analytics, retail foot-fall (store visits), online or offline queries, coupons or vouchers used, time spent on mobile app and much more.
Warby Parker – a digital-first – eyewear frames brand has opened numerous brick and mortar stores in an era where retail is struggling to stand on its feet. Warby Parker gathers information on where their customers are, where they work or travel, population density, number of eyeglass customers and pre-existing customers in an area before deciding on their store locations.
Reviewing data points of customer behavior, tracking user (anonymous) movement from cell carriers and proprietary statistical algorithms assist the brand to figure out a lot about the best place and people to target with the best strategy.
Consistent and Simplified Customer Experiences
‘Channel-less’ CX is the holy grail for delightful customer experience. Most marketers agree to integrate offline and online channels closely to provide a consistent experience across all touchpoints. A customer today is flipping through various channels before taking that final call of making a purchase, so he expects his experience to be cohesive and seamless. Marketers are focusing on creating the same brand story across all channels along with consistency in brand message aesthetics like logo and color palette and brand language. The brands are ensuring they relay a consistent message to its consumer base who can experience the same brand persona on every platform.
Another important factor is ‘simplicity’ with which a customer can use a product or a service. For instance, Starbucks was the first store to offer free Wi-fi to its customers. They also launched mobile payments way back in 2009, and the users could click and collect their coffee via an app, without having to wait in the queue, thus making Starbucks a multichannel brand.
Technology is being roped in for creating an engaging and lasting online or offline shopping experience. A concoction of data-driven insight, human initiative and empathy, and technology can help create magical moments for customers.
The use of in-store beacons can help you alert about discounts and coupons and locate items in-store. Use of AR and VR in both online and offline stores can display a 3D image of the product before you buy it. There are many apps both for online and brick and mortar stores that can help a customer track inventory in a store to check if an item they need is available.
Merchants have data of their loyal customers on their web and mobile channels that help offer recommendations and personalized web pages based on insights they gather about their preferences and history.
Retail stores are making shopping experiences more customized for their visitors, where apps or beacons can make product recommendations based on a customer’s history. For example, John Lewis loyalty card gives their staff a peek into their customers’ preferences, which helps them make personalized recommendations.
Combining online and offline experiences are the best way to engage customers and connect with them wherever you can. Integrating these experiences together helps create a complete picture of a customer journey and more importantly adds value, simplicity, and uniqueness to their interactions.
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