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Retailers Optimising on a Mix of Online & Offline Marketing

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The recent trend shows that the boost in online purchases is pushing retail stores to take the online medium to boost their revenues. Marketers today are realising the importance of integrating their online and offline marketing strategies with both complementing one another when it comes to customer engagement. Social media is a big enabler here. Brands are deploying advanced tools to monitor conversations on social media in order to acquire a deeper understanding of customer needs, preferences, and purchase behaviour.

A significant number of retailers are showing the willingness to optimise a mix of online and offline tactics to garner maximum customers. Businesses would be foolish to ignore it as a channel with a substantial route to market. However, whilst there is a lot of money to be made online, this option has its own share of negatives.  It is worth considering both the pros and cons of online retail (think websites, online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, and comparison sites) versus a traditional ‘brick and mortar’ approach so that you know what you are taking on and can plan your business accordingly. Online stores provide businesses reach to the ever-increasing population of consumers who are using the internet for their purchase needs.

Research has shown that most of the people first search for a product online and browse for a store location there before travelling to the store for the purchase. Online retailers are finding that consumers, who initiate a search online, after being exposed to an offline ad, are converting into a sale at a much high rate than those who come to their site through an online media channel.  With e-retailing, the brands benefit from the click stream data that provides details along the way a consumer shops. This helps the brand in understanding their consumers better, thereby manufacturing products and services that suit customers’ requirements. Also, websites and promotional e-mails generate business not just for the company’s online channel but also for its offline stores. Many online retailers are utilising a combination of offline media including direct response television, print and radio to drive online sales. This style of direct marketing campaign is often referred to as a ‘drive to web’ campaign.

Offline marketing is the opposite of online marketing. No business should assume that because they have a website people will know about them. One must keep in mind that not everyone uses computers nor does everyone searches for business outlets in their areas on the internet. Including your website address on your sales receipts, letterheads, and advertisements will help people to know that you are on the internet. Offline marketing has to go hand in hand with online marketing, as it has its distinct advantages. Businesses that have not invested in setting up their websites are losing to get more visibility to potential customers and those that are completely dependent on the internet are losing the aggressive competition. People gravitate towards businesses that they can make a positive association with and the only way of achieving this is by using offline marketing tools. Contributing positively towards the community in your area will go a long way in helping you gain more trust in the community and in return more customers.

Sometimes, a consumer can shop online and make a purchase just with a few clicks. Maybe they are replenishing, maybe they have no questions about the product, or maybe they are content with the online customer support they received.  Meanwhile, another consumer may need to visit a physical store. They may feel the need to touch and see the product they are considering before making a purchase. For retailers deciding how to allocate marketing spend, the debate is becoming increasingly complicated. How much should one spend online and how much should be invested offline? Here’s my advice: Leverage your data so you know your customers. Track your progress. Analyse your results. Successful marketing is well-planned marketing and these days, good planning requires optimising a mix of online and offline tactics.

So yes, it is like the two sides of the same coin. Online gives you a wider reach with people who can access the internet and understand technology while offline is relevant for those who cannot think beyond the traditional way of touching and then buying the product.About the author:
Manoj Gupta is co-founder of Craftsvilla.

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