Overcoming (Yet Another!) New Challenge for Omni-Channel Retail: It’s Time to Connect the Marketing Dots

I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for retail executives that are required to keep pace in a highly competitive, fast-moving market in constant flux. Just staying aware of emerging threats, opportunities and challenges must be daunting, let alone actually addressing the changes. So I must admit I hesitate to add fuel to the fire by penning a post that suggests there is yet one more thing for retailers to consider in the strategic planning processes. But fear not: because while I do indeed raise another challenge, I believe that the perceived challenge actually represents an opportunity for competitive advantage that can (relatively) easily be leveraged.

What, then, is this mysterious opportunity masquerading as a challenge, you ask? There is little mystery here. You know it well.  As an industry, we encounter this challenge every day, perhaps even thousands of times a day. In fact, despite knowing the problems our actions will create, we enthusiastically embrace the challenge and we knowingly perpetuate it. We perpetuate the problem almost every time we send a promotional email. We perpetuate the problem every time we leverage advanced re-targeting technology to push banner ads to web browsers, and we perpetuate the problem almost every time we push promotional offers through Facebook, or Instagram, or Snapchat or Twitter.

Related: Customer Engagement and Loyalty Trends Retailers Can’t Afford  to Ignore – Retail Touchpoints’ 2017 CRM Outlook

The problem that we perpetuate through digital marketing is the problem of lost sales attribution. When we publish web advertisements, or when we send emails or social media promotions to people, and they click through to landing pages that track their behaviors, we can easily attribute the transaction to the original promotion. However, as consumers incessantly hop between digital and physical channels, we too easily lose any continuity between the digital offer and the resulting transaction in the physical store.

As consumers incessantly hop between digital and physical channels, we too easily lose any continuity between the digital offer and the resulting transaction in the physical store.

The minute we lose that continuity, we also lose the ability to attribute the in-store transactions to the source promotions that motivated the purchases. With over 80% of most purchases still being transacted in the store, and with the vast majority of shoppers walking into the store with a smartphone in their pocket, the consequences of all this missing attribution can be enormous. Because when we fail to attribute in-store purchases to digital motivators, we lose sight of key metrics that fuel our ability to enhance and enrich the shopping experience with relevant, personalized promotions.

If we can’t accurately measure the effectiveness of a digital promotion or advertisement; if we can’t track who was motivated to purchase; and if we can’t analyze holistic performance metrics across all channels, our ability to personalize offers is, by definition, diminished. And when our personalization efforts are diminished, our ability to break through the noise created by the millions of “spray and pray” offers currently flooding shoppers’ inboxes, feeds and timelines is also greatly diminished.

When our personalization efforts are diminished, our ability to break through the noise created by the millions of “spray and pray” offers currently flooding shoppers’ inboxes, feeds and timelines is also greatly diminished

However, the good news is that there are new tools that can help connect the dots between digital marketing and in-store transactions. Tightly integrated Commerce, POS and CRM solutions can help untangle and strengthen the threads between digital and physical channels and generate metrics that shine a light on the correlation between digital marketing and in-store sales.

And for those that are the first to truly connect the dots, breaking through the noise to more consistently connect with shoppers represents a significant opportunity to differentiate.

To learn how Aptos’ Singular Commerce platform integrates the customer into the entire enterprise to help you connect the dots in your business, click here.

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