Odds are, before your customers ever walk into your brick-and-mortar store, they’ve researched what they plan to buy from it online. Consumers seek out a complete shopping experience — from browsing on their mobile phone to browsing in the store — and because of this, online search has become a powerful way to direct prospects to your business.
New research from Google, conducted with Ipsos Media CT and Sterling Brands, shows that 75 percent of buyers who find helpful information in search results are more likely to visit those stores. If pertinent information is not easily available online, shoppers often stay away: The same research shows that 25 percent of consumers say they will not visit the store if they can’t confirm the product is in stock online.
As a retailer, you need to think of yourself as a provider of a shopping experience, rather than just a seller of products. The path to purchase is becoming a cross-channel experience, with online research and the in-store visit being integrated into one “purchase experience.”
Because of this, it’s essential that you market your store’s products online, and sync these marketing efforts with in-store operations. Only then will the customer see both the online and in-store presence as complementary and interchangeable — which will help your bottom line. Here are four ways to make sure you have a successful multichannel marketing strategy.
1. The Same Brand Everywhere
The first step is to ensure that your brand’s look — and story — are consistent online and in-store. What do customers say after they’ve interacted with your company? What pain point does the business solve? Who is the audience? How would an outsider describe the company?
Allow individuals to identify themselves to the brand by personalizing the customer experience. On the website, it’s easy to use cookie technology to identify a visitor. In store, it becomes much more difficult unless geofencing or beacons are used. Connecting the two is even more challenging, but with a multichannel strategy, customers expect to be recognized regardless of their method of interaction.
2. The Same Information Available Everywhere
Next, make sure the same information is available in the store and on the website. For example, consumers should be able to go online to find information on price, product availability and the location of the nearest outlet. Keep in mind, you’ll have to compete with retail leaders like Sears and Office Depot, who use local inventory ads to drive in-store traffic.
One of the success stories in providing a seamless multichannel experience is Disney. Once customers have booked a trip online, they can use the “My Disney Experience” tool to plan the details. In the park, visitors can use their mobile app to locate the attractions and gauge the estimated wait time for each. Disney’s MagicBand program also has FastPass access, hotel room keys, photo storage and a food-ordering tool.