Real world attribution: crossing the online-offline divide

Real world attribution: crossing the online-offline divide

Marketing consultant Joel Turner shares his insights on the challenges in understanding retail customer experience in the 21st Century.

Ever since the rise of E-commerce one conundrum has perplexed retail marketers: how do you connect the online and offline worlds to build a complete understanding of customer experience?

Resolving this disconnect has led to millions of pounds of investment, and numerous technologies and start-ups that support them failing.

Why is it so hard? Tellingly, many previous attempts at bridging the divide have focused on one stage in the customer journey. Perhaps focusing on Near Field Communication (NFC) or Bluetooth to broadcast messages to customers smartphones, or by using Wi-Fi technology to track customer behaviour in-store.

Vitally, no one has been able to grasp the entire customer experience with a brand. The Holy Grail is beyond reach, for now.

As retailers talk increasingly about ‘customer experience’ – rather than just marketing; customer service and retention – they are doing so in parallel fashion, between their online and offline operations.

One of the major issues is that attempts to bridge the gap can often be seen as invasive or raise privacy concerns. Customers don’t want to be told to download an application or scan a QR code – most even balk at giving an email address.

Even the world’s largest technology companies, such as Apple and Google, can’t complete the picture. So while they have an excellent understanding of what you do on your phone or computer all day, they have a very poor understanding of what you do in the physical world.

The reality is, that to gain a strong understanding of the online and offline retail customer experience retailers must lead the initiative. It is retail brands that need to bridge the gap and build a unified picture of the 21st century shopping experience.

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