Geo 201: Online-To-Offline Marketing Best Practices

How marketers can blend the digital and the physical through the ultimate tool: mobile.

We defined online-to-offline marketing in our Geo 101 series — but how can marketers go a step further to turn an awareness of omnichannel strategies into something actionable? With that question in mind, we introduce our first Geo 201 installment: Online-to-offline best practices for marketers.

Make Mobile A Part Of The In-Store Experience

Marketers are more than aware of mobile’s importance. But in their quest to deliver the right message to the device at the right time, many have overlooked the importance of leveraging mobile not only to drive traffic to a store, but to build an experience inside the store as well.

How does that work in practice? Outdoor goods emporium REI, which reached a new peak in revenue and dividends in 2016, began equipping in-store sales associates with mobile devices in 2014. This appears to have allowed them to look up product information more easily, make personalized recommendations to consumers, and generally stay more informed while moving about the floor to aid in the shopping journey.

Similarly, Rebecca Minkoff has found success with its “connected store” concept, allowing customers to ask for different items via tablets in the fitting rooms, embracing interactive smart mirror technology, and more.

Across the board, the statistics reinforce the importance of incorporating mobile and digital into the store environment: For example, 82 percent of Millennials believe its important for a brand to have physical stores — but the majority of them also use their mobile devices as an in-store shopping aid to research products, read reviews, and even to place orders. Retailers must cater to this shift in behavior in their physical store environments.

Embrace ‘Clicks-To-Bricks’

Popular etailers from Warby Parker to Blue Nile have expanded their online business to include physical spaces that function as part store, part showroom — and the success of this move has been well documented.

But what marketers often miss is that this strategy doesn’t have to be limited to online-only entities. Traditional retailers can and should strategize to control the size of the brick-and-mortar footprint. This can be done by trying out fun, low cost options like pop-up shops or launching digitally equipped showrooms in new markets — rather than immediately jumping to opening a large flagship store.

Personalize Offline Experiences Based On Online Behavior

When it comes to truly bridging the online and offline worlds, mobile data isn’t just useful for improving ad targeting — it should influence what happens in the store, too.

This is the driver behind French Connection’s partnership with fashion subscription service Le Tote. Based on data about what kind of merchandise Le Tote subscribers prefer to buy and/or reorder, French Connection is actively adapting how it presents its apparel in stores. For example, customers placed mobile orders (and made online searches) indicating that they preferred more inclusive sizing of S-L, rather than numerical sizing like 2, 4, and 6. French Connection adapted its dress sizing and reorganized displays to reflect these preferences.

That example comes through a partnership, but retailers should use the vast customer data they already have to build compelling in-store experiences — in addition to personalized mobile ad content. That marriage is drives sales across channels.

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.