Any retailer with one eye on the future should opt for a digital-first strategy. Many successful brands, including Neiman Marcus, have already done so. Why? To better anticipate customer behaviors and engage with them on a deeper level.
In a digital-centric world, customers expect websites to dovetail with in-store experiences. This may not always be the case, however. Retailers run the risk of getting the balance wrong. Both the digital and physical sides of a retailers’ arsenal should be complementary, not competitive. Consider these suggestions to help solidify your digital-first approach:
Start Building for Omnichannel Early
Aim for a consistent experience between online and in-store. As the world relies increasingly on digital interactions, retailers must understand how they can bridge any gaps. Don’t ignore the importance of a connected, omnichannel experience.
Companies targeting a move to digital and big data in 2018 should start building out their omnichannel technology earlier rather than later. The sooner you can connect the dots and smooth out the customer experience, the better. Building omnichannel processes and connections can take years before it gets to where you want it to be. Starting early is important.
In-Store Digitization Key for Omnichannel Experiences
What will shape the future of retail? One big bet may be devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart digital hubs and stations can improve customer engagement…and allow for better in-store experiences that keep customers coming back. Such devices also serve as an excellent point-of-data capture, for both improving customer profiles and supplementing other marketing campaigns.
From devices to strategies, retailers have multiple options with which to improving the shopping experience. Even simple additions (think in-store navigation or customer self-service) can help people shop in a way they prefer. Why not make IoT devices a core aspect of your bricks and mortar offering? It could serve as an important first step towards a truly omnichannel experience.
Inject Personalization Wherever Possible
Personalization connects directly with brand loyalty. The best personalization options draw data from a wide variety of locations—in-store, online, and in-app—to create customer profiles available both to store associates and in-store technology.
In digital marketing, creating personalized collateral remains easier than the in-store equivalent. The latter requires quick and reliable access to data from several different sources. Nonetheless, you can arm your associates with a detailed profile of the customers they interact with. It will provide them with a wealth of information to help tweak their service for each customer. Embracing digital-first strategies is, in some ways, shorthand for embracing data in everyday interactions.
A Digital-First Strategy Focuses on Relationships
Shoppers want to buy from brands they feel understand them. Brands that strive to learn about their preferences as time goes on. A lack of data-first strategy (and thus, data) makes this near-impossible. Capitalize on the information collected through websites and app visits; it will help you to create personalized marketing materials.
Use Digital Data to Reform In-Store Experience
Going data-first shouldn’t mean sacrificing your brick and mortar activities. Quite the opposite. Of course, it makes sense for retailers to improve their eCommerce offering. But it makes even more sense that both online and offline strategies inform each other. A digital-first policy gives companies a wealth of data with which to inform their in-store experiences.