Melding the Offline and Online Shopping Experience

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

online-offlineThe internet has proven itself to be a power engine for commerce. Just about every business owner and marketer is aware that they can use the internet to sell items online or encourage people to visit a physical store. However, a recent report from eMarketer shows that to truly take advantage of online marketing, business owners need to meld their offline and online shopping experiences. This post will look at some the findings of the report and show examples of this melding in action.

The internet helps businesses on both sides of ecommerce. According to eMarketer, 78 percent of US online consumers have made a purchase in-store after browsing for a product online. Clearly, traditional internet marketing works for offline retailers. It works in reverse almost equally as well. The same eMarketer reported noted that 72 percent of US online consumers have made a purchase online after browsing for a product in-store.

Showrooming is often considered to be the bane of brick and mortar retailers. However, as more businesses develop ecommerce solutions, having people go into a store to decide what they’ll buy isn’t as much of a problem as it was just a few years ago.

Google’s Industry Director of Retail Specialty Scott Falzone described the situation by saying “[Retailers’] interest in digital is increasingly focused on driving customers and shoppers into their store locations, as well as continuing to have a growing eCommerce and mobile commerce presence.”

A recently announced collaboration between Samsung, Sony, and Best Buy illustrates how brands can take advantage of showrooming. Samsung and Sony will soon be opening special stores within Best Buys where consumers can come in and experience the products they want to buy from the brands.

“With user-friendly, interactive demonstration experiences and a dedicated team of product experts trained to deliver a world-class experience, the Sony Experience at Best Buy will be an ideal place to inspire, engage and educate consumers about Sony’s home theater products,” said Mike Fasulo, president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics, in a statement.

Merging the offline and online shopping experience takes effort on the part of the business. In essence, the company’s internet marketing will need to run two programs at once. A system to inform and bring customers to the physical store and a different program to assist customers while they are shopping.

“The majority of stores are just learning how to [sell] online…the next step is how do they take the online and meld it in with the store experience to enhance them both,” stated NPD Group analyst Marshal Cohen.

Merging online and offline shopping experiences will be come more important as consumers become more accustomed to buying things online that they used to buy in-store in the past. As was mentioned in a previous article on this site, Deloitte reported that 60 percent of consumers want to buy consumer packaged goods products from more categories online in the future and that 61 percent of consumers buy more consumer packaged goods products online now than they did last year.

According to estimates from the eMarketer report, US retail eCommerce sales will rise by 15.5 percent in 2014, which should amount to a $304.1 billion increase. Business owners would be foolish to ignore the potential of ecommerce, but it’s equally dangerous to disregard the way that internet marketing affects in-store sales. Taking the effort to meld online and offline shopping experiences will increase the overall profitability and long-term viability of a business.

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