5 things retailers need to do to win at cross-channel

Remember when your grandma clipped coupons? Sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee, scissors in hand, then organized her spoils by expiration date. Today, that behavior is so much an outlier, it’s got its own reality show.

Today’s retail consumer doesn’t jump through hoops—they don’t shuttle from store to store looking for a deal, they don’t print out receipts to return an online purchase in-store and they expect the cash register to know all about their past purchases. They expect a seamless transition between their physical and digital brand interactions. In fact, they demand it. To them, it’s just shopping, whether it’s in-store or on smartphone, tablet or phablet.

At the Digiday Retail Summit in Half Moon Bay, Calif., last week, Bounce Exchange gathered a host of retail marketing executives trying to navigate the blurring lines between online and in-store retail.

Here are the five most important obstacles retail marketers said their brands face when creating the store of the future:

Maintaining a consistent brand image

If there is no internal rallying cry for your brand, now is the time to create one.

What does your brand stand for? What are its strengths? Its weaknesses? Is your rallying cry emotional and believable, both internally and externally?

The more channels you introduce to the market, the more difficult it becomes to maintain a consistent brand image to the consumer. And it starts internally.

For example, if your brand is known for superior service, your consumers will expect this same level of service online. A 1-800 number will not suffice.

In the past, brand champions monitored television and radio. Ah, the good ol’ days. Now, retailers must maintain a consistent brand image in-store, throughout traditional media and at every single online touchpoint — including social media, of course.

Creating cross-departmental “synergy”

Now is not the time to worry if you’re late to the online shopping game. If you’re reading this, you’re late. But the fastest way to jump-start your organization is to define your strategy and business goals, communicate them clearly, and then implement it with passion across all departments.

Enter that dreaded marketing cliche: Synergy. It’s a terrible word, but its one we need now. (Hint: Don’t use it at cocktail parties for fear of scaring away actual, non-marketing humans.)

How do you get there? First, make sure all teams understand that improving sales—not assigning credit— is goal number one.

This may take an entire infrastructure update, but more often than not, brick and mortar teams have completely separate goals than online teams, and never the twain shall meet. Frightening. Separate goals create separate strategies, and separate strategies create inefficiencies and infighting, not improved sales.

Certainly, this challenge is quite possibly the most difficult to overcome, but its the most important. You may face a 12-round bout, but its time for the gloves to come off.

Creating the ideal customer experience

You can’t please everyone. Especially online.

And the difficulty with blurring the lines between your physical presence and digital presence is predicting how one experience will affect the other. For example, will same-day delivery impact the in-store customer experience? And by how much?

Successful customer experiences come from understanding your core customers and how they interact with your brand. These are tough inquries that require investment and resources, especially regarding in-store research.

If you have a brick-and-mortar store, know what customers want and expect in your stores, then find ways to replicate this experience online.

If you have an online presence, know how your customers interact with your brand. Especially their online shopping habits, which can be improved through behavioral automation.

For example, $4 trillion worth of merchandise was left sitting in online shopping carts in 2014. There are proven solutions to shopping cart abandonment, and proven methods to increase your online conversions.

Find these fixes. Implement these behavior automation procedures.

Hunting down your marketing ROI

Media fragmentation has created a difficult environment to track marketing efforts in order to show how each impacts your overall business.

Multi-device targeting, apps, podcasts, traditional media, the big three social media sites — the fragmentation continues to grow.

Not to mention: where does social media fit into the marketing mix?

It all starts with data.

Only data and advanced analytics can properly measure omni-channel attribution,. And getting that investment approved is still tough. (Ask your CFO if she knows what “marketing attribution” means.) But its critical.

With the proper resources, you can find where conversions are coming from. You can dig in and see where your marketing dollars fit into your conversion process.

For example, if social media is receiving astronomical views, but it’s not converting, then shift your marketing strategy towards another acquisition channel. (Continue supporting social media, of course, but look at it as a purely engagement channel for now.)

The same tactic works for mobile. Are your customers purchasing through their phones or simply browsing? The answer can greatly affect your ROI.

Once you define your metrics, you can start tailoring your goals to create the ideal marketing mix that converts. Then, test again and reshuffle when necessary.

Know thy mobile audience

When your CMO pals brag about having a “robust mobile strategy,” ask them to take a lie detector.

Many retailers today are treating mobile as an exploratory step in the sales funnel, as opposed to a completely separate channel.

Why? The majority of mobile shoppers are browsing.

You must delve deep into your mobile traffic and understand what it’s whispering to you.

Once again, it comes down to sales. Are your mobile users shopping through their smartphone and purchasing on desktop? Or are they converting right there on their phone while watching “The Voice?” (Lucky you.)

Much like the social media discussion, retailers must understand if mobile is a conversion channel or an engagement channel. And then appropriate the resources and effort accordingly.




More from Digiday

How CTV and DOOH are growing this political season for smaller agencies

Connected TV and digital out-of-home are playing a bigger role in upcoming elections and politics – especially for smaller agencies looking to place clients’ dollars.

CMO Strategies: Advertisers identify the top attributes on ad-supported streaming platforms

This is the third installment in Digiday’s multi-part series covering the top ad-supported streaming services and part of Digiday’s CMO Strategies series. In this report, we examine which ad attributes matter the most to marketers on streaming platforms.

In the marketing world, anime is following in the footsteps of gaming

As marketers look to take advantage of anime’s entry into the zeitgeist, they might be wise to observe the parallels between the evolution of anime as a marketing channel and the ways brands have learned to better leverage gaming in recent years.