Surf’s up: Toward shopper marketing integration
Forrester estimates that $249b will be spent on online retail in 2014 in the US of A. (Great until you consider what Roland Emmerich estimates will happen in 2012.) When we think of people shopping online, our tendency might be to think of a housewife at home, at her desktop computer, slightly less bewildered than perhaps the average housewife would have been five years ago, clicking away at Tesco or Amazon. However, as a brand’s presence online is effectively communicated and merged with in-store comms, people are increasingly shopping online while in-store, as typified by last year’s notorious Dixons campaign.
As eConsultancy reports, while previously there may have been a fluid, predictable path to purchase, since the arrival of the Internet things have changed. “People research online and buy offline. They research offline and then buy online. And in both cases the brands and retailers are likely to vary. And in both cases satisfaction with the experience impacts repeat purhcase likelihood across all channels.” The risk is that someone might use the bricks-and-mortar store as a mere window, an experiential exhibition to test and get a feel of the products before buying them online. This is exactly what the article goes on to detail, albeit anecdotally. It calls the situation “apocalyptically galling” for offline retailers. Some high-street stores are responding. HMV for example has POS comms suggesting people buy the product just as easily from their website (a precarious strategy as somone might defer their purchase while in-store and for one of many reasons not go through with the online purchase). These online alternatives will be judged against the John Lewis et al. of the world by cost, convenience and service. Many will not be able to tick all three boxes.
More recently, eConsultancy wrote about the recent publication of a survey entitled “Respect the Shopper: Harmonizing the Cross-Channel Experience”. The survey revealed,
• 88% said they had shopped that retailer’s web site
• 75% said visiting the brand’s web site helps them to shop in-store
• 85% compared prices online
• 44% visited a competitor’s web site
• 26% will visit the retailer’s web site to continue shopping after leaving the store
This level of integration bodes well for promotional activity and awareness opportunities. However it also leaves the shopper open to exposure to competitive retailers while in-store, instantly. One way to combat this challenge will be to make the shopping experience – from specific promotions to the retail environment – more personal and engaging, to create some sort of an affinity for the store they are in and the brand as a whole, taking away the relatively bespoke nature of the online environment.