Offline becomes Online in the new digital universe

The rush to digitise our experiences – from facial recognition at airports to Amazon’s checkout free grocery stores – is a harbinger of a world where just about every consumer experience will be expressed digitally. And whilst we can and should debate the ethics and privacy concerns of that end-game it is a world that as marketers we need to understand – quickly.

Customers are simply expecting that their offline and online experiences should be seamless. Customers come into a myriad of purchasing situations with the backing of online research and expecting that you (the brand) have likewise been collecting customer data – albeit in a legal manner. And they don’t really know or care about any challenges you have had in bringing that data together.

So the challenge for Marketers & the CX profession is to first understand how online metrics can be introduced to traditionally off-line customer behaviour.

The most obvious examples are in retail (refer Follow the Shopper, Follow the Money) where a combination of bio-metrics (e.g. facial analytics), internet of things (e.g. beacons) and interactive interfaces are capable of collecting just about anything that moves. A bit like a catalogue of solutions looking for problems.

And that’s where the creativity comes in.

You could think of movement through a store as a traditional sales funnel – from those that move from the high street into a store, dwell in certain zones, have a store visit duration (sales cycle) and either purchase or not (close the sale). With a whole lot of contextual data about the customer and the transaction to add to the mix.

With some creative offers you may even find that some (younger?) customers are prepared to have their faces recognised for loyalty offers. This alone would turn the “loyalty” industry upside-down.

Or it could be merchandise that goes into a basket and back again (with detected movement); or that digital shelf facings are aware who is about to move into a zone – and adjust the call to action.

The general point is that if it moves it will be detected and if it can be digitised it will. We have moved from transactions to telemetry.

And marketers will have to bring an online mindset to the metrics – because they will look very similar. So for example the Store Manager will be reviewing items like:

  • Shopfront conversion rate – of the passing traffic how many entered the store (clicked through to landing page)
  • “Bounce” rate – % of those who entered the store but did not stay long enough to purchase
  • Dwell time across in-store zones
  • Visit duration
  • Repeat customers
  • Sales conversion rate – of those that entered the store how many purchased (click though conversion)

Sound familiar?

The payoff will be the first end-to-end tracking of customer “journeys” where the massive disjoint between online/offline is removed and insight way less siloed. The online/offline worlds will be at least be speaking the same language – even if they have different dialects. This can only add more value to CX or NPS programs where context (like end-to-end journeys) is so critical.

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