January 14, 2019

The Online in the Offline

What attracts people to online shopping? Discounts? Convenience? Personalization?

The recent years have seen a large increase in online retail. In the next five years, online retail is expected to be at par with physical stores and has grown 23 per cent to $17.8 billion in 2017. So what caused this growth in online purchase?

Online retail functions on the basis of the 6C’s of shopping: Content, Convenience, Customization, Community, Choice and Cost Reduction, thereby allowing retailers to offer a more satisfying experience to users. They are able to drive targeted discounts and marketing because they have access to customer data such as purchase history, tastes and preferences. By analyzing customer buying patterns, they can anticipate their wants and needs, and guide them down the sales funnel towards their next purchase. Online shopping offers convenience literally at the customer’s fingertips.

While the growth of online-to-offline (O2O) is slowly gaining momentum, the focus lies now on how to leverage the digital platform in the offline world to enable customer retention and in turn drive sales. One of the more common reasons people still prefer to shop in-store is because of the trust factor. Using brand loyalty to their advantage, retailers must change the way customers interact with their favorite brand and vice versa. The power of data will help achieve this, reaping multiple benefits in terms of customer identification, engagement, personalization and assistance.

Gamification has been prevalent in offline stores for a long time, but the question lies in how to turn offers into an interactive and personal experience for customers. Brick-and-mortar stores are using the tools of “new retail” to captivate consumers and keep them engaged from their first impression till the point of purchase. By improving data analysis capabilities, retailers will be able to better understand customer experience requirements and offer something more. Retailers are increasingly enabling targeted, ‘in-the-moment’ communications based on predictive analysis derived from past purchase behavior.

Today, access to data is as important as having a physical store because based on the data driven strategies, retailers can build customer segmentation that is smart, relevant and always live. Data driven strategies addresses three stages in a customer’s shopping journey: how the consumer discovers the store/product, their buying behavior and location. Slicing data based on the above 3 stages, will help differentiate between the most loyal customers and new ones and will help communicate with them accordingly. Data analysis will also include time spent in store, demographics, purchasing power, time and day customer visits store, influence of discounts on purchasing behavior, etc. and will help retailers deliver a more personalized omnichannel experience to the customer. By combining networks of physical stores and fulfillment of digital tools, retailers will have access to highly relevant and beneficial product assortment which can be conveyed to customers in terms of exactly what they are looking for.

While many paint a downhill picture for offline retail, the scope for retail stores is vast and promising. Offline retailers have to be creative in developing an easy, dynamic, personalized and seamless experience to customers leveraging online tools to their advantage.

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