Using online insights to enhance your offline shopping experience

By Danny Ireland

Now that lockdown’s easing, one of the big debates to open up is how the high street will re-emerge.

The sale of traditional department stores, Debenhams and Arcadia Group, to the upstart online clothing retailers, has led some to predict that the high street will simply not be the same again. Has the last year or so of living online changed our behaviour for good? Will our towns reflect that change?

That all remains to be seen – but what we’re really interested in is whether businesses can take what they’ve learned online over the past year and marry their insights with how they sell offline.

A more refined online experience 

During the pandemic we’ve had numerous companies speak to us about getting them online. These companies had bricks and mortar stores and showrooms, but didn’t really see the true value of their website until their doors had to close. So they pivoted online and, with nowhere else to go, their customers followed.

But it’s not enough to simply be online. You have to provide a great user experience to ensure it’s easy for them to take key actions (or conversions) – like downloading brochures, booking appointments, or purchasing items. Here at Launch we don’t just drive traffic to websites, we also carry out user experience audits to optimise the journey to conversion. We then suggest changes that ensure users can navigate and purchase in the easiest, most effective way.

This is a good, standard practice – especially when your physical store can’t open. But with the high street opening back up, businesses need to make sure that the user experience they’ve refined online over the past 12 months continues into their offline offering.

Marrying online with offline 

Your online presence is more important than ever for customers to not only find you, but understand your brand, and engage with your content. The only change is how the customer checks out. Your website and online sales will still be there, of course, but there will always be customers who want to get your product in their hands first.

One of the seamless examples of blending online and offline comes from none other than Amazon. The shopping giant’s new hair salon amps up the classic salon experience with augmented reality and QR codes that enable customers to shop products they’ve tried, having them delivered directly to their homes.

It’s impressive stuff, and while these are heady heights for most brick-and-mortar stores, it does give us an interesting glimpse into just how frictionless the future could be.

How do you manage the shift? 

Make sure your online and offline experiences are consistent, for a start. From there, you can build on these experiences using data, customer feedback and your knowledge of behaviours in your store. Ask yourself how you can reduce barriers, offer more convenience and provide necessary information your audience is looking for.

Ultimately, our key message to businesses is don’t think of offline and online as separate entities anymore. They both require brand consistency and a great experience to be successful – whether your customers are browsing online, or in an aisle!

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