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4 Ways Marketers Can Capitalize on Converging Offline & Online Channels

Lindsay Tjepkema
Lindsay Tjepkema , Marketing Director, Americas , Emarsys

The migration from traditional brick-and-mortar transactions, to the ease of online shopping, is hard to ignore. By blending the traditional offline shopping experience with this new online one, e-commerce retailers can win big. The line has been blurred. Retail marketers must work to merge online and offline channels. In this article, we’ll share four essential ways to capitalize on this.

Teens looking at mobile phone model in front of shop

In this article, we’ll share four ways to do so:

1. Offer Seamless Branding

Omnichannel retailers are being pushed by consumers to deliver a compelling and seamless experience across all channels. Marketers need to focus on brand and experiential consistency. For example, if the retailer has a heavy emphasis on excellence in customer service (see: Nordstrom), that retailer must ensure parity throughout all channels.

Brand image is a compilation of all a consumer’s interactions with the brand. A seamless brand experience, for both the online and offline retail market, has a positive impact on brand image, and ensures that customers and potential customers recognize and remember that brand no matter what. Using various methods to tie marketing and branding together across all channels can help create that consistency, keeping that retailer’s brand top-of-mind. Encouraging cross-platform participation can impact that seamless continuity.

2. Utilize Online Channels to Drive Offline Purchases

More than 60% of consumers who make in-store purchases say that they do so in order to have the product immediately. Play to the trend of instant gratification by driving offline action while users are online shopping; “Want it NOW? This item is in stock at a store X miles from you”. This alleviates the delay of instant gratification incurred by shipping times.

In fact, a whopping 64% of consumers say that they are deterred from shopping online due to shipping costs. They are, in fact, the number one reason for online shopping cart abandonment. Marketers must be on the defensive here. Offering free shipping is not always the right play, which means the e-commerce retailer has to incur that cost. Periodic free shipping promotions are wise incentives, but driving consumers who are prone to abandoning carts due to shipping fees to purchase in-store could also prove to be an effective strategy.

3. Apply Offline Channels to Drive Online Purchases

Conversely, marketers should use in-store advertising to drive online purchases. Capitalize on this opportunity to up-sell. For example, let’s say a consumer is standing in an aisle trying to select a pair of the uber-popular Stance Socks. The marketer could display a sign that reads, “Can’t find exactly what you’re looking for? Check out our website for many more great Stance collections”. This is an example of excellent customer service, paired with a self-serving up-sell opportunity.

Nearly 40% of purchases are made through a combination of online and in-store activity. Marketers should make it easier for consumers by implementing a strategy that drives in-store users to visit the retailer’s online store, and vice versa.

4. Remember: Retail Apps Are On the Rise for a Reason

Smartphones have leapt ahead as the driving force behind retail change. Research by eMarketer shows that the number of U.S. mobile shoppers has soared from a meager 23 million in 2014, to over 146 million in 2016. Smartphone shopping satisfaction has been increasing year-on-year, with 2016’s satisfaction rate at 73%. Smart e-commerce retailers have capitalized on the move to mobile by incorporating mobile applications into their online strategy. 

Retailers like Sephora have built successful applications that drive both online and offline sales. The app has an interactive feature allowing users to learn new makeup application techniques, and the tutorials feature selfies uploaded by users direct from their smartphones. This feature enables users to reproduce the results that can be achieved with Sephora’s in-store makeovers. It also harbors a beacon feature that alerts smartphone users when they are in close proximity to a Sephora store. This again keeps the brand top-of-mind for consumers, and drives them to visit the brick-and-mortar store.

Final Thoughts

Omnichannel shopping is on the rise. According to a report by UPS, it has grown to 38% in 2016. There remains massive opportunity for e-commerce marketers to capitalize on this convergence of channels.

Interested in reading more about how retail marketers can merge online and offline marketing? Download our whitepaper, Applying Omnichannel Marketing to the Customer Journey.

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