Gartner: 3 Ways Retailers Are Bridging Online and Offline Commerce Experiences
Over 30,000 people converged on NYC for NRF to learn the latest retail trends. One of biggest takeaways was that NRF now looks a lot like Shop.org. Digital technology is no longer a side dish, it’s the main entrée, with retailers lining up to hear about mobile marketing technology designed to identify, attract and engage customers before they even enter the store and digital commerce platforms that integrate with their ERP technology infrastructure and their digital marketing technology stack to support the full lifecycle of retail marketing across online and offline channels—store, Web, mobile and social networks.
The biggest takeaway from 2015 NRF was the share of mind (and Expo floor space) that retailers and technology service providers dedicated to digital technology that bridges the online and offline worlds. It appears retailers have learned that it’s no longer about funneling customer down a particular path, or even failed attempts to predict which path a consumer might follow. Today’s digital commerce experience—and even the in-store experience is becoming a digital commerce experience—is about enabling a customer-led commerce experience with meaningful connections between channels.
3 Ways Retailers are Bridging the Gap
Digitizing the in-store environment.
The Rebecca Minkoff store in SoHo and in the eBay booth at the NRF Expo features digital displays in its fitting rooms and RFID tags on all of its merchandise, allowing the display to sense what items shoppers have in the room, show how items pair together and enable shoppers to request additional colors, sizes and pieces and have them brought to the fitting room. No more awkwardly traipsing around the store in your socks or trying to flag a salesperson. In addition to improving the in-store (and in-fitting room) environment, the store also lets shoppers to save their fitting room session by choosing to send themselves an SMS and retrieve the session later on the retailer’s website.
Turning mobile associates into front-line marketers.
Integration of CRM and loyalty data and proliferation of clienteling tools on associates’ smartphones and tablets could bring this technique from luxury shoppers to the masses. Retailers can arm associates with customer data from CRM systems and loyalty programs, and info customers provide during their store visit, to tailor in-store interaction and maintain engagement after the visit. To avoid the creepy-factor, customers have to opt-in to this and brand marketing can control what info employees can see, as well as what content they can send. This allows front-line employees to become marketers and ambassadors. It may not work for all retailers due to the level of training and interaction involved, but you don’t have to shop the high-rent district to get a personal touch.
Connecting mobile consumers’ devices to drive traffic and conversion.
The bridge between online and offline can be figurative, as well as literal. Major mobile network providers are in a race to turn your car into a mobile device. But this isn’t just about helping you stay connected to friends and family, check your email or update your Facebook status. This is also about using mobile location data to make relevant recommendations—nearby restaurants, stores, and even gas stations based on your location (and the position of your fuel gauge). Seems sort of futuristic, but imagine the ability to drive literal traffic to your store or restaurant by informing nearby customers about your promotions or gas prices.
*This article was originally published on the Gartner Blog by Jennifer Polk
Going Green with Mobile
As of March 1, 2013, plastic bags are no longer permitted to be used in grocery stores in Austin, Texas. This forces us to buy reusable bags and bring them to the supermarket, but it also makes us greener consumers. Whole Foods has been using wind-based renewable-energy credits since 2006 to offset their energy use. Businesses are thinking more about how they can make their operations greener to reduce costs and how the products they use/sell affect consumers too.
It is no longer enough for us to print fewer pages in the office and depend upon digital files. The way businesses communicate with customers’ needs to change too. Grocery stores are a perfect example of high amounts of waste – circulars, direct mail and printed coupons. That is a lot of wasted paper and money. I totally understand that the use of circulars is still fairly high, but printed coupons are definitely on the decline and so is direct mail. If a grocery store was to reduce their circular printing from a run of 100,000 each week to 60,000 each week, then they can put the extra money towards a lower cost revenue driver like text marketing and be 5 times greener.
Making Green with Mobile
Every grocery store MUST HAVE mobile websites by now. If you do not have one, then people are shopping elsewhere or they are less informed about your product offerings and therefore buying fewer items. Get your mobile websites up and running, and make sure you stick to the 3-click rule. If it takes more than 3 clicks to get to any content, then people will stop trying. Include recipe ideas and give customers the ability to send the shopping list via text message. This makes shopping easier, and you can deliver a coupon code via text marketing too. Promote your recipes and shopping lists on digital screens in-store or posters. Let customers text in to a keyword to get the link or scan a QR code – remember that not everyone has a smartphone.
Try this out for 1-2 months and you will see impressive results. Your grocery store will be greener, customers will be satisfied, your marketing costs will be reduced, and revenue will definitely increase from the mobile coupon redemption. Go Mobile to Go Green.
How Retailers Integrate Text Marketing
With consumer’s increased daily use of hand-held devices, shoppers are consulting their devices while grocery shopping. As shoppers look to their devices for inspiration on what to buy, they are also using it for bargain shopping as well.
A report from Allrecipes.com shows that 44% of women use their mobile device more often while at the grocery store compared to one year ago. Combine that fact with the forecast that an estimated $10 billion dollars in mobile coupons will be redeemed this year alone, which is a 50% increase over 2012. Grocers should be looking for a way to take advantage of mobile marketing using both location and time when delivering their marketing message.
There is no easier way than through text marketing. Delivering a simple text message to engage customers opens up a relationship, and gives grocers the opportunity to communicate with the consumer at every point of the retail cycle – from product information to product purchase. Grocers can also capture data such as demographic details, location and frequency of visits from customers when they opt-in to a text marketing campaign.
Marketers can plan for more targeted text messages to customers in the future. By promoting the SMS database through in-store signage, events, billboards and other traditional advertising vehicles like print ads, stores are able to start a more direct relationship with customers. From this intelligent SMS database, marketers are able to deliver campaigns that result in higher ROI’s as well as open up additional avenues like mobile websites, mobile apps and mobile advertising. The key to a successful mobile marketing plan is creating a cohesive customer experience across all of your marketing avenues, and text marketing can act as the glue among those channels.
Today, approximately 91% percent of the population in the United States carries a celphone. One in four cell phone subscribers uses their handheld device to access the mobile web. CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) companies have a ready market of customers, and incorporating a mobile marketing strategy in their overall marketing efforts that is familiar to their customers makes good sense.
Results from Mobile Marketing
Mobile marketing to CPG customers can help to build a company’s brand, make customers aware of special offers, and increase customer retention. The ads can be customized so that they are of interest to local buyers. With mobile technology, companies can also implement audio ads with an automated voice service. Mobile response accuracy allows companies to get measurable results from mobile marketing campaigns.
These companies can use banner ads to direct customers to the closest retail location where they can buy products. Banner ads can also be utilized to offer specific deals to local customers. Coupons can be shared with customers through their cell phones as well.
I think the idea of using mobile websites for CPG customers is a very effective one. Cell phone users are likely to use these resources to plan a shopping trip. Modern consumers are always on the lookout for the best deal for products they are buying on a regular basis and I can see how offering coupons or special offers through a cell phone would be an effective way to generate sales.