Written by Frank Cristiano on June 12, 2012
in Customer Experience

As an avid online shopper I am quite happy with the digital experience most online retailers provide me: free shipping, no hassle returns/exchanges, a wealth of information about the products and services. However, there’s a gap between the digital and retail experience.

It seems that marketers have developed these experiences separately, assuming that a customer that shops online is one who avoids the in-store channel – and vice versa. This lack of integration between the online and offline experience is present across multiple verticals and puts the customer in a “make-work” position.

Can the digital experience offer something more meaningful for the consumer still interested in making their purchase decisions in the retail channel?

For example, I was recently browsing a local shoe retailer’s website. But shoes are one of those items that need to be fitted for comfort. So the next day I found myself in the retail store – the only problem was that all the research I did online was completely wasted. Not only did I find myself searching racks of shoes trying to remember which pairs I liked – but when I finally found the items I was interested in, only one pair was available in my size. It was frustrating. I went back online – with fingers crossed – I ordered the shoes I wanted. If they don’t fit, Canada Post will have a little more work on their plate next week.

So how can we as marketers help improve the customer experience across channels?

  1. The customer journey is hardly a one-channel affair: Customers engage with different content across multiple channels – and why they do this is heavily dependent on their mindset and the stage of their journey.
  2. Don’t develop your content in silos: Your brand should speak to its customers across multiple channels and the content you deliver in one channel should help support the customer experience in another. Remember, just because you’ve developed content for your website, doesn’t mean that content can’t be useful offline as well.
  3. Understand how your customers interact in different channels: If your website is a great place for research, make sure that its actionable in-store. If I’ve spent thirty minutes online engaging with your website, I expect my retail experience to be a little more hassle-free.

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