"Search online, buy offline" is hipper than "search offline, buy online." Nevertheless, both trends prove: omnichannel strategies are indispensable for successful retail - and especially for local stores. "Search online, buy offline" is hipper than "search offline, buy online." Nevertheless, both trends prove: omnichannel strategies are indispensable for successful retail - and especially for local stores.
Customers use all channels for successful shopping
Stationary retail is and will remain popular, even if it has to come to terms with digital channels. Those who have so far hoped to be able to operate their trade exclusively locally are mistaken: every business also belongs in the online world, because that's where the customers are, that's where they get information, exchange ideas, recommend. To compete with almighty competitors such as Amazon & Co. is not necessary, it is rather crucial to be visible online and to satisfy its customers.
Studies of this and last year have shown that buying behavior is different than many have assumed. Neither is brick-and-mortar retail safely on a clear losing streak, nor can online stores rigorously prevail .
In 2015, 87% of all buying processes began online and were completed offline: The well-informed customer first searches for products on the Internet, researches further facts and compares prices. Then, however, he goes to the local stores, tries out - and buys.
Combining the advantages of the store with those of the Internet
The reasons for this buying strategy are literally obvious: see, touch, try out. Especially if the stationary supplier offers a professional appearance, competent service and personal contact, the customer has advantages that he cannot get online. In addition, the products are directly available in the store and can be taken away immediately.
Parallel to this, although less frequently, customers pursue the reverse strategy: in this case, they use the haptic advantages in the stationary retailer to try them out, but then buy them online. This is primarily the case for household and technology goods as well as fashion items. 65 % of all customers have already done this, but only 11 % regularly .
For regionally based retail and service businesses, both findings represent good news: With a clever mix of channels and content, concrete opportunities for a profitable communication and sales strategy can emerge.
On the spot at the right micro-moment: Via smartphone to the local store
Even and especially as a stationary retailer, you can successfully use this omnipresent behavior. Potential customers are increasingly picking up their smartphones to follow an impulse and search for something. These micro-moments accompany us through everyday life - and you should be digitally on hand for each of them:
The mostly general search terms such as "dress" or "brand XY" are broken down to regional search results by search engines - classically Google. If the customer does not find you here after a few seconds, you are not even considered as a possible supplier. Such "decision-making" now takes place in Germany to 50 - 60 % via mobile devices .
The aforementioned impulses want to be put into (purchase) action as quickly as possible. If prospective customers recognize the local availability, they usually prefer this offer to other options.
It is not for nothing that Media Markt and Saturn are now doing well with their online/offline strategy. And even if no one would have expected it a few years ago, Amazon is going offline, has already opened its first brick-and-mortar store in Seattle in 2015 and is planning up to 400 more stores.
Show yourself on all channels - quickly, easily and invitingly
Crucial to your omni-channel strategy is that you and your offer can be found repeatedly and precisely on all channels: The customer must be continuously reminded of you. In addition, every step to you and with you must be simple - and really simple:
Your customers must be able to view the desired service or the longed-for product in its entirety, receive all information clearly and be able to start a contact attempt or order almost as if in their sleep. Long loading times, elaborate entries, phone numbers to type in and too many browser windows make the user disappear here immediately.
Which channels you can use and how you can be found there
To be found, it is first necessary to find out what your customers are really looking for - and how they do it. Ultimately, it's about catching the micro-moment and then being on the spot with relevant content, immediately and online. What keywords are being searched for, what questions are being asked, what benefits are expected?
The classic website can serve as your digital presence, as can the Facebook fan page and/or a separate mobile app. Your individual solution should ideally have many connecting pieces between the channels and save you time-consuming content maintenance work.
What advantages an app has as a direct and accessible touchpoint and how this can be implemented, we have in our last blog post also presented with a concrete example.
In retail, visually driven networks such as Instagram and Pinterest can also be interesting. So you can distribute images of your products very well and create important first impressions. Likewise, it should not go unmentioned here that you can consider your own listings in Amazon or Google Shopping.
Clever communication, up-to-date content, uncomplicated handling - this is how omni-channel makes sense
Just as crucial as being found is staying in touch: Your communication should be characterized by being fast, uncomplicated, authentic and informative. The customer must enjoy communicating with you, be presented with all the latest products and interesting news, have to expend hardly any effort and be given the chance to provide feedback.
All your digital contact points must also load quickly and be directly usable without complicated or lengthy installations. If they are not, you will lose valuable visitors and potential customers in a very short time and nevermore.
Another advantage of your digital touchpoints: Your channels are responsive via a link, making them quick and easy to share. This opens the door for sustainable recommendations, which are carried by satisfied users into the depths of the multi-layered social networks.
Neither billboards in the city nor banners on the net let alone the good old "Yellow Pages" can offer you all this!
Tell us how your customers now find you better on the Internet and tell us about your new communication and sales experiences! What experiences have you had? Where do you still see potential for yourself, where are there open questions? We look forward to hearing from you!
 DigitasLBI, Connected Commerce 2015: http://www.digitaslbi.com/de/presse/deutsch/kaufverhalten-einzelhandel/
 EHI Retail Institute, How Online Commerce is Boosting Stationary Stores: https://www.ehi.org/de/pressemitteilungen/wie-der-onlinehandel-stationaere-laeden-befluegelt/
 Google Inside AdWords: https://adwords.googleblog.com/2015/05/building-for-next-moment.html