Mar 10, 2014

Linking In-Store and Online Customers at the Point of Sale

Posted by Darin Archer

Enticed by an in-store pro­mo­tion at a large retail chain recently, I gave my email address to the cashier in exchange for a perk. A week later, as I was try­ing to pur­chase the same item in dif­fer­ent col­ors, I thought it would be easy to find my in-store order on the store’s web­site and then place a larger order for the item. But after search­ing my account exhaus­tively, I real­ized that my in-store pur­chase was not linked to my online store account and won­dered why the retailer didn’t link my in-store and online pro­files as soon as the cashier entered my email. It would have saved me a phone call to the store to get the item’s search­able SKU or even a gra­tu­itous store visit, and I would have been hap­pily plac­ing the larger online order by now.

Col­lect­ing email addresses at the point of sale (POS) can give new retail­ers a sure­fire way to build an email list quickly and effec­tively for cus­tomer loy­alty cam­paigns. And, for estab­lished retail­ers who have already amassed a large email list, it can pro­vide an indis­pens­able oppor­tu­nity to link online and offline pur­chas­ing his­tory to cre­ate deeply per­son­al­ized expe­ri­ences at every cus­tomer interaction.

To give you an exam­ple, let’s say you receive an email from a retailer about a Memo­r­ial Day Sale but make a pur­chase in-store instead of online. The retailer should be able to attribute the sale to the email you received a few weeks ear­lier. To make this hap­pen, the retailer needs to link your in-store and online iden­ti­ties and learn who you are inside the store by ask­ing for either your email address or your loy­alty card at POS.

Although social media seems to be receiv­ing much of the atten­tion today, email mar­ket­ing is still con­sid­ered one of the most effec­tive tools for direct mar­ket­ing. In new cus­tomer acqui­si­tion, for instance, acquir­ing email addresses is more fruit­ful than achiev­ing Face­book likes. When you have a customer’s email address, you can directly engage with that indi­vid­ual in inter­ac­tive, per­son­al­ized con­ver­sa­tions across mul­ti­ple channels.

One pop­u­lar way to get atten­tion is to offer cus­tomers per­son­al­ized dis­counts, points, and rewards that are rel­e­vant to their shop­ping his­tory. Sta­dium, the largest retailer in the Nordics, touts a loy­alty pro­gram with more than 1 mil­lion mem­bers. The com­pany uses the lead­ing cross-channel cam­paign man­age­ment solu­tion to grow its loy­alty pro­gram by launch­ing cross-channel cam­paigns at dif­fer­ent stages dur­ing the cus­tomer journey.

In its email cam­paign, Sta­dium gives spe­cial offers to active cus­tomers based on their pur­chase his­tory and to inac­tive cus­tomers based on their indi­cated inter­ests. Com­bin­ing online and offline cam­paigns suc­cess­fully, Sta­dium uses the con­ver­sa­tional mar­ket­ing tech­nol­ogy to cre­ate per­son­al­ized let­ters with cus­tomized offers to be inserted in its mag­a­zine and e-newsletters—with each offer per­son­al­ized to the cus­tomer based on pre­vi­ous buy­ing his­tory and inter­ests. Sta­dium also mea­sures offline coupon redemp­tion by using the tech­nol­ogy when scan­ning of unique bar­codes at any POS device.

Tak­ing it a step fur­ther, once you have the customer’s email address, you can use it to link the customer’s online and offline pur­chas­ing his­tory.  Hav­ing both cus­tomer his­to­ries linked can also enable incred­i­bly com­pelling inter­ac­tions on your web­site, mobile app, and in-store. Poten­tially, for exam­ple, when a cus­tomer vis­its a cos­met­ics depart­ment, an in-store employee can be alerted to give dis­tinct sample-sized gifts to that per­son based on his or her past pur­chas­ing behav­ior. Or in real-time, a shoe retailer can ping both the in-store sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives and e-commerce sites about which types of shoes to rec­om­mend to a par­tic­u­lar cus­tomer at any given moment.

Although many large retail­ers already col­lect cus­tomer email addresses at the counter, the meth­ods aren’t always effec­tive. Typ­i­cally, cashiers use a form to col­lect cus­tomer infor­ma­tion or type the customer’s email address into their POS sys­tem. How­ever, col­lect­ing the email address or any other cus­tomer data by hand can lead to inac­cu­ra­cies in data col­lec­tion. Cashiers who are in a rush to com­plete a trans­ac­tion do not have bul­let­proof and con­sis­tent ways of record­ing email addresses accu­rately or of val­i­dat­ing them auto­mat­i­cally in real time. Remark­ably, accord­ing to Direct Mar­ket­ing Asso­ci­a­tion, for every $1 mar­keters spend on email, the aver­age ROI is $40. There­fore, the more accu­rate the data is, the more likely it is that your email mar­ket­ing cam­paign will lead to higher conversions.

In addi­tion to real-time email address val­i­da­tion, you can incen­tivize cus­tomers to pro­vide valid email addresses by entic­ing them with free or dis­counted items in exchange. Alter­na­tively, you can ask for email addresses by adding more value to a deal when a cus­tomer makes a large pur­chase, such as a new com­puter, by offer­ing an addi­tional 1-month war­ranty. Once you have the email address, you can engage in a con­ver­sa­tion with the cus­tomer through­out the relationship.

Pro­vid­ing email receipts is another inge­nious way to get an email address and offer con­ve­nience. Tablet POS sys­tems such as Square and Revel Sys­tems give us a glimpse of the future of POS sys­tems and their poten­tial power in bring­ing cus­tomers back. In these tablet POS sys­tems, you can give cus­tomers the option of hav­ing their receipts sent to their email or as a text mes­sage. You can then use cus­tomers’ email addresses to cre­ate cus­tomer pro­files and mea­sure pur­chase his­tory imme­di­ately. And launch­ing email-marketing cam­paigns in sync with the cus­tomer pro­files in your POS sys­tem can stream­line your offline-to-online mar­ket­ing, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of unknown cus­tomers, and cus­tomer loy­alty processes.

Col­lect­ing cus­tomer email addresses at POS offers many oppor­tu­ni­ties to deeply per­son­al­ize and unify your online and in-store shop­ping expe­ri­ences. Doing so will set your brand and retail expe­ri­ence apart from your com­peti­tors. 

This post was previously published on the Adobe Digital Marketing blog on March 10, 2014.


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