As marketers, we tend to divide the world into digital and analogue. Although preaching the importance of creating omni-channel experiences, we structure ourselves into teams of traditional marketers and “digital people” (take me for example, labelled as a digital strategist). But how apparent is this divide in real life? Do consumers really think about brand experiences in terms of digital and physical?
Let's take retail as an example. Research shows that 90%* of consumers use their smartphones while shopping in-store. They simultaneously stroll and scroll, browsing the physical assortment while at the same time searching online for product features, price information and reviews. They expect the ability to move seamlessly across devices and channels, and a bad experience will be a bad experience no matter where it’s encountered. Be it a grumpy sales clerk or a non-intuitive design – the customer experience will always be the sum of all interactions with your brand.
The discussion of digital vs. physical stores is definitely not a new one and it's becoming increasingly clear that we shouldn't think of it as a battle between channels. On one hand the death of brick and mortar has been predicted more than once. On the other it’s becoming increasingly common for e-commerce retailers (e.g. Amazon) to expand their business and open physical stores. It goes to show that these two types of stores can in fact live alongside each other, and the question we should be asking ourselves is instead how we can enable them to support each other.
First and foremost, this means putting consumers first. Making sure they get what they want as fast as possible, when and where they need it (even if that means allowing them to research online, buy offline, complain via phone and return goods through carrier-pigeon). Second of all, it means sharing data between channels, platforms and departments. In order to deliver relevant products, content and experiences we need to map out customer preferences, online behavior and purchase patterns. And in order to do so, we need to draw from all insights available, ranging from in-store sales statistics, to CRM data and social media conversations, making sure that insights from the sales team make their way to marketing and the other way around. It's time we stop working in silos and start focusing on making sure consumers get the best experience possible – no matter the channel or device.
*www.i-scoop.eu Digital transformation in retail: transforming for the new commerce reality