The merging of online and in-store customer experience is a theme that has seemingly been on the horizon for years but is now recognized as an immediate necessity in the evolution of CX. The novelty of shopping online has long since passed, and customers today are far more likely to place in-store and online customer experience on the same grading scale. Retail has already encountered this hurdle head-on, and a recent report from IRI notes that CPG is the next industry that must quickly transition to a market in which the line between in-store and online shopping is becoming increasingly blurry.
 
The report, “Build, Drive and Earn E-commerce Growth for Retail Success,” notes that regardless of where the actual purchase occurs, 76 percent of shopping trips begin online. To tap into this potential for engagement, IRI says that building a strong online presence is key.
 
“Best-in-class e-tailers follow a very specific approach to building their retail presence,” added Susan Viamari, vice president of Thought Leadership for IRI. “They have visibility all along the path to purchase, so they know how consumers go about their online search — what makes them tick: product attributes, price/value messaging and so forth — and they need to use these insights to optimize their online presence and supporting marketing programs accordingly.”
 
Like most things in marketing, strong online engagement begins with an understanding of consumer preferences. Beyond crafting a digital interface that displays the information that customers want, CPG retailers looking to bolster online engagement must be able to zoom out and understand how customers move from site to site as well. Brands can never count on customers to actively seek out messaging and instead must predict where customers will visit—and how they will get there—to make the most efficient use of online marketing resources.
 
Sound familiar? These principles parallel long-standing traditional marketing principles, reinterpreted for a 2017 digital shopper.
 
Finally, the report advises, brands need to look beyond outdated metrics, and look at every online page view not only as a potential sales conversion but as a driver of awareness and potential opportunity for future growth, whether online or in-store.
 
Online shopping has proven to be able to coexist with time-tested brick-and-mortar stores, and brands must now examine how they can best tackle both at the same time to create a multi-pronged marketing strategy.

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