In today’s retail environment, consumers expect to engage with retailers and brands in any environment, online and in physical stores, whenever it’s convenient for them.
Most consumers (68%) visit a website or an app before buying an item, according to Eagle Eye’s Digital Imperative report. Given the fact that consumers are increasingly using different channels to facilitate their shopping journeys, why are many retail business strategies based on engaging customers either online or offline, instead of both?
This is in spite of the fact that the convergence of e-commerce, digital marketing and physical stores can work to any business’s advantage — including yours.
Customers who engage with businesses both online and off are the best kind. They spend 4% more each time they’re in a physical store and 10% more when shopping online. The bottom line is that targeting these customers should be central to any businesses’ sales growth strategy.
How can you reach and retain these most valuable customers? By marketing to them “in the now”. This means using timely, relevant and data-driven offers to increase store visits and sales. Here are three ways you can apply this strategy to boost traffic and grow sales.
Use your digital presence to help consumers find your physical locations
The first step to marketing in the now is ensuring key information about your physical stores is easily locatable online and on social media. This may sound rudimentary, but many businesses operate with incorrect or outdated information posted online. If a customer is searching for your business online, make sure the addresses and opening times of your stores are accurate. Clearly identify any store locations that offer specific services, such as the ability for customers to order ahead or return items they’ve purchased online. With those basics sorted so your target customers can locate your business in the digital world, you’ll be ready to start driving foot traffic to your locations.
Discover the power of digital coupons
Digital coupons are very effective at driving physical location traffic. That’s because they can be highly location and context based. If a customer is close to one of your stores, it is possible to send an immediate offer to their phone with a message that invites them to “click here to download this offer to redeem instore or online,” which is more likely to result in a sales conversion. If customers choose the instore option, they would receive a personalized digital coupon to present at checkout. Regardless of whether the coupon is redeemed instore or online, you’ll know who responded to the offer and be able to prove the ROI on that promotional marketing spend.
One of the biggest benefits of engaging customers with digital coupons is also a key benefit of marketing in the now — that is the capability to react to consumers fast and tweak an offer in real time. A consumer who has opened an email for an instore coupon but hasn’t redeemed it can be re-targeted time and again with a follow-up email or another, more relevant or attractive offer.
Let store visits boost digital interactions with customers…and vice versa
Encouraging more customers coming into your locations means you can also make the brick-and-mortar store’s advantages over ecommerce work for you. Leverage try-before-you-buy ”sensory selection” and the promise of instant gratification to influence purchase decisions by enabling customers to see, feel and touch things such as the fabric of a shirt or the smell of a new fragrance. Many consumers still choose to do their grocery shopping in-store, especially for fresh or high-value purchases, like fruit or consumer electronics, for this reason.
Then there’s the important element of human interaction instore to consider. In higher touch purchases customers appreciate a knowledgeable salesclerk or a store manager answering their questions or showing them the features of a smartphone or a washing machine on the spot. These are capabilities that ecommerce can’t trump, but that can be accessed by pre-arranging or incentivizing such services online. A proactive retailer could offer online customers access to a personal shopper if they visit the store or an invitation to a special event (i.e., store anniversary celebration or release of limited-edition merchandise).
For all of these reasons, majority (69%) of consumers still prefer to make a purchase instore, according to the Digital Imperative research. Retailers can capitalize on the enduring popularity and practicality of the store’s traditional role to improve the shopping journey by adding a “digital layer” that allows continued digital connection with customers while they are shopping in the store – not just before or after. With the right marketing platform, a robust mobile app and a secure, public Wi-Fi connection instore, retailers can help consumers find items or offer a timely incentive to encourage higher spending and repeat business.
As a strategy, marketing in the now calls for businesses to harness a combination of ecommerce efficiency, the immediacy of brick-and-mortar stores and the power of digital marketing technology to link the two. Together, they offer the key to improving the shopping journey, satisfying customers who’ll be the most valuable over the long haul and so help ensure a retailer’s profitability.
Anthony Stevenson is the International New Business Director at Eagle Eye, a leading SaaS technology company that enables businesses to create real-time connections with their customers through digital and mobile promotion solutions. With over 10 years’ experience within the retail, grocery, food & beverage, convenience and hospitality industries, Anthony works closely with brands to create more effective marketing strategies: merging physical and digital programs to connect customer data across channels, personalize communications for deeper loyalty, and create more successful promotions to drive revenue growth.
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