Hopefully, by now, it’s pretty obvious to say that your brand should have a digital-first mindset when it comes to marketing. For just about every B2C brand, the digital world is where you need to meet your customers because that’s what they increasingly expect. That means making your marketing strategy revolve around connecting with those customers digitally, via your website and channels like email, mobile push, SMS, and social media.
But that doesn’t mean the in-store experience is irrelevant. Far from it. Even if we’ve moved into an era where in-store might not be the primary means by which your customers engage with your brand, it’s still an incredibly important piece of your overall marketing strategy. That experience needs to be a major part of your thinking too.
The question, then, becomes how to align in-store and digital in a way that makes them feel seamless. Because customers don’t think of them as separate. Both of them are you. If one is out of sync with the other, customers will quickly notice, and it will negatively impact their experience. Here are three examples of ways you can ensure the in-store and digital experiences are aligned.
Customer service goes digital
One aspect of in-store shopping customers like is the ability to get quick, expert help whenever they need it. There’s a real, live human being nearby at any time, ready to answer questions or help with whatever issue the customer might have. That matters, and it can be tough to replicate in the digital space, which can feel a bit sterile and self-serve at times.
Communication channels like email, SMS, and social offer a way to bring the customer service experience into the digital realm, though. With email and SMS, make sure recipients can reply with any questions or problems. This can give them a lot of peace of mind, especially if you respond promptly — and be sure to set expectations with an auto-reply that tells them when to expect someone to respond. On social, the reply can be even faster, and can lead to a natural conversation if done right.
Send follow-ups after an in-store purchase
It’s easy to connect online purchases with your digital channels, but it’s just as important to tie in-store purchases to your customers’ digital experience. Of course they should have the option to receive their receipt via email, but there’s more you can do in many cases.
In the spirit of being helpful, there’s content you can send the customers upon an in-store purchase. If someone buys a grill, you could send them a guide to summer grilling and maybe some recipes by a top chef. If someone buys golf clubs with adjustable weights, you could send them tips on how to use them to improve their game on the course.
These can seem like little things, but they’re easy ways to connect meaningfully with your customers and show them you’re paying attention via digital even when they’re visiting your brick-and-mortar store.
Let people sign up for “Back in stock” alerts
This is another one that can be easy on the website but can take a few more steps in the store. Obviously, you should reach out to other nearby stores if you’re out of stock in an item someone wants; maybe you can do a quick store-to-store shipment and get their item within a day or two.
If not, though, they should be able to sign up for email or SMS alerts for whenever that item is back in stock at your store. This is going to be one of the most-clicked emails you send — and it’ll have a very high ROI — so it’s a no-brainer to set up a system like this. It does take a bit of coordination between in-store and digital, but it’s well worth it.
And take advantage of that high click-through rate by making other recommendations. What does your data tell you other people who bought this item also buy? See if you can lead the customer to make another purchase or two while you have their attention. It’s what you’d probably expect your in-store employees to do. And these recommendations are based upon real data from other customers.
While keeping your mindset digital-first, it’s important to continue to ensure the in-store and digital experiences with your brand are very much in sync. These tips are just a few of the ways you can keep the customer experience aligned throughout their journey, no matter where they’re engaging with you along the way.