Friday, January 18, 2019
Written by:
Digital Boutique

How to merge the online and offline shopping experience

The rapid rise of ecommerce doesn’t mean the end of brick and mortar. Rather, we’ve seen a powerful opportunity arise – for businesses to connect their online and offline shopping experiences into a seamless omnichannel brand experience. To get you started, here are our seven steps to success.

1. Get the Strategy Right

To thrive in the omnichannel world, you need to make the most of the opportunities available.

Take the use of mobile targeting to drive in-store campaigns online. Some businesses will push out the same marketing messages to everyone and hope for the best. Others will take the time to target each audience with individual messaging – like emailing VIP customers about a new product before it's available to the general public. The latter is the kind of thinking that leads to success.

2. Inventory Matters

When merging online and offline, inventory levels are make or break. Promote an in-store offer with online ads, and the product needs to be available when shoppers arrive. Planning is key. If a product does go out of stock, let your online followers know so they don’t make a wasted trip.

3. Plan Promotions Carefully

No one wants to buy something online one day, only to find it reduced in-store the next. To build brand loyalty, keep your online customers informed about in-store offers and vice versa so they can be confident they're always getting a good deal.

4. Use Mobile to Enhance In-Store

Mobile can take the effort out of traditional shopping by pulling your online and offline experiences together.

Marks and Spencer’s 'Mobile, Pay, Go’ iPhone app feature lets customers scan products on their phone and pay using Apple Pay. No need to queue, or even go to a till.

“Digitally-enabled stores that offer a seamless customer experience are a crucial part of our transformation and our ambition to be a digital-first retailer”
Retail Operations and Property Director, Marks and Spencer

Customers are starting to expect features like these as standard. The key to winning customers is to constantly evolve – 60% of consumers say retail brands will have to keep up with new technology to improve their experiences. If you don’t? You can bet your competitors will.

5. Make Every Space Count

Successfully merging a physical store and online shop means drawing on the strengths of each space. 

Your physical store should draw in your audience with compelling shopping experiences. Brands like Nike and JD Sports are proof that this kind of in-store interactivity works. And according to Mindshare, 51% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that offer "interesting" or "different" stores.

Online, the likes of Nordstrom offer ‘Try Before You Buy’, where customers can order products to try on at home before buying – turning the customer's home into a shopping experience in its own right.

An interior shot of the customisation bar in the Nike Store in Shanghai.
The Nike Store in Shanghai brings next-level shoe customisation to customers.

6. Make Customer Service 24/7

A unified brand experience unlocks the ability to respond to your customers' wants and needs around the clock. When your in-store customer service closes, chatbots, automated messaging and other technology-powered experiences step in to offer the instant interactions consumers demand from their favourite brands.

60% of 25-34 year olds prefer to access support using text, online chat or messenger apps.

7. Continue the Conversation

Keeping customers engaged throughout the buying journey is easier within an omnichannel strategy. Build loyalty by linking online and offline channels in an immersive experience made up of multiple touchpoints – from welcome emails and reward incentives to online content and exclusive events.

Ready to future-proof your business with an omnichannel approach?

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