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Online-to-Offline: Best Practices for Driving Omnichannel Engagement

September 09, 2015 ByStaff



Shoppers today expect a synchronized online-to-offline experience. However, many retailers struggle to integrate the digital and physical shopping journeys. While there is no single path to omnichannel success, retailers can learn new how-tos by reviewing tactics implemented by other top retailers.

Here are three exemplary brands that are seamlessly turning crowds of online browsers into in-store buyers:

1.) Meet and greet your online social community offline

To drive its Pinterest following into local stores, Nordstrom not only installed larger-than-life wooden Pinterest showcases, but also adhered Pinterest-branded labels—hangtags, cards and clips—to the products that received the most online engagement. Additionally, they developed an app that enables sales associates to view popular pins and match the items to the store’s inventory.

Ultimately, the testing phase of the Pinterest campaign was successful. It not only drove an online community to offline stores, but informed merchandising decisions and increased visibility around customers’ favorite items. Ultimately, the online-to-offline campaign was rolled out to all 117 Nordstrom locations.

2.) Clicks to Bricks: Turn an online shop into an eBoutique

What’s an eBoutique? At Marks & Spencer, a British multinational retailer, it’s a tiny, technologically-advanced showroom where browsers can touch and order merchandise while “trying on” clothes via an interactive “virtual rail,” or digital closet.

The eBoutique is part of Marks & Spencer “click ‘n bricks” strategy in the Netherlands. Unable to ignore its sizable online shopping audience, the retailer launched the creative eBoutique as a means to test Holland’s brick-and-mortar market. Ideally, the store will draw some of Europe’s most internet-savvy shoppers into a physical store. The eBoutique, along with a new website, represent Marks & Spencer’s first step toward building a loyal brick-and-mortar customer base in a market that, at one time, existed solely online.

3.) Empower sales associates with mobile

Today’s relentless digital influence makes it difficult for sales associates to keep up with customers who research products online before they enter the store. This is why many forward-thinking retailers — such as, REI and Bloomingdale’s —have begun using mobile technology to keep staff informed and agile throughout the selling process.

Whether a customer uses an iPad to ask for a new size while in the dressing room, or an associate presents alternative products for comparison, mobile devices will undoubtedly help sales associates bridge the online and offline divide, and drive in-store conversion.

When it comes to omnichannel retailing, the options are infinite. And, as evidenced by the examples above, there’s no single recipe for success. To bridge the online to offline gap, start by reexamining what you already know: your customers. What do your customers value in your brand? What types of online behavior do they exhibit? When do they buy, and when do they not? Ultimately, retailers should leverage this type of customer information to devise an omnichannel strategy that capitalizes on shared shopper habits and interests.


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