Retail TouchPoints: New Study Spotlights Need to Promote Online Channels In-Store

Discussion
Apr 18, 2012

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.

According to a survey from Bronto Software, websites were found to be the most promoted digital connection promoted at physical stores, followed far behind by QR codes, social networking programs and e-mail solicitation.

Detailed in the report titled Continuing the In-Store Conversation Online, Bronto executives visited 131 retail locations across industry categories, including apparel, accessories, department stores, electronics, health & beauty, and jewelry, to explore how stores were leveraging e-mail, mobile and social in creating a seamless shopping experience across channels.

Websites were the most promoted online channel (58 percent), with the storefront window being the most popular area to spotlight advertising. QR codes came in second, with 21 percent of retailers utilizing this method to provide immediate access to content, including videos, subscription forms and product information. Overall, 37 percent of all QR codes were placed in store windows.

"If marketers can find ways to link codes to different scannable content, adoption rate will go up, especially if companies communicate the value of scanning," said Jim Davidson, manager of marketing research for Bronto. "Then, we’ll be able to learn how QR codes can impact revenue as well as customer acquisition."

Social networking accounts and initiatives were spotlighted in only 16 percent of locations and even at those stores Bronto found a lack of compelling calls-to-action. Advertisement methods mainly consisted of just posting Facebook logos. Said Mr. Davidson, "Retailers must look at their in-store messaging strategies and see if they make the value of participating clear."

Only 11 percent of stores promoted their email programs although industry analysts point to email as one of the "stickiest" forms of customer engagement. With associates finding it "awkward" and "intrusive" to ask customers for e-mails at point of sale, some brands have avoided this issue by inserting a prompt in credit card scanners that will display a few key bullet points about the email program and ask if they would like to join. E-mail initiatives can also be promoted throughout the store via QR codes and SMS campaigns.

"Retailers must utilize new methods to expand the acquisition efforts of their email programs," Mr. Davidson reported. "Isolating this process to the register is really restrictive and takes up too much time."

Discussion Questions: How aggressively should cross-channel connections — websites, QR codes, social, e-mail, etc. — be promoted at physical stores? Which digital connection should stores be particularly promoting at the store level?

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15 Comments on "Retail TouchPoints: New Study Spotlights Need to Promote Online Channels In-Store"


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Joe Nassour
Guest
Joe Nassour
10 years 1 month ago

The store should be just another access point for the consumer. That means you should promote everything at the store, websites, QR codes , smartphones, mobile apps, etc. You want to avoid being a connection desert.

Consumers expect that you will make their lives easier. That means what they have access to at Starbucks or McDonald’s they should have access to at the store.

Adrian Weidmann
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

Designing and implementing a synchronized cross-channel strategy is imperative. The store is a critical piece of that cross-channel strategy as it is where you can both literally and figuratively ‘touch’ your shoppers and customers.

Providing education and information to other touchpoints is vital to create an ongoing, personal and relevant dialog with your customers — before, during and after their visit to your store. These digital touchpoints are not one-dimensional. They must be synchronized and aligned to provide a consistent brand message and the more your shoppers/customers interact, the more and richer the information and rewards need to be in order to provide a continuum on the path to loyalty — that beyond just purchase. Your customers will choose the ‘channel’ most relevant to their search for ‘surprise and delight’, so making certain all channels are promoted and synchronized is imperative.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

The observations make sense — everyone lets their customers know their web site addresses, but the conclusion doesn’t make much sense to me, frankly.

That’s like saying displaying a store’s street address in the window or on the door is a “promotion.” It’s for informational purposes, not promotional ones. And I’m not quite sure they even need to put the web site address in the store anymore in any case. It’s sort of a late 20th century artifact. Today’s advanced search engines will find the web site address more easily, and the customer won’t have to write anything down. And consumers simply expect that every retailer will have a web site. So what’s to promote?

A more interesting question is “how do retailers create a single brand identity across all customer touch points?” It’s obvious that they need to.

Ken Lonyai
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

There’s a reason it’s called “integrated marketing.” Every channel must intelligently cross-promote every other channel to form a holistic, minimally intrusive brand message.

It’s not about being aggressive, it’s about being useful to the customer. If a QR code links to helpful content that adds value to a purchase decision, it makes sense. If it links to a mobile web page that is a sign-up form for a company mailing list — likely failure.

The most common technology mistake made by companies is deploying too much or too little, rather than deploying the “correct amount” and correct applications to achieve targeted benefits.

Ed Dunn
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

What I find awkward in my experience and research is the whole notion of redirecting the in-store physical customers to an external virtual online destination.

