Online to Offline

It’s the first year I will be attending Mapic and I am genuinely excited to be meeting the biggest representatives of the European Retail Real Estate industry in the wonderful city of Cannes.

For Mapic 2016, the central theme will be “Online-to-Offline” a popular topic in the industry. There has been numerous online retailers to open offline stores, a well-known example of online to offline that has recently emerged is Amazon’s book stores. But, why in a world where online is becoming the future, is an offline presence so important?

For retailers, offline strategies have numerous benefits; they can create an innovative consumer experience which is becoming increasingly important; build brand personality and benefit from increased visibility. Having a store in a shopping centre also allows retailers to benefit from the shopping centre footfall and gain consumers that they may not have done before.

It is thought that millennial consumers today have a much shorter attention span; research has proven the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, or around the time the mobile revolution began, to 8 seconds. This has created a great challenge for marketers; due to the consumers agitated attention, retailers now need to create eye-catching, appealing products and content to entice consumers to engage with them. By solely relying on an online presence, retailers are faced with the challenge of their consumers being tempted, and able to quickly change websites. Having an offline presence helps overcome this obstacle as it gives retailers the opportunity to make an experience and keep them engaged with the brand and in-store for longer.

The consumer decision-making process involves technology, regardless if the consumer is in-store or online. Consumers can quickly check other store prices and stock levels before they make a purchase using their mobile phone (they can also check you, so it is important your online and offline message is consistent). This means, retailers need to create an experience that entices a consumer to shop with them, because we know they can quickly and easily find and buy the product in the cheapest place if it was all about price. However, millennials want an experience, which includes store design and atmosphere, consistently great product quality, a sense of exclusivity and the knowledge they are getting a deal.  This is where the phrase ‘experiential shopping’ has originated from, and the same experience needs to be delivered across all platforms.

Data analysis has become invaluable; it has allowed retailers to create innovative strategies to show individual consumers, targetted products to entice them to make a purchase – do the same offline and you will engage your customer in store and increase sales. 90% of sales in the US still occur in real shops,  this statistic is not unique, this is a common theme nationally demonstrating that although many consumers research products online, when it comes to making the purchase they visit physical stores. Having an online and offline presence is critical in order to target consumers and market your products effectively – ultimately driving sales!

Creating an omni-channel experience is vital for a strong brand image and to keep up with competitors. Consumers are not only online shopping on a desktop, but also on their mobiles and apps. They can, and expect to be able to browse and purchase anything, anywhere. That said, the physical shopping experience is clearly not dead and is here to stay, consumers enjoy the shopping experience so it is becoming crucial for retails to have both an online and offline presence in order to be visible and to meet consumer demands and expectations.

Isabel Ruiz Halter, Consultant, International Shopping Centers, Foundation Recruitment

Foundation Recruitment - London

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