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The In-Store Imperative for Brands in the Digital Age
Posted on August 7th 2014
Customer is no longer a good enough word to describe the many individuals in relationship with a brand. We’ve called them fans and audiences, collaborators and participants, visitors and users, trying to capture the nature of customer interactions in the digital age. But a single word may never be enough, because touch points and opportunities for engagement keep multiplying. The once linear sales funnel is now an evolving, circular process with active and informed men and women entering through various channels.
For example, the customer that sets foot in a store today is a very different animal from the one that walked through the door more than a decade ago. Chances are the customer knows a good deal about your product before approaching a salesperson. The salesperson needs to understand the customer well enough to make broader recommendations (for example, suggesting new designers or accessories to a fashionista). We no longer live in a product-driven world. The customer-centric sell is personalized to unique and specific customer lifestyles.
What Digital Started, Mobile Is Driving In-Store
Since the advent of email and e-commerce, digital technologies have revolutionized marketing and sales. Now, mobile Web and apps across different devices are taking the revolution further than we ever imagined. The impact of mobile marketing and customer engagement on the direct digital channel was relatively easy to grasp. As more and more people purchased smartphones and tablets, companies spotted the opportunity to be in their customers’ pockets and briefcases. But the impact on sales and conversion at stores has been somewhat more surprising: A Deloitte study finds that people using mobile in store “influence $593 billion in retail store sales.” Not only that, they are 40 percent more likely to convert in store than people who don’t use mobile devices while shopping.
Mobile is blurring the lines between sales and marketing. How can the two best engage the mobile consumer both within mobile channels and in store?
Ready or Not, Mobile Is on the Front Lines of Sales
As the sales and conversion process becomes more intimately tied to mobile channels, it is transforming the roles and methods of both sales and marketing departments. Marketing and sales have overlapped, and the two must work in tandem to deliver the kind of seamless customer-centric journey that leads to both short-term sales and long-term loyalty.
Front-line employees are essential to customer experience, grounding the digital promise in personal interactions. Mobile and in-store marketing and sales have an opportunity to collaborate in all new ways. Commerce data released by Walgreens reveals,
… customers who engage with Walgreens in person, online and via mobile apps spend six times more than those who only visit stores. Even those who just use the apps before visiting stores and not Walgreens websites generate four times the sales than store-only customers.
Mobile can transform your sales strategies, freeing you to focus on the customer, not the product. Embrace holistic customer engagement, and gain more opportunities to capture attention, interact, influence conversions, and encourage loyalty. Mobile allows sales to meet customers where they are, bridging channels and delivering hand-picked content personalized to the individual. These trust-building mobile experiences can boost buyer readiness both online and in-store.
Mobile Is Making Sales More Customer-Centric Than Ever
Mobile is helping more people move from deliberation to decision, purchasing, or subscribing right on their device. This is partially because mobile channels simply provide more ways to buy and easy access to product information, reviews, and recommendations. Our mobile phones are our companions. Not too long ago, a close friend might be at our side as we shop, or our go-to source for product recommendations. Now we look at our smartphones for reviews, product histories, brand stories, and other motivators beyond price point.
Increased options, accessibility, and convenience are a boon for the consumer, making mobile technologies inherently customer-centric. But how is the shifting conversion funnel making sales more customer-centric? Companies may see faster conversion rates, or they may witness more visitors leaving them for a competitor. Your brand might watch app downloads spike, only to see no impact on product sales. Or maybe social integrations have your customers sharing brand content like crazy, and first-time conversions are on the rise.
Mobile Gives Brands a Direct, 24/7 Line to the Customer
In the particularly intensive B2B sales process, it has been estimated that 35 percent of representatives’ time is “spent having actual conversations with buyers.” Those conversations make up the critical work of cultivating relationships and closing sales. Yet reps are spending 65 percent of their time just trying to get to those conversations.
Mobile sets the conversation in motion, and keeps it open and ongoing. “Nearly 70 percent of consumers go online before they shop in stores, and 36 percent connect to the Web while in stores.” In effect, brands are allowed to go shopping with their customers, like a trusted friend. The conversation is more interactive and collaborative.
The Customer-Centric Sell Is Worth the Challenge
The customer-centric sell requires us to innovate beyond product-specific sales strategies. Mobile has upended the traditional sales funnel, making the customer journey less predictable. This is forcing companies to pay closer attention to every inch of the winding funnel, patching up leaks and listening to customers’ needs and desires in the moment. Coveted sales maxims—and comfortable ways of selling—have to take a backseat to the customer’s voice. Deliver personalized, relevant content through digital experiences, sales conversations, and everything in between.
This post originally appeared on the Adobe Digital Marketing blog.