I think Starbucks figured it out and got it right. Starbucks uses 2D codes displayed on a mobile app to make an in-store transaction purchase from a prepaid account on the mobile phone.

Home Depot is experimenting with mobile checkout as well as integration of PayPal in their self-checkout stations.

They are bringing the technology inside of the store and using these technologies to streamline the sales process.

Redirecting customers to external web sites, telling them to like on Facebook or scan a QR code that redirects to a web site while the customer is in store just doesn’t sound right.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

The answer here is really, really simple. Customers don’t think in terms of channels and that means retailers need to follow their lead or fail.

As long as these “channels” are managed independently sale will never be optimized. Retailers only succeed when they begin to think like their customers and adjust their sales strategies accordingly.

Kenneth Leung
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

There should be cross channel connections in the store for online assets that can be easily reached on the consumers mobile device or in the receipt. Twitter, Facebook are easy for customers to sign up on while they are inside the store. Web and email addresses are probably more appropriate in the receipt.

Mark Heckman
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

I believe that integrating both the identity and the functionality of a retailer’s online offerings within the physical store is critical. Given that many of the online offerings of most retailers still reside outside the “mainstream” of the marketing and merchandising programs, linking online benefits such as digital coupons to more traditional offerings such as end-cap displays, private label sales, etc., should be very attractive to those shoppers who are exploring both digital and physical ways to save.

QR codes and NFC technologies can enable this interaction and serve to not just add awareness of the retailer’s online presence, but also provide an immediate benefit of engaging the retailer across multiple touch points.

Gordon Arnold
Guest
10 years 1 month ago
Web sites are an extension of the store itself. They contain no distraction from competition or extraneous interruptions like sudden pop-ups. When a visitor enters a website the host has complete unfettered command of the experience. This empowerment separates success and failure in any modern-day retail business and if not taken advantage of and properly exploited, will be the reason listed for most business failures in the near future. If a present day company wishes to gain significant sustainable market share, a web site with desirable content which is very easy to navigate is a must. Likewise, it is mandatory to advertise the site for participation to begin and grow. The fun in this is the amount of flexibility we have in the development of these fields. The presence of many quality third party IT companies allows for even the most inept decision makers to participate successfully. These companies are valuable in several ways. They can work with almost any realistic budget to begin and expand cost effectively. And they have up to the minute… Read more »
Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

How does detailing what channels are used by most retailers provide useful information? Which of those channels are consumers using for what products in what kind of situations? At this point every retailer needs to be experimenting with alternative forms of message transmission and collecting metrics so these questions can be answered for their consumers. Following what other retailers do is not a strategy for success.

Martin Mehalchin
Guest
Martin Mehalchin
10 years 1 month ago

An aggressive multichannel strategy is an imperative in today’s retail landscape and just promoting your website is not nearly enough. Traffic to sites and portals is declining on a relative basis while social’s share of online minutes is soaring. Retailers need to be developing and promoting a compelling social experience for customers. Finally, store associates need to get over any feelings of awkwardness around obtaining customer emails, the customer always has the option to say no, thank you.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

Training the store employees to ask for email addresses in a more comfortable way, like, “Can we email you your receipt?” works for some innovative retailers. Yes, I believe stores should promote their presences in other channels. Encourage shoppers to browse those channels and submit feedback often through them. It’s typically much more productive and less expensive to maintain the virtual channels and make changes on-the-fly, than in store.

Tom Redd
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

With the new generation of shoppers, every channel should be accessible to the shopper no matter where they are. So even if they are in the store or at home (making sure inventory is available at their favorite location of a retailer’s stores). This is the way the shopper wants it — and the shopper owns retail.

Matt Schmitt
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

We still see many cases where retailers are simply repurposing their marketing methods for use in the store. Most traditional messaging through other (non-store) channels is about getting customers to the store. The challenge is, once they are in the store, to speak to them with an experience and messaging that helps them in their journey.

Also, promoting their other touchpoints (e-commerce site, mobile apps, social media) is an important aspect of creating post-store engagement. But just telling the customer about these channels is not enough. We should explain to them clearly and concisely the value proposition — why should they care to engage through the available channels?

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
10 years 1 month ago

Yes, there will be more food information apps becoming available. There are shoppers who are trying to eat “healthier” and/or manage food allergies, and the right apps could really help shoppers make better choices. Trying to determine if a product is right requires precise definitions and further information — all usually available on a website somewhere. Making good info available in-store would be a very valuable resource for these connected shoppers, providing new potential to drive loyalty and brand awareness. Much work to be done here, but transparency, simplicity, and execution critical.

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