In-Store Conversion: So Close, Yet So Far
This article was originally written for CMO where it was published on December 18, 2015.
We’ve all been there: that moment when you walk into a store and it looks nothing like the ads you’ve seen. You can’t find what you’re looking for, and the sales associate gives you that deer-in-the-headlights look that lets you know you’re on your own.
So much for a quick stop. What happens next? Well, if you’re like around 90 percent of consumers, you simply turn and walk away (Oracle). After all, you have options—lots of options.
This scenario is representative of a huge problem facing CMOs who rely on brick-and-mortar retail as a major channel to market. Often, little is done to ensure that expectations set for consumers via advertising translate into the actual experience. This ends up frustrating consumers and impeding, rather than simplifying, their paths to purchase. Marketers forget that their campaigns should extend to physical store.
What’s the damage? Consider the following:
1. The retail store remains critical to a brand’s bottom line: According to a study by A.T. Kearney, more than 90 percent of all purchases in 2013 were made in a retail environment. Additionally, more than 50 percent of all online retail sales were captured by retailers with physical stores. In today’s increasingly competitive landscape, these stats are evidence of a growing need to focus on in-store marketing and to make a statement in the “sea of sameness” that plagues the retail store.
What’s more, as the one place for consumers to touch, feel, and interact with products, the store remains at the heart of retail, representing a final decision point for them to buy or even switch brands. It also offers marketers one of the only opportunities to largely control how consumers experience their brands and intentionally manage their paths to purchase. Coupled with the right mix of mobile and retail technology/digital elements, the in-store experience could be a game changer.
2. The store significantly impacts consumer conversions: In addition to controlling the largest share of retail sales, the retail store also plays a large role in consumer conversions. In 2013, research by POPAI showed that 62 percent of all in-store purchases were unplanned, once again highlighting the importance of carrying advertising spend all the way through the final experience to help convert consumers while in-store.
3. A poor in-store experience carries a hefty price tag: The impact of a poor in-store experience tallies into the millions–and more. In-store marketing is the best way to capture the consumer at the point where they are most willing to make a purchase decision. With the majority of purchases and purchase decisions happening in-store, ignoring this opportunity presents huge risks in the highly competitive state of retailing today.
To help convert and guide consumers along the path to purchase, marketing campaigns should be holistic ventures that carry advertising promises all the way through to the actual experience. After all, why spend dollars to convince a consumer to choose your brand, and then hand them over to the competition at the finish line?
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