Customer Experience: From Store to Digital
For companies to succeed in 2017, they need more than just a physical store or an engaging website.
Separate customer experiences won’t cut it anymore, either, since customers expect smart service across all brand platforms. For companies to stay ahead of their competitors, a strong and seamless omnichannel approach is necessary. Digital is no longer a separate entity from store operations, but a tool to engage customers on their computers and smartphones. In fact, a recent survey by Apptentive reported that 88 percent of customers use mobile apps and that number is slated to keep growing.
Although digital sales are profitable in their own right, digital capabilities can also be used to bolster in-store sales. Retail operations are most successful when physical and digital platforms converge to create a dynamic experience across channels. Companies using digital interfaces to enhance their in-store experience increase both brand loyalty and customer experience and engagement. There is a broad range of opportunities for companies to merge their brand experience across platforms, with the following points offering insight on some of the most popular methods being used to increase customer experience and interaction through omnichannel engagement.
Exclusive digital offers keep up app engagement
It’s reported that One in Four Customers delete a phone app after only one use; so for apps to remain relevant, retailers need to create long-term customer engagement with their app. Retailers do this is by displaying their company’s updates in the app, offering exclusive event invites and sharing promotions to app users before the information is available to the general public. Since customers love to be the first to know information about their favorite stores, keeping them apprised of company news via in-app updates is a fundamental tool to increase engagement – and sales.
Digital training tests employee proficiency
Employee training is repeatedly identified as being one of the biggest opportunities for retailer growth. However, employee training can be costly and it can be difficult for retailers to test employee proficiency on new products and policies. More companies are gravitating towards digital employee training, as it cuts costs and gives retailers the opportunity to test employee proficiency in specific areas. Through digital training, managers can identify their employee’s strengths, as well as in what areas they need further training and resources. An added perk? Retailers can reference apps from anywhere at anytime – allowing them to review these reports and countless other data, as well.
Geofencing shows where customers are really spending their time
Possibly the most important tool for increasing ad relevancy, geo-fencing tracks different areas of a store to determine which areas specific customers spend the most time. This enables retailers to send customers push notifications and relevant coupons in real time, as well as to cater their mail coupons to customer preferences. MarketDive recently found that, “71 percent of customers prefer targeted ads” and therefore, instead of marketing to customers based on limited generalities, geo-fencing lets retailers track and segment their customer base to give customers the personalization they want. They can then follow-up on store visits with targeted ad campaigns containing images and offers catered to that specific customer’s areas of interest.
Analytics locate patterns in store sales and traffic
What geo-fencing is to the individual customer, analytics are to the store as a whole. Analytics offers a wide variety of applications, including locating patterns in store traffic to help companies make informed staffing decisions. By tracking sales for the previous year, retail analytics can determine which days are the highest in traffic to make sure they’re adequately covered during peak times. Additionally, analytics can also be used when purchasing inventory. Analytics predict sales by tracking product sales for similar products over the previous years based on seasonal events, the weather, and holidays – just to name a few factors. With this information, retailers can order only the products statistically proven to have the most positive effect on their bottom line — preventing sales loss from unused or unsold inventory.
Customer retention through integration
Although many of the relationships in business today are between the customer and their preferred digital platforms, the saying “the customer is always right” still applies. Of course, this isn’t black and white. Instead, nowadays customers expect a brand’s message and personalization efforts to be the same whether they’re communicating via computer, storefront, or mobile device. The responsibility is on the retailer to deliver personalized advertising, marketing and communication through whichever platform that customer prefers to engage with their audience – no matter what avenue this customer’s journey may take them on. This means that retailers need to merge their digital and physical efforts to create an engaging brand experience that remains consistent, regardless of how their customers choose to interact with the brand.
Finally, as you consider ways to overlap the digital and in-store experience, also consider the value that multiple avenues of brand communication has with your audience. At every possible touchpoint a customer may make, you want your brand to be there. At every possible intersection your customer may pass, you want your brand to be there. At every possible stop sign your customer may make, you want your brand to be there. It’s these intersecting, overlapping journeys that ultimately make brands either stand out or get lost among consumer interest along the way.
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