Do you also shop with a smartphone in your hand?

Do you also shop with a smartphone in your hand?

Last week I was in an apparel store, where a female customer was trying numerous dresses, blouses, and trousers. The shopping assistant was bustling around her, bringing new and new items, making style recommendations, and when the girl finally liked the dress, the assistant invited her to pay. The girl bursted into laughter. “I’m not paying that much for a dress,” she said. “You’ll discount it in a month, and I’ll buy it in your online store for half of the regular price. Now I know it fits”. And she left.


The shop assistant tried to argue that the dress might be sold out to that time, but the consumer was unmoved. She knew her ways to have a nice garment for an affordable price, and that involved oscillating between online and offline store.


Today, there is no brick and mortar. No ecommerce. The only thing left is the intersection of the two. Empowered with mobile web access, contemporary consumers move between online and offline, researching products on the web to buy them in a physical store or visiting shops to try the product because they prefer to search for the best price online. You need to act cross-channel and integrate various channels to create an amazing and coherent experience.

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It’s called ROPO (research online, purchase offline) or showrooming (reversed ROPO).


The question is, what marketers should do to address that behavior shift? It presents several challenges, such as:

⁃    maintaining communication consistency

⁃    collecting all customer data to obtain actionable, reliable analytics

⁃    increasing sales.   


Let’s analyze some examples.


On the Go Mobile App (Sephora)

Sephora understands how female customers shop: they want to try the product and to research it (check the ingredients list, reviews, opinions). That’s why the brand created an on the go mobile app. Customers often use it in brick and mortar store to find information about the cosmetics.

A new add-on also allows to try on various lip colors instantly: the app utilizes smartphone camera to map users’ lips.


Interestingly, Sephora was rather a late adopter to mobile (according to Gisele Abramovich), but its success is a result of addressing non-linear customer journey.  


Online app (VOX)

VOX, a Poland-based furniture and decorations producer, tried to encourage customers of an online store to participate in face-to-face consultations in the brick and mortar stores. To achieve that, they build an app called VOXBOX in which customer can design her furniture. Thanks to the integration of the app with SALESmanago Marketing Automation, afterward each user gets an email with the project she developed using the app with an invitation to the physical store and consultations. Projects are also sent to assistants in physical stores, what makes meetings much easier both for consumers and staff.


In other words, one can design home interior at her own pace in the app, take time to choose the best solutions, and when she is ready, an appointment with a consultant is scheduled. Then the professional decorator helps to execute customer’s idea.


Want to learn more? Read case study.


Beacons (Kung Fu Panda)

According to Business Insider, in 2014 only 3% of companies tracked the offline behavior of their customers, but 72% of them declared that they will start to do so in 5 years.


What is a beacon? It’s a tiny device that runs on BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy). You place them in your brick and mortar store, office or salon. Then you wait for customers who have your app installed on their mobile devices. Beacons communicate with the app, sending information about its own ID, signal strength, and additional data.


When compared to app-only campaigns, beacons allow establishing customers’ localization more precisely. Using this technology, you can see what store areas user visited or even what products has she picked up.


Using beacon integrated with an app you can monitor consumers’ offline behavior, combine this intelligence with data about online activity and send personalized, 1-on-1 messages, such as push notifications with special offers, additional info or discount. You can also create amazing gamification campaigns with that tool.


According to Internet Advertising Bureau, 66% of marketers agreed that location-based advertising is the ‘most exciting’ mobile opportunity for 2016, and many companies use beacons to tap into this opportunity. For example, London advertising firm Exterion Media placed beacons in buses to target commuters with engaging ads and content.

Kung Fu Panda 3 was promoted that way via Shazam, music streaming app. Shazam app searches for beacon signals. It detects it when you board the bus, and then it displays a movie content.

That way you see the ad when you commute (ergo, when you’re bored and search for entertainment or plan the evening), not when you’re busy at work.

Also, you can book your Cinema ticket in the app.


To sum up: how to address ROPO?

The bridging online-offline gap becomes a burning question: consumers love to look for savings and best deals, so they explore every channel. They also can’t live without their mobile apps. The conclusion? Use apps or apps combined with beacons to deliver an amazing experience. Target precisely the audience, so they get the offer in the best place and the most suitable moment.