Where are Your Customers? Using Location to Drive In-Store Traffic

The buyer’s journey has evolved over the past decade. Ten years ago, desktop became a regular channel for customers to search for, learn about and evaluate products before purchase. Today, retail websites see nearly 50% of traffic coming from mobile, according to Marketingland.com. In spite of these changes, the vast majority of actual purchases still happen offline. According to management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, 90% of all retail sales are transacted in-store. So even with all the opportunities to reach customers on digital media, a major objective for most retailers is to drive in-store traffic.

Using mobile is a great way to achieve this objective since nearly everybody walks around with a smartphone in their pocket. However, the mobility associated with digital behavior has further complicated things for retailers as they have an additional challenge of confirming a customer’s physical location in order to understand how to get them in store. Luckily there a few good tactics retailers can use to hone in on a customer’s physical location, therefore increasing their odds of getting them in-store. Furthermore, the ability to understand what digital efforts are working to drive customers in-store allows for proper attribution and ties digital efforts to physical store revenue. The following content outlines effective tactics that use location to drive customers in-store.

Unique Coupon Codes

One way to establish a connection between a customer and their physical location, as well as to properly attribute digital efforts to physical store revenue, is a unique coupon code. A unique coupon code can be delivered in a variety of ways including sms or email and provides a single-use barcode specific to each recipient. A great way to connect this digital behavior to an offline visit is to send an offer that is valid only in-store. If a customer redeems this coupon in-store, the retailer can now identify a few essential pieces of information:

  1. An individual customer profile is now tied to a specific store location
  2. Based on the redemption of the offer and location details, future offers can be tailored to reflect this information
  3. Integration with POS can add a new layer of information around items purchased and loyalty information, all connected to the individual and the store location.

Going forward, the retailer can modify the offer amount, items featured and specify content based on the store location. The unique coupon offers might also have a limited time frame attached, further encouraging the customer to head in-store. If a store location needs to unload some of last season’s inventory, they could offer a location-specific discount that expires in 48 hours. For example: If a retailer ordered too many winter boots and spring is a month away, they could send personalized unique offers to specific segments of people that live in cold weather climates and live close to a store. The limited time offer creates a sense of urgency and the unique code enables further data capture on these segments.

Customer Profiles

Customer profiles can reveal information about a customer’s location, but incomplete or misleading data can require some creativity to uncover these insights. Using a customer’s area code can be highly successful as a means of suggesting location, but it is not always accurate. Most cell phone users choose to keep their unique phone numbers regardless of their geographic location. For example, I have an 847 area code, but I live in Chicago which is a 312 area code. However, if a customer has a 312 area code (Chicago) and the shipping address is also in Chicago, we can use profile data to drive them to the appropriate store location. If these pieces of information don’t line up, or the retailer only has incomplete profile information such as an email or phone number and no shipping address, they can test their hypothesis with an offer valid in-store or line and monitor redemption. If the offer is redeemed online, the retailer could incentivize free, same day store pickup to gauge whether a store location is feasible.

This “buy online pick-up in-store” approach is beneficial from multiple perspectives. From the customer’s perspective, they want curbside pick-up or to avoid shipping costs or delays and don’t want to stand in a line to pick up what they already paid for. From the retailer’s perspective, they want the shopper to walk around the store and buy a few more things while picking up their online order.

The creative use of offers and profile information is a great way to drive in-store traffic and confirm physical location. Retailers should always be thinking outside the box to connect online and offline, and widespread smartphone usage provides a real time, contextual opportunity that can help retailers connect the dots and drive more purchases in store. Most retailers have some profile data to leverage and many vendors are now incorporating unique coupon codes as part of a managed offer strategy, so both scenarios explained above can be easily put into action. The ability to personalize content is fast becoming a differentiator for retailers. Understanding where and how a customer is most likely to purchase is yet another way to add value to the customer, while guide the path to purchase in favor of the in-store visit.

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