Contextualizing the Omnichannel Shopping Experience

Historically, retail marketing has been viewed in two parts: online and in-store. However, the user journey is far more nuanced than this, as shopping has evolved into a true omnichannel experience. Now, marketers are scrambling to keep up.

Even when purely looking to increase in-store sales, marketers must look across channels. After all, according to eMarketer, digital influences half of all in-store retail sales, and that influence is expected to grow to 58% over the next few years.

While the inclination to date has been to utilize digital campaigns to drive foot traffic, in-store visits alone aren’t enough.

Indeed, a recent study by Murphy Research found that the channel used for initial product research is most likely the channel that the user will purchase from. Thus, if a consumer finds a product or store through an online channel, there is only a 36% likelihood that they’ll make their purchase while in the store. Rather, they are much more likely (64%) to transact online.

Thus, retail marketers must not look at foot-traffic as the end goal for their digital campaigns, but rather a step in the right direction from which they can collect valuable behavior data to improve their omnichannel shopping experience.

Unfortunately, only 22% of retailers are leveraging marketing strategies that support the omnichannel shopping experience. Meanwhile, another 48% of retailers are still working toward that goal.

To make sense of the myriad of paths a shopper could take through online and in-store experiences and craft messaging that nurtures each route, marketers require rather advanced campaign personalization and sequencing capabilities.

Thus, it’s not surprising that 35% of retailers recently surveyed are actively looking for ways to implement personalized customer communications in 2018. However, a majority of retail executives (58%) admit that turning data into usable insights remains a struggle. After all, each customer journey is unique, and developing a handful of personas from which to generate campaigns simply isn’t enough anymore. Rather, finding patterns is best left to advanced AI that can leverage dynamic creative optimization and contextually find the most relevant messaging in a given moment.

Historically, such tools have been made available only to large enterprises and Fortune 500 brands, leaving smaller retailers at a disadvantage. Fortunately, this is changing.

In the interim, retailers can develop creative sets that appeal to the unique attributes shoppers consider when shopping online versus in-store — provided the retailer has those insights. For instance, according to a recent consumer study:

  • Shoppers looking for convenience are twice as likely to shop online.
  • Shoppers looking for cost savings were 1.9 times as likely to shop online.
  • Shoppers looking for reliability were 3.4 times more likely to shop in-store.
  • Shoppers looking for customer service were 4 times more likely to shop in-store.

Of course, not all retailers can speak to online savings or in-store customer service, and shoppers won’t be swayed to a purchase based on these attributes alone. Nonetheless, the fact that consumer needs are markedly different based on their setting speaks to the need for messaging that is contextually and dynamically optimized across all channels to speak to the shopper needs in a given moment.

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How do you optimize your messaging to appeal to the various stages of the omnichannel shopping experience, and what challenges have you encountered in the process? Let us know by joining the conversation on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

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