Retailers are still adapting to the economic fallout of the pandemic, paying especially close attention to how they can migrate parts of their in-store experience to online engagement.

But that doesn’t mean the in-store experience is over with. While foot traffic may be down, consumers still want to purchase from retailers that they traditionally purchased from in-store. The challenge is to both meet COVID-19 best practices and deliver an experience that engages customers, rather than an experience that customers barely tolerate.

So what can retailers do to serve customers online and reinvigorate in-store shopping at the same time? Quite a lot if you leverage technology and an e-commerce platform built to capture customer data respectfully.

Identify Customers In-Store

Everything a retailer wants to do begins with data and, more specifically, customer identification in-store. For many years, brands spent a lot of time and money on creating and maintaining customer profiles, often acquiring the same customer both online and in-store.

Clearly, being able to identify an existing customer in-store saves a brand time and budget, but it also improves the customer experience when the retailer already knows who the customer is, what she’s likely to purchase, and the specific channel she prefers.

Cue Clothing Co.

Australian retailer Cue Clothing had an e-commerce platform in place before the pandemic, but the consumer shift to digital demanded that retailers quickly merge online and offline data to keep customers engaged online. With 85% of their revenue generated in-store, the brand had to move nimbly and lean on automation, email, and social media. This allowed Cue Clothing to leverage their data (purchase history, frequency, and preferences) and announce an online “warehouse sale,” which brought in revenue when many other retailers were stumbling to adapt to changes in consumer behavior.

Gebrüder Götz

In Germany, e-commerce retailer Gebrüder Götz deployed the Emarsys Loyalty program to identify existing customers both online and in-store. Integrated into their customer engagement platform, the loyalty program enabled the brand to identify 50% of customers when they used their loyalty membership cards, across all online and offline channels. In the future, Gebrüder Götz can more seamlessly offer pre-sale access, membership-only exclusives, and top-level VIP customer care.

Optimize Ad Spend to Serve In-Store Customers Best

Digital advertising is a murky proposition these days as targeted marketing has mostly followed the consumer shift to digital. With so much focus on e-commerce, what does that mean for brick-and-mortar advertising?

The trend is a hybrid of e-commerce and retail, where consumers buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS). By targeting online shoppers, whether through desktop or mobile, a retailer can use a range of strategies that entice customers to shop.

Merging offline and online data, the marketing team can optimize ad spend for a better return on marketing investment (ROMI). For example, City Beach, an Australian retailer, used their first-party data to better target customers in a personalized way and nudge them in-store.

“When you do get that customer online, that customer can actually be pushed back in stores through, you know, whether it’s like email or remarketing or pushing local inventories, like the options are there. But, yeah, it’s working out how to attribute a store sale for a digital kind of investment.”

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Mike Cheng
Head of Digital, City Beach

Build Ongoing Customer Relationships with Clienteling

Clienteling depends on data to build long-term relationships with customers. Rather than leaving an in-store visit to a mobile app on a customer’s phone, a retail sales associate could use a mobile point of sales (POS) to gather preferences that enhance the customer’s shopping journey. This is the human-to-human personal touch a customer doesn’t receive by shopping online.

Retailers can provide shoppers with info on inventory, so that even if a product isn’t on the shelf, the retailer can inform the shopper whether it’s in the back room or at a distribution center and how soon they can get the product they want.

From the customer’s point of view, clienteling doesn’t focus so much on the sale at hand. Instead, it’s more like a personalized consultancy where retailers can build future individual experiences, by serving up relevant content and incentives in an increasingly personalized way. This often leads to revenue growth as customers, who feel the in-store associate is really trying to streamline the shopping experience in a tailored way, are likely to put more in their carts and come back to shop more frequently.

Gebrüder Götz seamlessly connected the Emarsys Loyalty Wallet to both their website and their in-store clienteling app. The result was that customers could now access and redeem loyalty rewards in-store just as easily as they could online.

Keep Your In-Store Customers Engaged with a Loyalty Program

Just because consumers are staying home these days, regardless of lockdown restrictions, that doesn’t mean they don’t want to shop in-store. The problem is that many consumers just don’t like the inconvenience of long lines to get inside a store and to check out.

One proven way to mitigate this uncertainty is to adopt a loyalty program. A brand that implements a loyalty program can generate up to 18% more revenue per year.

Loyalty encompasses your best customers. Those who shop with you more often will receive a more personalized experience. You can easily do that online, but the challenge is finding opportunities for loyal customers to come in your store. Discounts aren’t always necessary here (or wise in the long run as you shrink your margins to keep pace with competitors and train customers to wait for incentives to purchase).

When retailer Gebrüder Götz implemented their loyalty program, not only did they give their most valuable customers the attention they deserved, but loyalty significantly improved their collection of customer data and identified existing customers in their brick-and-mortar stores.

Previously, the brand had used cashback vouchers, followed by 10% to 20% discounts, but neither strategy led to long-term engagement, plus the discounts ate into their margins and didn’t lead to customer growth.

But when Gebrüder Götz launched Emarsys Loyalty, the brand implemented a points system and made rewards immediately available after a purchase. This led to more purchases, and the brand received +10% in average cart values in the first week of deployment.

“The idea of a loyalty program is sometimes intimidating. With Emarsys, we actually had a really quick and easy implementation. We got our customer data into one place, which really helped give us better visibility of our customers. The use cases that were already built into the platform were perfect for what we needed to do as a brand.”

Gebruedergoetz Marcelheck
Marcel Heck
Head of CRM, Gebrüder Götz

Final Thoughts

The pandemic has turned the retail business upside down, but despite shoppers buying more online, they still want to buy from trusted retailers. As long as health and safety measures are taken, consumers want to go back and shop at physical stores for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is brand trust.

Retail must now move to a more hybridized model of online + offline, where all the data gathered through e-commerce can be placed in the hands of a sales associate in a real store serving customers. That’s how you show how much you care about tailoring the experience to each customer.

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