As e-commerce boomed, many feared the era of traditional brick-and-mortar shopping may be coming to a close. Yet, though digital sales continue to proliferate, customers still flock to physical stores. In fact, in a recent cross-demographic survey of 2,500 shoppers, 90 percent would still prefer to buy in a brick-and-mortar store. Additionally, research by eMarketer reveals that 94% of total retail sales are still generated at such venues.
So does this mean retailers should focus their efforts solely on maximizing their in-store experience? Not exactly. Rather, successful companies will be those that utilize CRM to create a seamless customer experience across every channel. The blending of these worlds is creating an entirely new way of doing business. In fact, Salesforce calls the strategy “digical”—an approach that appeals to both physical and digital spheres of commerce.
Of critical importance: engagement. Customers often visit physical locations to showroom, or try out products before buying online. The online equivalent of this is known as webrooming, where customers research and learn about products before going in the store to purchase. In both environments, engaging customers is essential to earning their trust, piquing their interest, and ultimately securing their loyalty. Salesforce offers the following tips for standing out in an omnichannel environment:
Focus Your Supply Chain on the Customer and Equip Associates with Support
Companies who stand out offer their customers multiple options for procurement and delivery, and make sure their employees have the operational visibility and insight to back it up. From allowing online customers to pick up their purchase in-store or allowing in-store staff to place orders for out-of-stock items online, central to cross-channel functionality are constant communication and real-time company updates—and a CRM system that helps keep track of it all.
Consider the Store as Part of the Path-to-Purchase
No longer simple a repository for inventory, physical stores today are upping their potential as an “inspiration site,” creating an environment that caters to the customer. Whether you’re offering patrons refreshments and relaxed seating, or introducing them to exciting new innovations such as smart mirrors that let them try on clothes virtually, consider this—Google research reveals that 80 percent of customers make up their minds on what to buy before they even enter a store. The opportunity to expand their horizons is ripe.
Keep it Personal, and Use Technology to Leverage Big Data
Big Data encompasses insights generated as customers and brands interact across the Internet of Things (IoT). While sometimes overwhelming, this knowledge can be used to help brands more directly align their outreach strategies with shopper interest and purchase patterns. New technologies such as beacons are bringing this type of visibility into the physical store as well, allowing companies to identify shoppers by their smartphone, then send relevant in-store offers and promotions. In turn, as engagement occurs, insights are provided into what shoppers respond best to, how they interact with brands, and what to shy away from, helping direct future efforts.
More and more, customers expect personalization, and staying on top of omnichannel communications requires CRM software that caters to both the online and physical store presence, keeping all data in a centralized database, regardless of where the interaction occurs. Without the guesswork of organization or the time-consuming process of switching between multiple, disparate systems, companies are free to focus their efforts on the one entity driving this new marketing movement—the customer.
“Disruptive Retailers Are Pioneering New ‘Digical’ Strategies,” Salesforce UK, October 7, 2015, https://www.salesforce.com/uk/blog/2015/10/disruptive-retailers-pioneering-new-digical-strategies.html?d=70130000000i7MP.
Thau, Barbara, ““Study Finds Shoppers Prefer Brick-And-Mortar Stores to Amazon and EBay,” Forbes, July 25, 2014, http://www.forbes.com/sites/barbarathau/2014/07/25/report-amazons-got-nothing-on-brick-and-mortar-stores/.
Beyond Knowledge Management: What Every Business Leader Should Know, Edited by Jay Liebowitz, Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2011.