For the last few years, consumers have regularly blamed ecommerce and the “Amazonification” of the world for the constant stream of brands teetering into bankruptcy. Bold headlines have raised the profile of these bankruptcies. But what the news doesn’t report on are the underlying reasons why they are struggling, or the brands that have thrived in this new world due to their increased ability to reach customers in the moments of greatest impact.
Moving to a customer-centric strategy
There’s no quick fix or streamlined decision process to reach today’s retail customer. You can’t simply rely on having a lot of strategically placed physical locations or a well-designed website. Consumers today sit at the intersection of physical and digital commerce.
To succeed in this new world, brands have to change the way they think about their retail ecosystem. They need to merge physical locations with digital experiences and adopt a channel-agnostic experience that places the customer at the center.
To start, ask yourselves:
- Who are we communicating with now?
- What does that communication look like over time?
- How do we want to evolve?
You can’t simply rely on having a lot of strategically placed physical locations or a well-designed website. Consumers today sit at the intersection of physical and digital commerce.
Then, devise a strategy around your new communication and business model. Brands that don’t take a step back often piecemeal their strategy together and encounter challenges for capturing consumer data, making sense of it, and working backward to create a customer-centric approach to their business.
Blending digital with brick-and-mortar experiences
It’s no longer a question between online and offline, but rather seeing each transaction as the union of both.
Your customers are thinking:
If I see a shirt I love in an email or on a display ad, I should be able to click through to the ecommerce site, search for a location “near me,” check inventory, and even reserve the item by placing an order for in-store pick up. Then, I can go to that location and try the shirt on before taking it home.
Expectations have evolved to a point of requiring alignment across touchpoints. Digital is king when it comes to driving consumers through each stage of the brand journey. With an integrated strategy, retailers can expose new customers to their brands, retarget those who are loyal, and drive everyone to purchase.
However, brick and mortar is the cherry on top when it comes to the final purchase decision. People still want to see and experience the items that they are considering, and having human interaction is crucial in building a strong brand-client relationship.
It’s all driven by customer data. If you’re able to see customer sentiment or behavior shift, you can much better grasp on that movement early on and make decisions to change your business to meet customers where they are—on any platform or in any physical space.
Taking a page from the luxury brand book
If you want to find true inspiration to drive in-store traffic, look no further than the luxury sector. With inventory that begs to be experienced in person, luxury brands have focused for years on personalized experiences that seamlessly integrate both offline and online interactions.
Luxury watch manufacturer Audemars Piquet even created a “click to try” experience, allowing clients to fill out a profile, book an appointment, and visit the store for a concierge consultation. This not only entices customers to visit the store, but also maintains the allure of the brand.
As you consider how to better engage customers throughout the purchase journey, take time to evaluate how consistently your digital and in-store experiences align. By placing your customer in the center of the experience and updating your strategy to include every digital channel and physical location as touchpoints along the journey, you’ll increase opportunities to grow your business.