The meaning of ‘customer experience’ has deeply changed in the last ten years. As in-store shopping goes down and E-Commerce spending steadily increases, the difference between offline and online retailers is destined to disappear. This will eventually present entrepreneurs the chance to make a crucial step into the digital era, taking advantage of mobile technologies to evolve for a new world. The improvement of retail customer experience passes through an efficient and innovative online retail marketing strategy.

Even though traditional brick-and-mortars and online retailers sometimes still make different entities for studies and researches, we all know that a comprehensive action plan is necessary to respond to the global competition, where your competitor will likely be not the traditional company next door, but the small online start up from China and rising markets. To make it short: in the mobile era, E-Commerce doesn’t mean just a website, as well as retail doesn’t mean just a store.

From 2015 on, you will be required to unify the digital and physical world into an omni-channel strategy, because your customers don’t live the shopping experience as just one single channel. Word-of-Mouth, suggestions and reviews still play an important role in the purchase decision path, but they are not confined into four concrete walls anymore. The result was already clear in Google’s 2013 ‘Mobile path to purchase report’: the smartphone is the most common starting point for product research.

If the smartphone is already the most popular device used to search the Internet, but equally, we can’t ignore the emergence of new - and potentially disruptive - devices like Smart Tv, smartwatch and smart wristband. They all contribute to the replacement of the old passive consumer with the new empowered customer. The Age of the Customer is an era of demanding and well-informed clients, where price and service are not the only qualities required in an innovative brand: experience becomes the key element to succeed.

The focus on digital customer experience is the reason why both retailers and e-retailers will increasingly need a multifaceted marketing plan, able to engage with clients at every touch point, in-store and in mobility. Here are 5 tips to implement your online retail marketing:

  1. Understand buyer’s journey - to really offer what they need when they need it, start by focusing on your potential customers’ decision chain, to analyze what’s most important to them. Use a customer journey map to realize how to exploit different technologies for different touch points (i.e. apps, iBeacons, push notifications).
  2. Become Google’s Friend: there’s no online strategy without Google. You may think that the Big G is just a search engine, but it doesn’t take much to see that Google is your biggest challenge - and best friend - in the online arena. Make sure to keep up with the rapidly changing services they offer, and analyze in real time what’s working and what’s not.
  3. Personalize the shopping experience - the connection between brands and people evolves with technology. To reach higher engagement levels and convert users into customers, you need to consider all touch points, including devices that were out of the map just few months ago (i.e. wearables). The perfect personalization blends together online and proximity marketing.
  4. Nurture your customer community - one time conversions should never be the final aim of your online marketing. Stats tell that loyalty is cheaper than acquisition: it costs 6 times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one. Brand community building, then, becomes priority. To enhance loyalty, use social media, innovative apps and widgets, and new immersive devices (i.e. virtual reality and the Oculus Rift).
  5. Test and experiment: truly innovation-oriented companies set aside a good percentage of their budget to try new tools and solutions. If you keep proposing the same formula over and over, you will probably miss opportunities that could seriously pay off. Mobile evolution is accomplished through Big Data analysis, test and trial. To say it with Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos: “If you double the number of experiments you do per year, you’re going to double your inventiveness”.

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As practical advice: if you want to connect with your customers in a whole new way discover Neosperience Engage, the end-to-end mobile marketing solution to turn on smartphones like magic and deliver personalized experiences to customers close to, or inside the store.