Digital and in-store experiences are more intertwined than many may think

Have you ever stood in a store, trying to decide if a purchase is worth it? Chances are, your smartphone and a quick Google search drove the ultimate decision to buy or not.

You’re not alone.

According to Bazaarvoice, many consumers research an item online while standing in a store, looking into reviews from other people to make the split-second decision. As people’s trust in online reviews has risen, so too has the need for a robust, customer-centric online presence.

Think about it:

1.) We, as consumers, have an incredible amount of data, analysis, opinions, and reviews available with a few touches of a screen that we carry around with us 24/7.

2.) Nobody likes buying something, only to discover it’s a waste of money

3.) Habits are hard to break. The habit of checking things online is already ingrained, and will likely continue to grow.

Of course, thinking about a problem is one thing. It’s much more productive (and enjoyable) to come up with solutions.

Brick and mortar stores can tie together their digital and in-store experiencesIdea #1: Offer in-store exclusives.

You’ve likely had this happen to you: You’re shopping online for an item you need, and see the dreaded “in-store only” text.

Here’s the thing: If you know it’s an item people want, and at a price they’ll jump for – you can leverage it.

Let’s take an example of a bakery. If they discover they have too many cookies in stock, they may want to clear some of it out. Leveraging online to promote “Stop by for a $0.25 cookie!” is a great way to make people think it’s worth the trip – and the bakery gets more foot traffic, which often leads to higher sales of other items.

Idea #2: Encourage people to use their (social media) voice.

Social media has transformed how we communicate, and it gives any customer the power to be a content creator. It also makes us believe our voices and opinions have more merit than they did in the pre-Facebook era.

Have signs encouraging customers to document their experiences and tag your brand. Use a hashtag your company uses in its content. Give them something for free (a holiday treat?) that makes them feel special and want to tell others.

Idea #3: Connect online reviews to the real world.

Have actual customer reviews on display for particular items to draw people’s attention to them. This works especially well for higher-value items, as people tend to take longer to decide whether to purchase.

For example, buying a jar of peanut butter at the grocery store might take 30 seconds. But buying a car? That’s typically a weeks-long process to make sure you get the investment right!

Highlight interesting items that make your store unique. Cite the sources of each review so a customer could find it if they wanted. A bonus: Show how you took customer feedback and improved your product, which shows you’re paying attention and can allay some customer fears in the moment.

There’s no reason to separate the in-store experience from the digital one. In fact, as AI and VR continue to expand and mature as industries, the gap is only going to lessen. Take control, and make it work for your business to drive more sales!

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