Tell people not to do something, and it's the first thing they will do once the prohibition goes away. This is human psychology 101 and the reason for the boom in brick & mortar shopping since pandemic restrictions loosened worldwide. Offline sales grew over 14% in 2021 and contributed 80.7% to the overall gains in retail spending. This was a rebellious move after the pandemic slashed in-store sales, which amounted to 84% of retail sales in the US before Covid-19 restrictions.
During the peak of the pandemic, moving your customers to online channels did not require much encouragement. Everyone wanted or needed ecommerce.
But retail brands made a misstep in their offline to online transition
They had a chance to capitalize on the long-term opportunity to build their online brand presence, ecommerce supply chain, and logistics. Ecommerce was not meant to be a stop-gap arrangement for the pandemic. It's here to stay. Unfortunately, many brands only begrudgingly accepted this development. They didn't have a plan to transition their offline shoppers to various online channels permanently.
But it is not too late.
With each shopping channel you add to your brand, your customers are more likely to buy from you with higher average order values, delivering a higher lifetime value for each customer. According to McKinsey's Consumer and Retail Practice, omnichannel customers shop 1.7x more than single-channel shoppers and spend more. Other advantages of omnichannel shopping experiences include:
- Online shopping is more spontaneous. Since the lag between needing a product and actually buying it is minimal, the 1.7x statistic makes sense. Give your customer multiple channels (app, website, shoppable social touchpoints) to engage with you in their split-second decisions.
- Your "business timings" no longer end when you turn over the "closed" banner outside your shop window. With ecommerce, you are in business 24x7. Even if your customer care doesn't reply late at night on the website, your social media can have enough product demos and information to clarify questions.
- Immediate inventory is not required for display in shops, and shoppers have the convenience of pre-booking.
Your ultimate goal is not to migrate offline shoppers away from in-store. Instead, it is to complement your shoppers' brick & mortar experiences with omnichannel shopping touchpoints.
The partnership between online and offline will be the key to retail success in the coming years
With online channels, it makes sense in the long term to activate all potential shoppable touchpoints the customer may interact with.
Start by looking at why shoppers are going back to brick & mortar alternatives:
- Pure habitual preference for offline shopping: The customer gets to touch and feel, test and inspect products and immediately take them home. They use offline shopping to dispel doubts about the quality, which leads to fewer disappointments.
- Preference for one-on-one shopping assistance: Many shoppers continue to prefer personalized service provided by physical stores rather than faceless chatbots.
If you address these needs and habits across your omnichannel shopping environment, you will earn omnichannel shoppers who shop more and shop frequently.
How to convert offline shoppers to omnichannel shoppers
Let's explore four decisive steps that can help in these times of flux when your shoppers return to stores while still exploring their favorite channels to shop after two years of ecommerce transition.
1. Find out the most likely omnichannel converts
Your customer data (specifically first-party data) should help you identify those who will not use online channels in the post-pandemic world. Usually, these customers don't register with their emails or engage with your brand on social media. Instead, they often talk to your customer representatives via the call center and have never visited your website.
Ignore these customers for now. Your strategy for them is different.
The rest of the customer database, i.e., customers who have visited your brand website, subscribed to your email newsletter, and interacted with you on social media, are viable targets. They may not have shopped online, but their feelers are out.
Segment them according to their buying preferences and bring them into the fold of your online brand experience.
2. Save on extensive consumer research with lookalike modeling
Once you have identified customers who are most likely to convert to one or more online channels, use their behavioral insights to scale your reach. Create lookalike audiences that are essentially new customers but behave similarly to your likely omnichannel converts. Use the defining traits of the identified segment to model your lookalike segments and unlock new shopper pools using the right AI and targeting tools.
The investment in delving into brand new audience data with no context is higher than scaling the segment you know will work. Secondly, this lookalike segment will more likely switch to the behaviors you want them to with the same targeting strategies because they resemble your base audience.
You will penetrate new segments of customers who are most likely to become your omnichannel shoppers, leading to high ROI customer acquisition.
3. Make offers to nudge them to go online with targeted messaging
You have a roster of customers experimenting with one or two online channels but not converting. You need to bring them on board as your online shoppers, not just lurkers. Promotions and discounts will do the trick. A few that have worked in our experience include:
- Gamified deals involving spinning the wheel to get a discount the customer can use on your app;
- Buy-one-get-one offers which are not available on offline purchases;
- Giveaway competitions the customer cannot participate in unless they engage on your Instagram page or register on your ecommerce website;
- Rewards that the customer can collect through your shopping app but not in your brick & mortar stores.
Execute a web of interconnected offers incentivizing customers to participate across channels. An additional bonus of these offers is that your customer leaves behind new data points every time they engage with you on a new medium. These insights will make your customer data and profiles sturdier and more reliable.
4. Bring the store to your customers
We talked about the reasons why some customers prefer in-store services. You do not have to compromise on these to turn them into online shoppers. If the customer wants a personalized store environment, use AR/VR tools to conduct shop tours.
If your customers miss shopping weekends with their friends, and that's why they choose to go in-store, you can consider virtual shopping parties.
You can assign a personal point of contact via chat or email to customers keen on old-school 1-1 assistance in their shopping.
The easiest way to unlock these tools to the right customers is to segment and target with robust customer intelligence platforms that deliver cohorts, contextualizing, and deterministic targeting.
Amazon did this with a twist. They now have physical stores, combined with a high-tech shopping experiences. As you can see, even legendary ecommerce stores are looking to deliver omnichannel experiences to their shoppers. A single channel, online or offline, just doesn't cut it anymore. This is precisely why every modern retail brand needs a robust omnichannel shopping strategy.
Lifesight is here for your offline to omnichannel transition
Even during the pre-pandemic "normal", Lifesight helped retail brands around the world build and execute their omnichannel shopping strategy with customer data at its core. As a result, we enabled many traditional retail brands to pivot to omnichannel at a significant scale and speed during the pandemic.
Customer data enables you to master the offline-to-omnichannel funnel, whether it is data collected in-store or through online channels. So, maximize sales and synergize your online and offline shopping experiences on the back of customer data, sharp insight, and actionable analytics. Lifesight is here to help you take the first step.