3 Ways to Create Offline and Online Holiday Harmony

October 19, 2017

By: Colleen Oates,
Author Title: 
Managing Director
, One Rockwell

There has been a rapid industry shift towards a digital-first sales model. For brick and mortar focused retailers this has resulted in disconnected organization charts. However, studies conducted by Retail Next show that two-thirds of customers made purchases in the last six months that involved multiple channels. “While we’re seeing much more mobile traffic than we ever have in previous years, especially with the younger buyer,” said Michael Osborne, CEO of SmarterHQ, “Our survey found that brick and mortar is alive and well with millennials, and the need for a strong, well-executed and cohesive omnichannel presence beyond online is key when capturing millennial spend.”

As retailers gear up for the holiday season, here the top three areas where online and offline teams can collaborate to achieve a consistently-branded and worry-free holiday shopping experience.

1. Data-Driven Selling

The first step towards holiday financial planning is understanding the mindset and trends of the targeted consumer and delivering a consistent experience. However, online and offline teams need access to the same customer information to create a unified strategy. The good news is, these days, creating a single view of customer analytics is easier than ever.  

  • Identifying one source of truth for customer data is a must to ensure effective marketing and targeted selling. Assessing which platform will be the primary source of customer data (CRM, ERP, POS, Platform) will allow internal teams to have one unified view. Following the assessment of which platform is the primary, a customer “merge and purge” is recommended to ensure no duplications of customer accounts

  • Ensure customer service tools are synced with the customer's primary account. Legacy customer service notes will provide visibility into past customer history, and should be visible to both the offline and online customer service reps.

  • Using already implemented platforms to gather product feedback will allow for a more holistic view of the customer’s product interactions and will allow for accurate messaging. Consider post-purchase surveys, clean data capture within the RMA sections, and social engagement as a means to ensure product feedback is captured and implemented for future target marketing.

2. Relevant Product Merchandising

Authentic product education and accurate style guidance continues to improve with advanced technology. Expectations from digital are established by the high standards in-store sales associates have set when properly educating a consumer on a product usage and styling.

A study conducted by the CMO Council found that 54 percent of consumers would consider ending their relationship with a retailer if they are not given tailor-made, relevant content and offers. According to the study, “A unified view of the consumer is only the first step. One end goal for many however will be using that real-time data to deliver more targeted and personalized experiences across devices and channels. Many studies of shoppers have indicated their desire for hyper-relevant, personalized customer experiences.”

Follow these steps to deliver a consistent online and the offline sales experience:

  • Suggest newer items that pair with previously purchased products. For example, a furniture and home accessory company can help customers to merge new table settings with older pieces for a cohesive holiday table setting. This is a perfect showcase of offline balancing out a rare online experience.

  • Use product attributes and the right content to ensure accurate geo-targeting. Silhouettes, fabrications, color palettes, and sleeve lengths have a big impact on the end destination style choice (different products are recommended for a Palm Springs holiday versus a Miami beach trip). This ensures both product and content are relevant and on trend with the location’s style reports.

  • Pay attention to feeds, filters, and navigation during the holidays. UV sun protection, same day delivery from a local store, stain resistant, and wrinkle-proof for travel are all relevant filters for a last-minute holiday trip. 

3. Unification of Wishlists

Following the trends of social pinning, sharing, and compilation of “dream” boards, the expectations of wishlist engagement have surpassed the traditional heart icon. Whereas digital has made advances in its ability to accurately capture and market a customer’s wishlist items, many brick and mortar brands follow ancient practices of capturing and contacting customers as new items arrive.

The need for harmony between the two channels is ever-apparent. In studies conducted by Deloitte, 66 percent of holiday shoppers in 2016 said they were planning to conduct “Webrooming,” where items are searched for online and purchased in store.”

To ensure a harmonious engagement of the customer, product interactions, and wishlist functionality should be consistent across both channels. Recommended functionality that can be applicable to both channels includes:

  • The ability to notify the gift giver when prices have dropped on a wish-list items both online, via effective digital marketing, and via SMS technology when nearby a local retailer. An oldie but a goodie.

  • Offering relevant size guides when gifters are hesitating around sizing decisions. Additionally, in-store contact information can be incorporated into this pop-up for more one-to-one style and size guidance from a professional. An in-store sales associate can supply the customer with a promotion code to input at checkout if there is a need to document the sale for commission purposes. This can alleviate dialogue over social channels which may not accommodate a real-time response from the retailer.  

  • Syncing visual search with social insights when the recipient wants more “surprise and thought” applied to the purchaser’s gift choice can ensure an aesthetically “on-target” gift. Larger items can be reserved in-store for one of a kind item’s if the gift giver needs to view in person before purchasing and can be tied to a sales associate in the store who has a specialty in that area for one-to-one curation (e.g. furniture vs. carpet).

The overall goal for investment prior to holiday is to ensure that the features and improvements being made to your site are on brand and cater to the customers’ digital expectation. Functionality is not universal per vertical and per target demographic. Engage a hands-on digital strategist to support as you gear up for these busy times, and most of all, ensure custom functionality can be applied to future initiatives, beyond the holiday season. Happy selling!

 About One Rockwell
One Rockwell is a full-service digital agency with exceptional abilities in intelligent commerce, known for building digital flagships and providing creative business solutions and technical direction for fashion, beauty, wellness and lifestyle brands seeking accelerated success in the online marketplace. With clients such as  S’well Bottle, Oscar de la Renta, Mara Hoffman, Juice Beauty, and ABC Carpet and Home, One Rockwell is a true digital destination for serious brands looking for strategic growth. Contact hello@onerockwell.com to receive more information on opportunities for digital expansion in collaboration with One Rockwell’s retail vanguards.