The online offline debate has seen numerous headlines over the past decade – the 'death of the high street' proclaimed as a foregone conclusion by many.
However, as a new report 'Retail Innovations' published by The Future Foundation shows, the battle for supremacy is being fought on the customer's terms; opening up innovation across both channels that bring digital and analogue ever closer together. Here are my top tips for merging the online and offline customer experience:
1. Create a unique experience that’s relevant to the customer’s needs and demands attention
Over 43% of the GB population claim to go shopping on the high street or in a shopping centre at least once a week, whilst only 29% claim the same frequency of shopping online. Consumers continue to choose the channel that’s convenient to them this is causing disruption in both the digital and bricks and mortar space. It’s never been more important to ensure that you are delivering a truly omni-channel experience across all touch points.
2. Identify consumer influencers and Superfans to engage with your followers
With 19% of Europeans claiming to be more influenced by contacts on social media than ever before (from just 10% in 2012); the reach of brands into the online space means that there is significant opportunity to collaborate with influencers and Superfans in order to build new levels of engagement.
3. Utilise new technologies
Digital technology reach into the retail space means that the role of intelligent systems such as Apple’s iBeacons are gaining growing acceptance amongst shoppers, with 1 in 5 UK consumers claiming that they would be very incentivised to visit stores more often if they could receive promotions on their smartphones in real-time whilst in store aisles.
4. Gather the data that counts
Traditional customer journeys and routes to purchase are becoming blurred in the online and offline world, with influence and decision points taking place across many channels. For retailers, it is becoming ever more important to bring data together into a single customer view to understand these interactions.
The growth of channel choice and customer touch-points means that the 3 V’s of big data (velocity, volume and variety) can become overwhelming – but ultimately the focus should be on Value. Maintaining relevancy means leveraging the data that drives value to your customer, and ultimately delivers return on investment for your business. The magpie approach to collecting all that is shiny and new is likely to bring complexity to your business and a state of data inertia.
5. Before you begin gathering, ask yourself 3 simple questions:
To successfully merge the online and offline experience, you must ultimately keep focused and relevant to your customers no matter where they choose to engage with you.