Bringing online and offline customer experiences together

It’s not surprising that Adobe Symposium had a strong focus on digital and online, but it was really interesting to hear so many references to physical experiences. One example put forward was booking a holiday. Clearly the booking process can be complicated and this is managed way more effectively online, but the end result is a physical, ‘real-life’ experience. A holiday. Eventually, customers pop out into the physical world, either to complete their purchase process or to consume a ‘product’ whether it’s a holiday, car, clothes or restaurant meal.

People are often surprised to hear that in Australia, 93.5% of retail transactions happen in-store. Meaning only 6.5% of transactions are happening online. And this is in line with global trends where 92.7% of retail transactions are in-store.  This represents a huge opportunity for retailers who implement smart ways to attract, engage and help customers. At the end of the day, this means higher sales.   And of course, I would recommend digital signage and interactive digital media such as digital concierge, product finders, catalogues, product configurators and self/ assisted ordering as important tools to support this.

During my presentation at Adobe Symposium, I outlined four key trends shaping retail.

  • Digital to physical connect
  • Personalisation
  • Visualisation
  • Analytics / AI

It’s not a competition between online and physical. Both have their place. Smart retailers are mapping the whole customer journey, from research to purchase, which will have both online and physical components. By doing customer journey mapping you can clearly identify all the points of influence and then choose the most relevant tools and channels. Some points of influence will be online and some will be physical, eg, a customer in transit, in a shopping mall, at an event or in a store.

It was really interesting listening to Coke presenting in the keynote session. They talked about their traditional marketing model, which was centred on reach and frequency. In other words, a mass marketing approach. Now they are focussing on personalisation – defining and understanding more granular segments then carefully targeting product offerings and messaging.

But delivering engaging and personalised experiences relies on using data and inferring insights.  From an Engagis perspective, we deliver tailored messaging and promotions in a physical space, showroom or retail store using a range of inputs such as gender, age, geographic location, weather, time of day, events and so on. We’ve proven that this approach increases sales.

Visual content not only creates an emotional connection with customers, it helps them make more informed decisions. For example, a car configurator lets customers design their own car, select their preferred set of accessories, see it rendered in life-like 3D, then download an instant quote. Magic mirrors can show customers how they look in a whole range of clothing options, without having to try them on. Bringing tools like this into a physical environment where they complement the role of the salesperson is very powerful. We regularly prove a digitally enabled salesperson delivers greater results.

While online is powerful for education and shortlisting alternatives, I would encourage retailers to consider the whole customer journey because an important part of the journey takes place in a physical environment – and this represents a significant opportunity for influencing and helping customers.

I like to think of the customer journey as a bridge being held up by two supports – at one end you have online and the other end you have physical.  Without both supports in place, the customer can’t complete their journey.

Watch my presentation by clicking the image below: