Any good retailer knows by now that data is key to a company’s success or failure. With the retail industry evolving, data is the secret ledger that helps retailers make sense of what customers actually want out of their shopping experience—both in-store and online. As such, it is crucial that all retailers embrace technologies that are designed to collect, organize, and analyze data in order to properly reap the rewards. But with consumers embracing omnichannel experiences—often using multiple devices to make purchases, in addition to shopping in-store—it can be challenging to organize and make sense of their consumer data. In particular, retailers need to understand the differences between in-store and online analytics.
While a customer shopping in-store and a customer shopping online may make the same purchase, they will not necessarily follow the same consumer journey. Because consumers' needs and preferences differ across channels, retailers need to be strategic in how they measure each channel's success. In this way, when implementing an analytics strategy, retailers need to consider how each channel’s consumers are distinctly different.
The journey to checkout
Online shopping experiences generally follow a precise path from one destination to another. It is this ease of navigation that makes it simpler for online retailers to track which ads, landing pages, or price points drive the most traffic. A brick-and-mortar retail experience is often the opposite. Customers are exposed to dozens of products at once and make purchasing decisions based on a range of factors.
Online analytics allow retailers to adjust their marketing copy, ad placement, or competitive pitch in order to drive traffic. For instance, if many consumers are found to be clicking through to a retailer’s website via a specific product ad, then this product should be featured more prominently on the retailer’s home page. Tracking consumer habits in-store is not as precise, but it's just as instructive. Observing how customers move through the store, acknowledge (or ignore) products, or work with staff all reveals better ways to design the store and calibrate the inventory mix. If customers are found to predominantly veer to the right as soon as they enter a store, for example, it makes sense to display the newest or most popular products in that area.
The sensory experience
Online retail has become a lot more interactive, but at its heart it is still a predominantly visual platform. The goal is to present products in a way that is informative and enticing to the eye. In-store retail, by contrast, is a complete sensory experience. All five senses are at play, and to some degree all of them affect purchasing decisions.
Tracking the visual appeal of online ads is simply a matter of looking at click-through rates. A compelling image will inevitably get more attention than something dull, so ensure your ads include clear CTAs, inclusive language (ie “you” and “yours”) and grab the consumer’s attention with enticing, on-brand colors and fonts. Tracking when and why the senses are engaged in-store is a lot harder, but the important part is to realize that every sense matters. Adding visual appeal with things like digital signage is important, but so too is adjusting the background music, store color, lighting scheme, and air temperature.
The consumer's preferences
There are lots of reasons people shop online, but personalization plays a big part. The nature of online environments makes it relatively easy for retailers to deliver a customized experience to each consumer, using data to build relationships and drive sales. Personalization is much harder in-store, but that’s not usually the main reason why people visit brick-and-mortar outlets. The appealing part is being able to shop in a social setting with friends, family, or like-minded strangers, to receive on the spot assistance, and to try before you buy, which is an important feature of the omnichannel model.
Retailers need to view consumer channels differently, but not separately. The goal of omnichannel retail is not to have a dozen channels branching in different directions, but rather to have them speak to each other, constantly exchanging and incorporating valuable customer data. While this may sound taxing, it’s easy to achieve with the right technology in place to properly analyze your consumer data. There are differences between online and in-store experiences, but the retailers that come out on top are those who create cohesive and personalized consumer journeys, no matter which channel the consumer prefers.
iQmetrix leads the charge in technologies built for omnichannel retail and our products house the tools you need to optimize data and analytics. Want to learn more about how you can influence the customer journey to benefit your bottom line? Meetup 2018 has all the inside intel your business is looking for.