This post is from hybris Northern European Marketing Director Alistair Robbie, and is part of the #JUMPchallenge, a blogging competition designed to raise awareness on how to join up online and offline marketing, launched to support Econsultancy’s JUMP event in October.  

Alistair looks at how multichannel retailers can use mobile to strengthen the link between offline and online channels.... 

E-commerce has come a long way, but it’s not longer good enough just to have a web presence. The online shopping experience demanded by today’s consumer has reached new levels, with the expectation that the online and offline worlds can be and should be ‘joined at the hip’.

Hassle-free cross-channel shopping is the order of the day, and also a prerequisite for any retailer that wants to attract and retain a loyal customer base. 

Interestingly, this joined up approach to commerce is good for retailers too, because targeted and highly personalised marketing can help to increase conversion rates and increase average order value leading to higher revenues. Dynamic merchandising can also help to reduce operating expenses.

Although behavioural targeting tools and personalisation engines have come a long way since the days of IP recognition, a recent survey by ChoiceStream revealed that 59% of consumers still think that they receive poor product recommendations and that many retailers are not able to identify critical ‘indicators of interest’ for their customers. 

It should come as no surprise then that the use of sophisticated online personalisation solutions is going to become an increasingly important component of ‘Commerce Anywhere’, enabling best-in-class e-retailers to take a more cohesive approach to building stronger customer relationships and maximise revenues.  

This will be particularly important as mobile commerce comes to the fore. Many mobile users claim they would use their mobile devices for more purchases if the online shopping process wasn’t so cumbersome, products were easier to find, and their devices supported secure credit card transactions. To overcome these barriers, retailers are under pressure to create mobile-specific websites and mobile applications for the huge range of mobile phones that are now available.

The key for retailers is to remember that mobile commerce is not just another commerce channel; it can strengthen the link between existing channels such as physical and online stores.

Customers can start shopping using their mobile devices and finish the process online, via a call centre, in the brick-and-mortar store, or even on the mobile device itself. 

Customers are not just using their phones to purchase; they are looking for information across the entire buying cycle, including searching for products, locating stores, checking order status or product availability, getting product overviews and photos, reading customer reviews and product specifications, and arranging for in-store pick-up. 

Mobile devices enable customers to get information and resolve problems whenever and wherever they want. To meet these needs and drive mobile commerce initiatives, organizations need to be able to have two way communication with customers across all channels.

Integrated marketing and highly personalised communications really is the only way forward for ‘Commerce Anywhere.’

Graham Charlton

Published 10 August, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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