There’s always a lot riding on being able to garner the attention of your audience and close the deal when they walk into the store. The holiday season continues to increase in importance as eCommerce, and mobile apps continue to take away market share from retailers, grocery stores, and restaurants. The truth is, this trend doesn’t have any signs of slowing down, so it’s up to business owners to invent new ways to stay relevant.
One method that shows a lot of promise is to shift the focus away from channel-centric efforts towards building your business around the customer experience instead. Customers like simplicity. Forward-thinking brand manufacturers need to begin intertwining their channels into an omnichannel approach, eliminating duplication and fragmentation in the buying process.
We’ve laid out four ways you can begin to intertwine the online & in-store shopping experience to have a successful holiday season:
4 Ways to Intertwine Online & In-Store Shopping
1. Cross-Channel Customer Experiences
Shoppers today are looking beyond price comparison; they are seeking innovative brands to relate to and engage them in a unique experience. The most successful brands have a consistent, memorable environment for customers across mobile, social, web, and in-store. Providing a consistent but differentiated experience across all your channels will make them remember it. There is a clear opportunity for innovation, on-demand technology, and integration solutions to engage customers and immerse them in your brand both online and in-store.
2. Stay Connected & Top-of-Mind.
Connectivity is key. With all the distractions and options available to today’s customer, it is crucial to not only give customers a reason to shop with you, but also a way to stay in touch to remind them to do it again. Holiday shopping only magnifies this phenomenon. Many people choose to turn to familiar stores that they trust when buying gifts for their loved ones. It is important to begin thinking about creating incentives and reminders to get them to come to you.
One way to do this is by incorporating a “dollars back” incentive. The idea is simple: for every in-store purchase, visitors will receive shop credit towards another purchase at a later time. Companies like Kohls have seen great success with this over the years. The reason it works is that it creates an added level of loyalty to their stores since patrons don’t want to miss out on using their accumulating “free” cash. It’s a way to increase foot traffic that’s much more profitable than simply running sales or discounting items.
3. Let them Buy Online and Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS)
In a customer-centric model, it is important to address your audience’s needs in ways that create a competitive advantage versus online shopping. BOPIS is one way that has shown immense promise. By allowing patrons to shop for items via an online catalog, thus motivating them to physically come into the store to pick up their purchase in return for perks like free shipping, businesses now have a value proposition that can stand up to eCommerce. BOPIS is essentially a best-of-both-worlds option that gives customers freedom and convenience while providing businesses with a new way to bring people into the building. Don’t rely on foot traffic alone, incorporate an added element that invites them to come to the store instead.
4. Update Your Technology Infrastructure
We live in the age of data. From interests on social media to heat maps of foot traffic in the store, the amount of tangible statistics pertaining to every angle of a person’s interaction with your brand is staggering. One of the best investments you can make to prepare yourself for growth and success is to lean on an IT infrastructure that can grow with the times. Agility is the name of the game here. As we continue to find new ways to track customer needs, many businesses will be left behind by the ones who made technology a priority. Enabling the right infrastructure will help your store quickly pivot between different customer trends and industry innovations.
No matter the generation or era we transition into, a 360-view into both customers and your business across all channels will deliver on the shopping experience that matters. Building personal experiences, loyalty programs, and embracing the technology that will grow with your business should be the main focus to remain relevant in 2020.