Consumers using technologies


CMOs and retail’s new digital divide

The age of digital influence

Deliver a seamless shopping experience by leveraging digital and mobile influence.​

Understanding how customers digitally engage while shopping online helps CMOs quantify the effect of these interactions on in-store purchase behavior. A recent Deloitte Digital study concluded the ongoing growth of digital influence—the degree to which consumer use of digital and mobile technologies during the shopping journey impacts in-store sales—extended the gap between consumers’ digital expectations and retailers’ ability to deliver.

Three key insights for navigating the new digital divide

  • “Showrooming” is misunderstood: CMOs fear losing sales to showrooming—the consumer practice of using digital devices in-store to comparison shop and later purchase from a cheaper online competitor. Current analysis debunks the showrooming myth. While not to say it doesn’t happen, what we find more broadly is that customers who use digital devices in-store are actually more likely to make a purchase, not less.
  • Shoppers carefully curate their purchase journey: Research revealed unprecedented consumer access to information from a variety of sources is draining retailer influence. Marketing teams carefully construct retail brand messages and images, but customers place their trust in sources they believe are most authentic—sources that retailers don’t necessarily control. Without engaging the retailer, shoppers’ research products, compare prices, read and write reviews, and build wish lists and shopping carts.
  • Digital and mobile influence vary by category: The types of digital interactions vary by product category, ranging from 31 percent of all in-store sales for the food and beverage industry up to 62 percent for the electronics industry, suggesting retail marketing strategies and investments should vary by category. Mobile influence (a subset of the digital influence figure) for those same industries follows a similar pattern.

How CMOs can boost their brands

Even some of the biggest retailers underestimated the impact of consumers’ digital and mobile influence during the purchase journey.

CMOs should consider four strategies:

  • Integrating marketing approaches: Consumers don’t recognize digital and in-store as separate channels the way that most retailers do; customers see their digital and in-person interactions as part of the same shopping experience. To meet customers’ needs, retailers should prepare strong in-store and digital experiences and provide customers with a seamless transition between the two.
  • Re-assessing your business and brand: Determine how digital consumer behaviors changed the shopping and purchase experience in your category, and learn how your competitors have responded. Then, identify business opportunities for your brand and begin executing using integrated approaches.
  • Re-inventing the purchase journey: With the appropriate metrics and assessment tools, measure the impact of digital influence at important moments on the path to purchase. Then you can help your customers re-invent the purchase journey to provide the best end-to-end shopping experience in your category.
  • Being authentic: Discard promotional approaches designed to drive traffic in a particular direction in favor of messages that speak directly to shoppers at important decision points in the customer’s buying process. Build trust by making inroads to the primary sources of your customers’ inspiration and information.

Digital and mobile influence disrupted retail marketing. CMOs should begin to recognize it’s not just about a digital strategy, it’s about strategy and it’s not just about e-commerce, it’s about commerce. Understanding these fundamental shifts will help CMOs bridge the digital divide.

Published on  May 2, 2016.

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