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How to combine online and offline customer experience

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Most SMEs nowadays operate both online and in the physical world. To cater to customer experience, companies have to provide sources digitally and physically to do business here and right now. Like customers, SMEs choose what they do in each channel, with varying effect, mainly determined by answers to questions such as;

  • Are customers mainly browsing online or in-store?
  • Where are the products and service located physically?
  • Where is the customer's attention grabbed? What happens next? 

O2O - online-to-offline marketing means strategies that aim to move the customer from online into a brick-and-mortar store, and vice versa. The key thing is to provide customer with the product and service at the right place at the right time for them to put an action on it, whilst providing an enhanced and consistent experience through their buying journey.

Your own unique experience

Today's customers operate in a multichannel environment which SMEs have to respond to such challenges. To succeed today, SMEs need to meet the customer exactly at the right point in time in a way that feels natural to the customer for him/her to engage with the SME. This means that the quality, tactics, campaigns, content involved must stay consistent at all times across all channels.

If your online resource is inefficient or not user-friendly, it doesn't help potential customer when making a decision whether to buy online or in-store. If your APP doesn't capture the user in a way that resonates with them, or doesn't have the features and functions to engage or convert the customer in a natural way, chances are the customer will just drop out, until the next time the customer chances upon another channel deployed by the SME.

So doing all channels well and adequately and connecting them to each other goes a long way towards providing a seamless experience for the customer.

Therefore, after each contact point, SMEs should ensure the customer experience can move on the next phase of their buying journey in a natural, uninterrupted and seamless direction. The key is always the next step. SMEs can ask themselves;

  1. Where will the customer likely go after looking at this product online?
  2. Will it help if the SME provides the customer this and that at this point of the process?
  3. What will motivate the customer to move to the next step? 
  4. How can I capture the customer's information naturally so that they can remain engaged with us? 

Motivate the customer to leave their contact information and let automated message chains to direct them towards the first purchase. Is a visitor enjoying an event – urge them to follow you on social media, contact you directly, ask for feedback and direct towards buying process slowly but surely.

10 Tips to move between online and offline

There are many ways to capture customers online and moving them offline;

  1. Offer Online coupons to the physical store via SMS, email marketing, push notifications from applications or on Facebook
  2. Offer discounts and offers based on customer's movements in a shopping centre 
  3. Advertise based stock availability, target the message based on customer's needs for this product
  4. Run Newsletters on Emails - it's still effective in the western world
  5. Offer possibility to pick-up in-store at a discount
  6. Provide on-demand product/service fulfilment capabilities to send product or service, both online and offline, immediately after payment is made
  7. Offer possibility to return products to a physical store
  8. Offer possibility to pre-pay or buy credits or gift cards to be spent on products or services
  9. SMSes still works - test the effectiveness of messages during SMS campaigns
  10. Create an online shopping facility at the physical store so that users can follow and browse products seamlessly

Regardless offline or online - Customers contact details are paramount

Regardless of which channels are deployed, the key is to extract customer's details and have them leave their contact information. Some ways to have customers' leave their details are;

  1. Offer something for free in return for contact info
  2. Register and login to an APP or website using their Social media or personal contacts
  3. Run affiliate program to have third party provide recommended customers details in return for profit share or a fee

Today's technology now allows companies to acquire customers broadly, cheaply and rapidly.

There are 2 reasons why its important to move the customer online - after they have made their purchase.

  1. A digital customer is less costly than an in-store physical customer
  2. A digital customer will always stay engaged with the SME unless they opt out intentionally 

Offer Product and Service Reviews

According to a 2015 survey, more than 90% of consumers use their smartphones while shopping in retail stores, while more than 50% of consumers use their devices to search for product information and reviews. Some of the things that physical stores can do include;

  • Equip your store with displays where customers can browse the webstore selection
  • Offer free in-store Wi-fi that requires logging in and provide suitable services and offers straight on the login page
  • At the start of an event, let the participants know on which social media platforms they can follow your company
  • Provide the possibility to make purchases at the store using cashless and offer survey options after payment to record real-time feedback. 
  • Offer an easy way or tell the customer where to find product reviews for the products or services
  • Suggest customer to join an SME's membership club, subscribe to a mobile campaign or sign-up to a newsletter at the counter – and offer a discount or a gift as an incentive
  • Equip the store with visible signs to follow the SME on social media
  • Guide your customers to a campaign website from a direct mail campaign

Customers experiences today comprises of many multifaceted paths that evolve so differently against one another, so its not even easy to manage them concurrently at the same time, let alone providing an effective experience that resonates.

However today's technology allows many of these work to be automated, tracked and analysed so that experiences and results can be improved, driven by data from real customer insights and behaviour.

Identifying the customer persona and online identity is one of the first steps before customer journey design and development can begin. Machine learning and AI now even allows for this journey to be personalised for each customer.

Contact theAsianIR team to know more about how to automate all these work related to customer journey. With theAsianIR social O2O is a real business opportunity, which can be customised to cater to the targeted audience pool of the SME.

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