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Bruno Berthezene Managing Director Solocal

How can brands bridge the gap between the online and offline worlds?

For brands looking to thrive in today’s digital age, understanding the relationship between the online and offline worlds is vital to their success. With Forrester revealing that the majority of non-grocery offline sales will be influenced by the internet as early as 2017, it’s more important than ever before that brands create a seamless experience at every stage of the customer journey, from web to store. 

Stand out from the crowd

When developing an online web-to-store strategy, there are a number of key tactics brands can employ to bridge the gap between online and offline, increase sales and enrich the customer experience. Using personalised and contextualised digital display adverts provide an excellent means of engaging with customers early on in their purchase journey. With a vast number of brands competing for consumers’ attention on desktops, smartphones and tablets, delivering content which stands out from the crowd is vital to the success of advertising strategies. Through using social, behavioural, geographic and demographic data to display personalised content to a user, multichannel businesses are able to increase the likelihood of engaging with consumers and capturing their initial interest. 

Use a store locator to enrich the customer experience

Store locators are another key tool that brands can use to connect with customers online, whilst also driving traffic in store. With over 34 million searches with local intent being made each day in the UK alone, they provide an excellent means of putting customers in touch with their nearest outlet. Dynamic store locator platforms, such as offered by Solocal Group, also provide additional services like product locators, which further enhance the customer experience and prompt consumers to visit their local outlet. As a recent Internet Retailing report revealed, 74 percent of customers would like to see whether an item they’re searching for is in stock nearby, highlighting how highly regarded this service is. 

Offer incentives to make the journey from online to in-store

To help increase sales and drive in-store footfall, click and collect and click and reserve options can be integrated seamlessly into store locators. Providing this service not only benefits customers, but enables retailers to optimise their online experience and increase the online-offline conversion rate; this was evident during the Christmas period last year when 25 percent of shoppers purchased extra goods from the store where they collected their order.  

To maximise the success of web-to-store strategies, customers should be offered further incentives to engage in the form of discounts or coupons, which can be downloaded from a website and redeemed in store. Personal shopping services are also a great way of encouraging customers to visit a bricks and mortar store, and in addition to increasing footfall, also help to increase order value and improve customer loyalty and retention. 

Seamlessly connect online and offline

The development of digital platforms has meant that online now forms an integral part of the customer journey, and has the potential to dramatically impact offline sales. When US retailer Macy’s, for example, introduced a new e-commerce platform, their website not only generated a $1billion rise in online sales, but also influenced $5 billion worth of in-store sales. As this illustrates, web-to-store strategies which seamlessly bridge the online and offline worlds can create huge benefits for retailers, whilst also improving the customer experience. It’s therefore vital that brands understand the relationship between the two worlds and how they can complement each other to maximise the success of both channels.