It’s no secret the world of retail is undergoing a massive overhaul, and to remain viable in the eyes of consumers, companies must see the value of e-commerce. That’s not to say brick-and-mortar stores will fall by the wayside. In fact, according to a recent Forbes article, the next phase of online retail will revolve around its integration with brick-and-mortar stores. Bringing these two disparate yet related business settings together can create a retail experience that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Delivering an Uninterrupted Brand Experience
At its core, retail is about the customer experience; after all, a happy buyer is a loyal buyer. If you have a good product and can make the buying experience fun and enjoyable, the consumer will come back again and again. But in today’s digital world, the customer journey isn’t always linear. In fact, it’s increasingly taking place simultaneously both online and offline, creating the need for omnichannel marketing. That’s why it’s becoming increasingly more important for companies to deliver an uninterrupted, consistent brand experience both online and through other more traditional channels to drive sales and revenue.
Through omnichannel marketing, companies can create a multi-platform experience so that the buyer’s journey at brick-and-mortar and online storefronts complement one another. Disney provides a great example of omnichannel marketing done right. Nobody can deny enjoying Disney Land or Disney World must be experienced in-person. Yet the company also supports a robust online retail experience, giving park-goers the ability to download FastPasses, make restaurant reservations, and purchase items that can be delivered directly to their hotel room. Much of this activity can be linked to a single account, which will earn consumers deep discounts and rewards.
Integrating Marketing Communication and the Cloud
In understanding the framework that omnichannel marketing requires, the question becomes how do businesses integrate marketing communication over the entirety of the organization? One component is the ubiquity of the cloud. Once solely an offsite storage system, cloud-based technology has evolved into a software-sharing platform that can centralize all of your company’s customer engagement needs. Traditional brick-and-mortar operations are typically compartmentalized, with each department having a defined function.
This makes it hard to integrate marketing communications over an omnichannel network. However, cloud platforms allow you to work and operate from any location with an Internet connection, allowing for seamless, uninterrupted workflow. That means sales, social media and customer care can can be streamlined from a central cloud-based hub to give consumers a more robust buying experience.
Virtual Store and Mortar Internet
According to the National Retail Federation, new technology is transforming the way consumers want to shop, but that doesn’t mean storefront business will necessarily one day be shunned. Businesses, in fact, must looks for ways to blend the two customer experiences to give themselves an edge. Apple is a great example of a retailer that has blended the two experiences so seamlessly that consumers cannot always distinguish between its physical and online presence.
In a bit of circular irony, a user can order an iPhone online using an iPhone, then pick it up at an Apple store. An Apple employee can help set up the phone and instruct the buyer how to access certain online resources. Not only has Apple bridged the gap between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail, it has also knocked down walls and made it into one big global marketplace.