In February, we launched the 2014 Marketing Imperatives, a blueprint for marketers trying to tackle the vast challenges and opportunities of today’s omni-channel environment. A centerpiece to the Marketing Imperatives is the vital concept of Audience Platforms, which has come to the forefront in our marketing lexicon. Simply stated, these Audience Platforms are where customers are congregating, and in the digital world, that means platforms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, etc. These Audience Platforms attract and retain people and enable marketers to reach them -- not just as a segment or a market, but as known individuals.
For retailers, these external platforms are interesting in terms of the opportunity to reach and attract customers within the omni-channel environment. However, the real retail audience platform, the one that retailers care the MOST about is … drumroll (headline gave it away) … the STORE. Although digital channels receive most of the buzz these days, physical stores are far from losing ground. To truly succeed in an omni-channel world, online and offline touchpoints need to work together, scaling up and down based on consumer needs.
The ability to enable addressability that results in consumers coming to the store (or in some cases coming back to the store) is where marketing dollars are going to be spent. There’s an interesting article published in Business Insider around the trend of “webrooming.” It’s actually not a new thing. It dates to the beginning of the internet. There’s been a lot of press about “showrooming” cannibalizing retail store transactions; where customers browse in the store, scan the barcode with their Amazon app, and ultimately end up purchasing the product online. Webrooming is the opposite; where consumers do their research online and then go to the store to purchase the product. Webrooming is actually a larger and more commonplace activity than showrooming. Retailers are looking to capitalize on this by:
- Enabling a consistent customer experience across online and offline;
- Integrating customer data with purchasing capability and a common order management and inventory management platform for both POS (offline) and e-commerce (online) transactions;
- Enabling omni-channel interaction models (buy online, deliver/buy online, pick up in the store/buy in the store, deliver/buy in the store, pick up in the store/reverse logistics for all of these models)
The store is where you (the retailer) have most of your capital tied up. It is where the majority of your costs are located -- and they are the physical manifestation of convenience, customer service, and brand that defines the value proposition for any retailer. So, as we talk about Addressability at Scale -- we can’t forget the importance of the store for all retailers. The secret lies in converging the digital platforms with the physical platform -- to create personalized and engaging experiences at every touchpoint.