How to Bridge the Gap Between eCommerce and Brick and Mortar

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By Online Marketing May 5, 2017

Meeting the different needs of customers, online and offline, is challenging in any industry. The retail industry in particular has been transformed by the digital revolution and is expanding at a rapid pace. A report written by eMarketer predicted Australia’s total online sales are estimated to exceed $32 billion in 2017 worldwide, putting us in the top ten.

While some might consider online shopping to be distinct to physical stores, they work cohesively along the end-to-end customer journey. Technology is firmly embedded across this journey and while online retailers might attract more buyers, brick and mortar businesses now have access to the digital tools that eCommerce businesses have been using for years, and are finding innovative ways to combine technology with in-store customer experience to increase sales.

How Digital Influences the Buyer Journey

A study by Deloitte found that digital influences 40% of retail brick and mortar store visits, that is, the percentage of retail store visits affected by the use of digital devices before or during the shopping trip. Two-thirds of customers use a digital device before their shopping trip and nearly a third use it while shopping in stores. Around 47% will use their device to compare products, 42% to access product information and 33% to check product availability. This has also been found to boost average conversion rates by 25% and order sizes by 21% before, during and after shopping in-store.

Utilise Different Channels

Showrooming is where consumers try on and interacts with products in store and then go online to buy the product at a later time. Shoppers might research products online but they still want to touch, feel and experience a product before they purchase it. This is why utilising different channels is crucial and combining digital and traditional marketing methods becomes effective. Consumers might see a product advertised, look it up online to see different reviews or compare products, go into a store to try it on and then purchase it online as part of a promotion. There are endless digital touchpoints for you to reach your consumers and having strategies based on multi-platforms is equally important as selling quality goods.

Embrace Social Media

The growth of social media access on mobile is also changing the shopping experience. Digital buyers turn to social media to read reviews, stay on top of fashion trends, receive promotional offerings and view ads. When it comes to deciding what to buy, ‘social proof’, that is, input from people we trust, is more influential than advertising. Those influenced by social media are 26% more likely to purchase a product or service than a non-social media user as they are further along their purchase journey.

Follow your Customers’ Journeys

Digital technology can be harnessed anywhere throughout the supply chain to provide insights into what customers want, increase efficiencies and remain agile. Listen to your customers and follow their journeys in-store and online and it’s critical moments.

Online, enable your customers to lead their own journeys and focus on innovating around product offerings. Ensure your website is responsive, make it simple and focus on imagery, showcase product reviews, provide online customer service and FAQs, decrease your site’s load time, make navigation easier and remove checkout obstacles and simplify the buying process to avoid losing frustrated customers.

In store, leverage the store footprint to help customers find, select, purchase and receive products. Study foot traffic, provide free wi-fi, offer mobile coupons while they shop, create a branded app that can be used in store, showcase user-generated content next to products, give in-store discounts for social media promotion and give shoppers a mobile checkout option.

The future of Australian retail sits at the intersection of eCommerce and brick and mortar, with digital marketing bridging the gap between the two. Digital is an integral part of the in-store shopping experience and those businesses that focus on offering shoppers a great experience as well as great products will be most successful. Over the next few years, online retail in Australia will prove to be a tough competition but holds immense opportunities for those businesses who adapt to the evolving market.

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