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Digital strategies are a perfect fit for the traditional shopping experience

There is a very old marketing adage that goes something like this: “Half of my marketing budget is wasted. I just wish I knew which half.”

For the longest time measuring results was an inexact science. Long before A/B testing, retailers had little choice but to toss everything at the wall and hope that some of it stuck long enough for consumers to react.

Of course in the digital world the success or failure of any specific marketing program can be tracked in real time using data gleaned from visits, page views and overall conversion rates.

Last month when I attended the DX3 conference in Toronto I was impressed to see how brick and mortar retailers were not only embracing data driven technology, but actually trying to match the quality of data gathered by their online counterparts.

Everywhere I looked I was seeing exhibitors demonstrating technology that will help retailers become more nimble and responsive to what their customers actually want.

In one instance there was a virtual reality terminal that allowed potential travelers to “experience” various destination locations before pulling the trigger on a booking. Think about how something as simple as this could disrupt an industry? No more guessing if a beach is overused or a city is really worth visiting! Travel companies will know where the interest is and airlines can match their routes based on data-driven demand.

Another advancement that caught my eye was eye-tracking technology. As a consumer passes through a retail environment a store collects data about the products they viewed and the sections of the store they visited. This kind of data can drive major design and layout changes as well as show what product categories and brands are getting (and keeping the attention of) consumers.

Collecting this kind of data provides an almost limitless supply of possible trigger events.

Taking the online shopping experience offline

Recently, several pure play digital outfits have chosen to open bricks and mortar stores.  They’ve realized the value in having a physical location, and that online does not suit all types of customers.  Frank + Oak (clothing) and Indochino (made-to-measure suits) are two examples among many who have added this selling channel.  What I saw at Dx3 was an effort to blend some of the best of online data gathering into the bricks and mortar environment.  

When you are browsing a rack in a store, this information can now be captured, just like you were browsing a page online.  Some of the information will be non-personalized, but in other cases, you’ll log into the store upon entry and check out so there is potential for very personalized tracking of what you looked at, picked up, tried on, stared at for a long time and even the path you took through the store.  The language to describe your visit to a real store will resemble a visit online.

Now imagine that triggering an entire marketing campaign specific to you and your visit.  Displays on walls might change to offer you suggestions as you shop or an email might appear in your inbox after you leave. And, of course, ads will appear on webpages you visit and a piece of mail will arrive in your mailbox the very next day with a special discount on the very thing you were just looking at!

Data is a marketers best friend. And we are currently collecting a lot more of it than we are using. A synchronized campaign that employs everything we know about our customers can unleash a lot of demand.

The day is fast approaching when data driven marketing is the default approach for all retailers as they adapt more and more digital strategies to the physical shopping experience, integrating them with tried and trusted analog technologies like print.

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