As consumer shopping behaviours continue to evolve, it is more important than ever for retailers to help connect the dots between online and offline to create seamless and exciting experiences for their customers. This is particularly pertinent as we head into peak season.
As we know, the pandemic has caused lasting shifts in consumer behaviours and omnichannel shopping is more widespread than ever. Ahead of Black Friday and Christmas, people will be planning their shopping trips informed by what they see online but also vice versa. Google retail research showed that 30% of shoppers browse online most or every time they purchase in store, and 24% go into a store most or every time they purchase online.
People are increasingly using online for window shopping, and the way they are researching when doing so is changing. UK Google Trends data shows that generic queries like ‘volumising mascara’ and ‘best dining table’ are growing at a faster rate than branded queries and when it comes to fashion, there has been a 40% rise in searches for apparel in specific colours. Thus, marketers need to ensure their search and shopping strategy allows for relevant and distinctive presence for such queries, with setup covering these exact and detailed searches. Noted marketer Seth Godin explains that window shopping is both a risk and opportunity for brands. With everything being just a click or two away, its vital that brands build a window worth looking at. When people have narrowed down their options post-online research, they again rely on online to find out where to shop in-store. In the past 4 years searches containing ‘near me’ have risen 950%. Therefore, having visible accurate and up-to-date inventory is key to facilitate the online to offline journey.
Consumers crave the physical, visual and social experience of shopping that comes with bricks-and-mortar. Stores have done this successfully with experimental activations and adding value through additional services and eliminating pain points. But now shoppers have similar expectations when it comes to online. It is important retailers give a full 360 -degree-view of products - provided by the likes of images, video and AR - as well as engagement and conversation around the product from other shoppers. Google Trends data show a 40% increase in terms containing “review” on YouTube, so brands should incentivise their customers to give their opinion on the products they’ve purchased.
Finally tying online and offline data together will be key: retailers should utilise cross-device targeting and geo-location tools to facilitate this. QR codes are also a great tool for reaching new customers in advertising and incentivising them the head in-store.