While retailers recognize that most purchases can be accomplished by conveniently using an electronic medium, they also know that “one click” shopping does not satisfy everyone. In order to capture this population and to entice the online shoppers to visit stores, brick-and-mortar retailers must use the technology available to co-exist with the virtual world and enhance the in-store experience. Studies show that 80% of store shoppers check prices online, with one-third accessing the information on their mobile device while inside the actual store. This percentage proves that consumers are approaching their experience from multiple angles. Consequently, retailers must consider ways to make the in-store experience multi-dimensional.
Enter omni-channel marketing. Omni-channel is a form of marketing that gives retailers the ability to cross brand using multiple formats and devices. This approach allows customers to create their own experiences, provides opportunities for retailers to be more competitive, and increases revenue. Retailers are streamlining their marketing efforts and the clear lines that once existed between online and brick-and-mortar operations have now become blurred.
Mobile applications have multiple functions. They are used to remind customers of prior purchases, to introduce new products, to deliver product discounts, and to complete purchases. These applications also allow customers to send text messages that reward them with in-store coupons, receive loyalty rewards to use toward future purchases and even pay for their purchase. All of this data is collected by retailers and used when establishing future marketing and merchandising efforts.
In addition to the numerous conveniences of personal devices, some retailers provide tablets within their stores for customers’ use when shopping. Still others have taken the next steps to entice consumers into their store and to send the shopping experience to new heights. Ugg has established the innovation lab which includes a large touch screen that enables shoppers to customize their footwear while in the store and have items delivered if they are not available at the time of purchase. Neiman Marcus has launched Memory Mirror at select stores. Memory Mirror is a giant video screen that remembers customers and what they have tried on. Memory Mirror enables shoppers to see outfits from 360 degrees, compare clothing options side-by-side, and email videos and photos of the clothing to others. The use of this technology allows customers to shape shopping experiences in ways that were never before possible.
The interactive experience that customers now have while shopping in stores is one that cannot be created by shopping online alone, and the converse is also true. The omni-channel marketing strategy allows customers to begin their experience before entering the store, maximize its potential while in the store and continue it long after leaving the store. As retailers continue to use technology to integrate the online and in-store experiences, the possibilities seem endless.