Chasing Customers Across Screens and Into the Store
Online commerce has grown by leaps and bounds every year as more and more consumers become comfortable with the online shopping process and more retailers facilitate the process by offering benefits like free, fast shipping and easy returns. However, brick-and-mortar purchases still account for over 90 percent of all retail sales, and the in-store experience often plays a significant role in brand affinity and driving sales.
The continuous blending of online and offline worlds has unquestionably influenced shopping behaviors in recent years. In fact, a December 2012 study from local discovery shopping company Wanderful found that shopping is often a combined online/offline experience: 77 percent research product information online while shopping in-store, with 62 percent of consumers completing the purchase in-store. So how can retail marketers use the consumer insights they gain from digital channels to encourage those same consumers to walk into a store?
Multiscreen may be the big buzzword among brands and the digital world, but omnichannel marketing is the trend that matters to retailers. Omnichannel marketing not only crosses screens, it jumps off the screen into the offline realm. Omnichannel marketing is all about driving the online user into the physical store to complete or retrieve a purchase, and there are several different tactics that marketers can employ to drive real foot traffic.
Retailers like Gap are marrying their online and offline marketing programs, using pull tactics like search, social, email and display to bring users to a "bricks" page. Once on this page, visitors can print out a coupon or offer that they can then print for in-store redemption. These "in-store only" offers sometimes trump those offered for online purchases, providing further incentive to get off the laptop and into the store.
Gap has also seen great success recently with its online "reserve in-store" program, which allows online shoppers to check the availability of an item in the stores nearby and then have it pulled off the floor for them to pick up later. Initiatives like this help combat the "lazy shopper" syndrome, wherein a consumer buys online rather than risk wasting a trip to the store only to find the item they're looking for is out of stock. Forty-four percent of respondents in a June 2013 comScore survey indicated that this capability would make them more likely to choose a particular retailer. That seems like pretty strong evidence that more retailers should consider adding this service.