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3 Ways the Cloud Is Integrating Online and In-store Shopping Experience

cloud shopping 

Internet marketing has often been seen as a competitor by brick-and-mortar retailers, but over the past few years, the distinction between in-store and online shopping has become increasingly blurred. Half of adult consumers engage in "showrooming" by previewing a product in a store and then buying it online, an Interactive Advertising Bureau report says. Meanwhile, seven out of 10 consumers "webroom" by previewing products online before buying at a local retailer, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers research. Nearly three-quarters of shoppers are now omnichannel consumers who use multiple channels when making purchases, Medallia says.

As these figures indicate, successful retailing today requires a strategy that integrates the online and in-store shopping experience. Here are three ways retailers are using cloud technology to integrate their Internet and brick-and-mortar marketing customer experiences.

Combining Online and In-store CRM Data

A foundation for integrating online and in-store marketing is collecting and combining customer data from all retail channels. The most efficient way to do this is by using a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) tool. A cloud-based CRM tool can store information collected from all lead generation sources, including websites, blogs, email lists, social media profiles, traditional marketing channels and point-of-sale marketing. Centralized data can then be used to support cross-channel marketing campaigns that engage customers through multiple media.

For instance, customers who first made a purchase online can be engaged through direct mail or telemarketing campaigns. Similarly, customers who first made a purchase in-store can be incentivized to share email contact information through means such as offering a preferred buyer discount for agreeing to opt in. 

Using Mobile Marketing to Attract Local Customers

Another way the cloud is bridging online and local experience is enabling retailers to use mobile marketing to attract local customers. Geolocation marketing is proving to be one of the most effective strategies for local-oriented mobile marketing.

There are several popular geolocation mobile marketing tactics. Geotargeting typically uses a website visitor's IP address to customize content based on the visitor's location. A typical example is customizing the displayed site language and currency to fit the visitor's location.

Another common gelocation tactic is geofencing. Geofencing uses a prospect or customer's GPS location rather than their IP address. A geofence can encompass a broad geographic area such as an entire city, or it can be narrowed down to target prospects on a particular street or in a specific neighborhood.

A third popular geolocation tactic is beacon marketing. Beacons use Bluetooth to target mobile phone users at very short ranges. They can be useful for extending a customized offer to a customer in or near a particular store, or even in a specific aisle in a store.

Offering Omnichannel Customer Service

Another important way the cloud is enabling omnichannel marketing is empowering companies to integrate customer service across multiple channels. A cloud contact center provides a single platform that customer service teams can use to handle tickets originating from multiple channels, including live chat, email and phone calls. This allows a single agent to maintain continuity while assisting a customer through multiple contact channels, or multiple agents can assist a single customer who shifts from one channel to another. For instance, a customer who initiates a call on live chat can be assisted in a follow-up phone call without requiring the customer to repeat the same information they just shared over live chat. This provides for a unified customer experience across all channels, delivering higher customer satisfaction.

Another way the cloud supports integrated customer experience is by enabling in-store customers to request assistance over mobile devices from representatives located in the store. For instance, a customer might be looking online to answer a question they have about product information or pricing. An in-store representative equipped with a mobile device can see the same information the customer is seeing, as well as the customer's purchase history if their store provides access to it, making them better able to assist the customer in answering their question and making a purchase decision.

Published Wednesday, August 09, 2017 2:12 PM by David Marshall
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