3 Reasons Retailers Need to Focus on Customer Identification

The majority of customers who walk into a physical store are unknown digitally to the retailer (they don’t know their email address). Our data shows that on average, store retailers gathering email addresses from both purchasers and non-purchasers, are 85% unknown previously. The untapped opportunities to accelerate opt-in customer identification prior to purchase in the store are immense and present unique challenges in order to achieve the new subset of customer data.

In an omnichannel environment, historically the majority of progress in creating comprehensive customer profiles has been done online. From using email addresses as identifiers for purchases to implementing cookies or various methods of digital fingerprinting to track browser history, online customer purchase paths are fairly seamless. There is no dedicated CRM for the physical store in the same manner… for now.

When it comes to the offline world, there is much more ambiguity when it comes to understanding the shopper’s interests in real-time and how to provide a similar experience like that engineered and measured online. Not much has been done to identify customers in the store at scale. And while the majority of product research is done online, over 90% of purchases still take place in the physical store.

It has become standard to track a shopper or customer’s behavior in the online world to help drive sales. Why hasn’t it become a standard practice in the offline world?

Offline customer identification is paramount for the shopper who has done some research on a product they are considering, but has not made a final decision. Unlike the shopper who either knows exactly what they are going to buy or has no intention of buying at the time, there is a brief opportunity for retailers to capitalize on this “last mile” opportunity using the right touchpoints. However, most retailers are missing out on the opportunity due to the lack of offline systems in place to track this behavior.

Here are the reasons why it’s critical for retailers to start identifying customers in the store:

Attribution modeling for omnichannel: Offline customer identification helps paint a clearer picture of which online and offline touchpoints contribute to sales

Offline customer identification can go a long way in seeing which touchpoints (both online and offline) are the most successful to lead to purchase. From the online perspective, if a retailer knows that a shopper is researching furniture on their website and has an identifier associated with them, it would be helpful to have a complementary offline identifier to help track that experience. If the retailer offers digital experience with devices in the store and allows the shopper to go around and browse products, they can allow the shopper to opt-in via email at the end of their shopping experience in order to combine that in-store experience with the shopper’s online experience. If the customer goes into a store and deeply considers something but ultimately decides to buy online a few days later, the retailer must know that the impact that the store visit had. Last-click attribution is an insufficient model for modern marketers for measuring success.

Retailers will be able to personalize digital content and interactions as a continuous shopper journey across physical and digital

Being able to have a complete profile of a customer provides many added benefits, such as more effective and targeted content, advertising, intelligent and timely notifications, and the ability to accurately predict customer lifetime value. As more data collection is captured from the offline world, retailers will be in a much better position to make better decisions in messaging, offers and advertising. Rather than making decisions based on arbitrary aggregate metrics, this will empower retailers to use hyper-personalization in a acceptable and helpful way.

Allows sales associates to add more depth and find new ways to engage customers

At the end of the day, if a retailer and staff are providing value to the shopper on the items they are most interested in, shoppers will become more likely to have a positive image of the retailer. In an age where shoppers are looking for a tailored shopping experience, being able to collect data and using it in a meaningful way support by human interaction to drive value to the shopper is the best way to win customers over the long haul. While ecommerce is growing, there is still much emphasis on offline store experience as shopping online will never provide the same sensory benefits of exploring products in the store.

As the industry continues to evolve, retailers will find the landscape to become even more competitive when it comes to winning over shoppers who are looking to make significant purchase decisions. Having systems in place both online and offline to understand the ideal shopper, identification is the first step to creating a winning omnichannel experience.