From digital to physical and vice versa – switching platforms, while shopping, is a common behavior that characterizes 21st century consumers. In an effort to catch up with this complex dynamics, retailers are revamping their customer engagement strategies.
Deconstructing the concept of customer engagement has never been easy. Paul Greenberg, the celebrated New York Times columnist, however offers a contemporary definition of the phrase. He interprets new-age customer engagement as “the ongoing interactions between company and customer, offered by the company, chosen by the customer.” The emphasis on the aspect of “interaction” is noteworthy, and the glaring absence of the word, ‘digital’ expands its scope, allowing for an accommodation of both the notions of online and offline interactions.
Customer Engagement – the Digital Way
It’s true that digital engagement efforts add immense value to customer experience and offers multiple means of interaction. The efficacy of digital engagement lies in its scalability – a unique ability that traditional form of interactions lack. Accordingly, they end up integrating various digital techniques into their engagement strategies to boost sale.
Let’s consider the examples of social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. These social platforms have emerged as impactful digital engagement enablers in the recent times. According to Kissmetrics – the Bible of online marketers, nearly 61 percent brick-and-mortar businesses now use social media to identify and win new customers.
Over 4 million businesses including big brands and small businesses are using online location-based services such as Google Places and Bing Maps to drive footfalls in their real-world stores.
Many businesses rely on online advertising to boost offline sales. The ‘Humans Go’ campaign by Quaker Oats is a good case in point. The Chicago-based food conglomerate launched a banner ad on Yahoo. The promotion reportedly enabled the breakfast-biggie to reach 156 million users in the US and grab a whopping 1.2 million dollar in short-term sales.
Digital Is Cool, But It Can’t Be the Only Engagement to Be Considered
Given today’s consumers’ multi-dimensional, multi-platform existence, the key to retail success lies in embracing an online-offline engagement-combo. In a digitally enabled world, smart retailing is all about merging real-world with digital platforms; it is all about facilitating an utterly flexible and anywhere-anytime shopping experience for customers.
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Walmart has mastered the art to the perfection. When it comes to successfully blending its offline and digital imprint, the retail giant can teach the world a thing or two. Through its ‘Site to Store’ concept, which allows customers to order products online and pick them up later in-store, the largest retailer of the world has taken customer engagement to a new, exciting height. This Walmart initiative, which strives to combine convenience with the look-touch-feel factor, managed to diminish the fine line between online and offline shopping.
Digital engagement can enhance customer experience and ensure a good return-on-investment for organizations that use them. However, when the goal is to optimize customer engagement, digital-only is not the answer. With customers constantly jumping the platforms, as they interact with a brand, a power-packed engagement program must infuse both digital and physical elements for a true ‘digi-cal’ interaction experience.