November 20, 2018 - By Manu Mathew, CEO, Nielsen Visual IQ
A version of this article first appeared on Internet Retailing
The rise of digital has transformed the retail landscape. Today’s retailers have the power to connect and interact with consumers wherever they are via a range of channels, both online and offline. In fact, 83% of adults now own a connected device and use it to browse the internet, send email, interact on social media, and shop for products online.
Global e-commerce is taking off. According to Statista, In 2017 it reached around $2.3 trillion and is expected to hit $4.5 trillion in 2021. In the US, ecommerce represents almost 10% of retail sales. In the UK, retail ecommerce is expected to reach almost £94 billion this year, with online sales accounting for a fifth of all retailing in the UK.
However, these figures fail to illustrate the whole story. While consumers may start their journey on one channel, the path to purchase is both digital and physical, as consumers often go back and forth between the two before making a transaction.
For retailers, bridging the gap between online and offline, and delivering a seamless experience across all channels and devices, is crucial.
Delivering a consistent and engaging experience can be tricky in a multi-device landscape where consumers use mobiles, tablets, desktop, and watch TV – often at the same time. There is an urgent need for retailers to embrace digital transformation. The failure to keep up has been cited as a reason for the decline of predominantly brick and mortar stores such as Toys R Us.
Research shows UK consumers expect to be able to combine online and offline shopping:
This situation has made things complicated for marketers who need to allocate budgets effectively across channels to achieve success in a highly competitive climate. Brands can no longer disregard influences along the way and assume the customer journey started where the transaction took place. To do so risks missing out on vital chances to reach potential consumers and capitalize on key moments of opportunity.
To achieve marketing success, today’s retailers need to connect the online-offline dots to see what exactly is driving sales. This means piecing disparate online, device and offline point-of-sale data together for a more comprehensive, end-to-end view of the consumer journey that bridges digital and in-store experiences.
Technology has created a huge opportunity to leverage data to make smarter decisions. Many marketers are turning to multi-touch attribution to get a more complete, people-based view of the consumer journey across digital and offline marketing channels, as well as the ability to measure and optimize their marketing and media tactics based on their online and offline impact.
Multi-touch attribution enables retailers to move beyond measuring behavior in separate channel-based silos. It creates a privacy-compliant persistent ID that links a person to their devices and browsers for a de-duplicated view of their cross-channel, multi-device journeys.
More advanced solutions can even integrate offline addressable marketing touchpoints (e.g. direct mail, catalogs) and conversion events (e.g. in-store sales, call center transactions) at the user-level to produce even more accurate views of the consumer journey across all channels.
Leveraging this holistic view ensures credit is more accurately assigned to all the marketing touchpoints that influenced digital or offline sales. Retailers can then use these insights to allocate spend to the best performing channels and tactics, and better optimize the omni-channel consumer experience.
Following the implementation of GDPR, which gives consumers greater power to opt in or out of a brand’s messaging, UK retailers may have access to a reduced volume of consumer data to use for multi-touch attribution. But the data retailers do possess reflects the behaviors of their most engaged customers and prospects, who have specifically opted in to receive their communications. This data may be even more valuable than the vast data pools they had before.
In today’s landscape, retailers must be open to transforming their business if they are to get – and stay – ahead. But equally, they need to consider how consumers are interacting with brick and mortar stores.
To succeed in these changing times, retailers must combine online and offline marketing strategies and consider the effects of all influences on the path to purchase. By obtaining and connecting data across all online and offline touchpoints, marketers can effectively allocate budgets, optimize campaigns, and make informed cross-channel marketing decisions.
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