In today’s competitive market landscape, the most difficult challenge that brands face involves identifying which of their products shoppers contemplate purchasing but don’t actually buy. Whilst 90% of sales still occur in the physical store, brands struggle to identify which demographic of shoppers actually enter their stores, with only 20% or less of shoppers ultimately making a purchase.

With the development of interactive features across mobile technologies, brands now have the opportunity digitise their in-store experience and interact with consumers as part of the revolutionized online marketing experience. Brands need to provide engaging, participative mobile experiences that consumers are familiar with to increase the footfall in-store. A recent survey shows that 65% of shoppers prefer the physical store over online and mobile and 85% want to touch and feel products – highlighting that brands need to strategically balance these consumer preferences.

It is not a surprise that a correlation exists between what happens with digital before, during, and after a shopping experience. As identified in a recent report by Deloitte, digital technology is influencing 33% of in-store retail sales across the UK, equivalent to almost £100 billion in 2014.

The report also explores the impact of mobile technologies in reshaping purchases in-store - sales increased nearly four-fold across the same period, and now accounts for over half of digitally influenced sales. By September 2014, it was expected that 50% of offline retail sales across categories are projected to be completely digitised.

There are three main areas that brands should explore to improve their in-store mobile experiences for consumers, including:

1. Do not force customers to sign-up/sign-in in advance

It is important to allow customers to opt-in and browse your website before approaching them to sign-up for your brand. They need to build a sense of trust with your brand and interact digitally with your products. If customers were forced to input their login details every time they visit your website’s home page, online sales would likely drop due to customer frustration. Brands need to treat their customers with the same courtesy they would receive in-store - allow them space and time to explore, curate and research your brand. Once they are familiar and comfortable with your brand, they’ll sign up. Placing an emphasis on customer service for online consumers will aid in removing the tension when making purchases online.

2. Provide customers with a personalised and consistent experience across both web platforms and in-store

Customers typically conduct online research before making the initial store visit for a product. During this online research phase, brands should offer customers appropriate tips and suggestions to the relevant product(s) that have been browsed. It is imperative that this online experience for customers is engaging, uninterrupted and insightful. Ralph Lauren, in conjunction with Harrods, made the windows interactive via mobile and got more than 400 people to do the experience in a week, as they actively engaged and searched for products while initially standing outside of the store.

3. Use consumers’ data to increase sales and bridge gap between their online and store experiences

The most efficient way for brands to increase sales online is through commodifying the data of consumers found through search engines. This is known as ‘display remarketing’, and links consumers’ relevant search content to the items they are considering purchasing online. Shoppers are immediately drawn to the products that are the most relevant to them, and marketers are able to collect their data and offer consumers a positive online shopping experience. This allows brands to successfully merge the best of physical experiences with the hyper-targeted, personalised content of online remarketing.

The concept of “in-store remarketing” can be a reality if brands can effectively bridge the gap between their online and store experiences. Heal’s successfully achieved this outcome by allowing shoppers use store tablets that allowed them to browse products and create their own wish list in the store and opt-in via email at the end of the store visit. By containing the data of the products customers browsed in the store, Heal was able to retargeting those store visitors and ultimately achieve an 11% click-through improvement rate. This was sixteen times greater than an average online remarketing ad campaign and the average order value tripled in amount.

The main rule brands should abide by is to create a positive in-store experience for the consumer. By doing so, brands can more efficiently bridge the gap between their physical and digital store platforms. Consumers feel comfortable exploring the different products on offer and opting-in their information onto online platforms. This no-value exchange can simultaneously build trust between brands and consumers and successfully merge the physical store experience with digital.


By James Yancey, Founder and CEO of CloudTags.

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