3 ways brands connect the customer experience across in-store and digital channels

Consumers are shopping across both digital and brick-and-mortar channels, which means that brands must find ways to connect the shopping journey. Offering shoppers the opportunity to research products and deals online before entering the store allows them to be more focused when shopping, said Deloitte’s Abigail Slark during a recent presentation.

As brands and retailers adapt to this “new normal” in terms of the shopping experience, they are evolving their digital offerings and better ensuring that consumers are able to navigate across channels. Check out the following examples of how brands are connecting the customer experience between brick-and-mortar and digital shopping.

1. Creating a continuous journey

Rather than differentiating between channels, some companies are creating a continuous journey between physical stores and the online environment. “There is no online and there is no offline,” said Hershey’s Doug Straton at the company's recent Analyst Day. “If you think about these businesses as binary choices, then you completely miss the point in regards to digital,” he said.

Coca-Cola is another brand aiming to bridge the gap between traditional retail and digital. “We’re entering a new chapter as a company, a chapter of digital transformation,” said Chief Digital Officer David Godsman recently, in comments reported by Bandt. The company is deepening its customer relationships and eliminating any white space that previously existed between the physical and digital worlds, he said.

2. Asking consumers to engage

Connecting consumers to brands online doesn’t just means that the brands must be the only side engaging. Some companies have seen great success asking consumers to take part in the brand experience.

For instance, plant-based food business JUST offered its fans a web-based script of what to say when calling retailers and asking them to stock JUST’s products in stores. The consumer action campaign prompted thousands of fans to take part in the program.

Other brands are engaging fans by using social media contests where consumers can enter hashtags that connect them to brands digitally. For example, Nestle Waters asked fans to enter its social sweepstakes via Twitter and Instagram as part of its “SummerSlam” event. Other CPG firms are attracting shoppers with digital coupons, which have been proven to influence shopping behavior.

3. Optimizing data

Brands and retailers can more readily capture shopper data by engaging with consumers, and it’s important to use that data to create tailored, personalized campaigns. Some retailers and brands are optimizing their use of personalized mobile offers, typically rooted in data, to connect the e-commerce and convenience store shopping journeys.

In addition to utilizing data from their own analytics, brands should also optimize the use of data that other firms collect. For example, Instacart research demonstrates that almost three-quarters of conversions are derived from results that show up in the first row of search results, Internet Retailer reported. Brands that know that information will work harder to perfect their digital strategies so they can meet consumers wherever they choose to shop.

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