Bridging The Gap Between Online and Offline Customers
Are you bridging the gap between your online and offline customer shopping experience?

Are you bridging the gap between your online and offline customer shopping experience?

Retailers run a real risk of widening the gap between their in-store shopping experience and their online shopping experience. This gap can impact performance in both locations as shoppers can consequently become confused and disloyal due to these conflicting experiences.

With 86% of customers willing to pay more for an improved in-store experience, there’s a real opportunity for retailers to integrate the physical in-store experience with the virtual online experience. Customers want to feel that a brand values their time by providing a seamless, enjoyable and easy shopper experience. This is usually carried out successfully online through various mechanisms from personalisation to reducing the number of steps in the purchase journey. However, in-store customers are left feeling increasingly undervalued and underwhelmed by their experience.

Take a visit to the high-street and venture into your favourite store, now visit their website, how different were your experiences?  Nine times out of ten the difference is phenomenal. If I visit the website of my favourite high-street retailer I can find out which stock is new this season, which stock is from the previous season and which sizes are out of stock. Better yet, the user interface of the website is simple and well organised, meaning I can order in a hurry. However if I visit the same store on the high-street It’s impossible to distinguish between new season stock and previous season stock, I struggle to find a member of staff to ask about alternative sizes, the shop floor has converted itself into a sea of clothing and the queue at the till is usually at least five deep.  My love of the brand online is cancelled out by my frustration with it offline and consequently I’ve become a single channel customer, i.e. not the sort to fully endorse the brand, shout about it on social media or recommend it to friends.

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Had new stock been highlighted via some simple point of sale displays, a shopping assistant been available, the displays been tidy and easy to look through, my shopping experience would have been completely different. After all, the bricks and mortar retailers are where shoppers put a human face to a retailer. Yet many brands are currently allocating the majority of their marketing budget to online activities, neglecting the need to build a brand personality within store.

For small or start-up retailers deciding how to allocate their marketing budget, the debate is becoming increasingly difficult.  How much do we spend online? How much do we spend offline? Where do we start?  Our advice would be to start with the basics, setting up social media accounts to shout about your business is probably something you’ve already done or thought about. However, before you start shouting about your new venture too much, make sure you’re in-store experience is on point. There’s nothing worse than creating a real online buzz for your new store, only for these customers to be disappointed when they arrive in-store. You’re then likely to have lost the customer both online and offline.

Plan your space and POS carefully; highlight promotions, best sellers and new products effectively.  It’s often difficult for small retailers to source short-run high quality printed materials at a reasonable price. However, Shop4pop.com was designed with small business in mind. We provide quick and easy online printing for small retailers, with a free online design facility for those with limited graphic design resources. We’re happy to provide advice on in-store POS too.

As you begin driving traffic through your door, watch and analyse your customer’s behaviour. How do they move around your store? How do they respond to the layout? Are some promotions working better than others? Do they have any comments on the merchandising? As the answers to these questions become clearer you will be in a much better position when it comes to allocating your budget to specific marketing activities. Moral of the storey – make sure you’re getting the basics right!

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