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The last decade has been a watershed for global retailers; with the adoption of new age digital evolution successfully transforming shopping behaviours of buyers globally. As a matter of fact, the digital maturity of consumers has pressed the accelerator rings of retailers to reinvent buying experiences of the two worlds, one being the dynamic online multi-screen domain and other being the traditional offline space.

As e-commerce continues to grow exponentially, retailers are aiming to win the race by amplifying marketing effectiveness and optimizing conversions through omni-channel marketing – seeking to offer a more personalized shopping experience to consumers.

Today, buyers are largely influenced by the ease and comfort of online shopping during their shopping journey. That said, various studies have shown that consumers switch between online and offline mediums before making purchasing decisions. And, this altering consumer behaviour has pushed retailers (who run both e-commerce and in-store channels) to invest in new realities.

Chief among these are smartphones that are eventually becoming a must-have during the shopping cycle. As per a recent study by Google, 95% of smartphone users conduct local searches on search engines; with 50% of these users who conduct information searches are most likely to visit the store within 24 hours; with 18% of all local searches converting into a purchase. The study also highlighted that maximum local searches involved location details of the local store, in-store product availability and business hours among others. Stating that location (of the customer and retailer) is an integral part of omni-channel retail and in the absence of right local-retail based insights, search fails to play a tangible role in digital marketing strategies.

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Point in statement is that retailers can now make use of online channels to attract shoppers to the store by seamlessly integrating search, location data management systems and discovery with omni-channel retail marketing. To start with, it’s quintessential for retailers to understand customer profile and preferences by analysing demographic, online browsing and search habits, most-visited store locations and frequency of visits etc.

Simply put, by monitoring and analysing location-centric insights received from POS systems, direct mail, in-app, social and online data among others, retailers can assist shoppers starting from deciding which product to purchase, to finding out where to buy it, availability of in-store inventory, to eventually going out there and buying it, or buying them online after visiting the store – essentially engaging with customers to drive sales.

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Since, location is a key element in omni-channel retail, retailers should now be empowered to find answers to the following questions in order to optimize their marketing strategy. For instance,

  1. A customer’s frequency of visiting the mobile site of the retailer
  2. Does the customer conduct a search on price comparison sites
  3. Which is the most visited offline store of the brand
  4. Does the customer click on the ads of their most visited store
  5. How often does the customer make use of search to understand the availability of a product in a particular store
  6. Does the customer prefer shortlisting the product in the online space and later picking it from the nearest store (after trial). And, more!

Such questions when answered can help retailers to seamlessly connect and integrate online with offline marketing strategies that can further drive in-store visits and subsequent sales. With increasing focus of brands towards a consumer shopping journey, retailers can easily offer products that a customer may like owning or are possibly searching for with an assurance of availability in a store nearby.

In point of fact, integrating omni-channel retail definitely presents a huge opportunity for retailers and undoubtedly one of the best ways to smoother the path of customers to get to the brands front door. To start with, retailers must closely monitor and analyse purchasing trends and behaviours of shoppers across all channels in the online and offline space. Precisely, focusing on understanding customer needs and providing them with the relevant information on all local search queries.

The lesson here for retailers is to create a seamless shopping experience by optimizing for consumer location, preferences and shopping behaviours; providing right localized information, product details and in-store availability; and periodically engaging with consumers across all channels.

Note: The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views held by Inc42, its creators or employees. Inc42 is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest bloggers.