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Omni-Channel Shoppers: An Emerging Retail Reality

Retail marketing is changing. Today, success means connecting with your most important customer: the omni-channel shopper.

The way we think about and approach retail marketing is changing. Today, success means reaching consumers wherever they are, on whatever device they may be using.

Increasingly, that means smartphones. According to Google data, for much of the 2014 holiday season, mobile shopping clicks exceeded those on the desktop as shoppers made their purchase decisions on the go. And people are no longer discriminating between mobile and desktop when it comes to shopping—whether that’s in a store or on an e-commerce site. This is creating new realities for retailers, as we’ve seen from our recent research with Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands. Chief among them is the fact that digital doesn’t just drive e-commerce; it gets people in the store. And this influence doesn’t end at the entrance to the store: 71% of shoppers who use smartphones for research in-store say that it’s become an important part of the experience. Smartphones are the new personal shopping assistant for people once they’re inside.

As digital continues to touch every step of the customer journey, multi-channel retailers who operate both e-commerce and in-store channels are having to take note. They’re changing the way they think about omni-channel shoppers (for instance, Banana Republic customers who shop both online and in-store) and what their shopping behaviour means for the overall business. The most sophisticated retailers
are ensuring their marketing strategies are geared toward enabling customers to convert on any channel. Why? Because they realize that a shopper who buys from them in-store and online is their most valuable kind of customer. According to a 2015 study by IDC, these shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel.

Retailers can reap the revenue benefits of omni-channel shopping, but only if they know how to attract and connect with these highly desirable consumers. Doing so requires a deep knowledge of how these shoppers behave. It also requires structuring the company to be able to act on these insights. Let’s be honest: This is much easier said than done.

Using examples from retailers who have started to make this shift, we detail the three keys to connecting with omni-channel shopping: measure behaviour, provide relevant and local retail information, and create an organizational structure that supports omni-channel marketing.

Written by
Julie Krueger

Industry Director of Retail, Google