The online and offline worlds are rapidly merging, especially when it comes to shopping. A new study  from Deloitte Digital, The New Digital Divide, sheds some light on how consumers’ use of computers and mobile devices is affecting their in-store purchases.
I’m an avid online and offline shopper, but I sometimes feel like no one I know ever goes to an actual store anymore. That’s why I was surprised to find that 90 percent of retail sales in the U.S. still take place in brick-and-mortar establishments.
But that doesn’t mean that brick-and-mortar retailers can ignore the digital world. According to Deloitte, online interactions with brands influence 36 cents of every dollar spent in retail stores. By the end of the year, that number will reach 50 percent.
Contrary to what you might expect, consumers using digital devices during the “path to purchase” are 40 percent more likely to actually buy something than those who don’t. Digital interaction also affects store traffic, customer spending and loyalty:
- 84 percent of in-store shoppers use their computers or mobile devices either before or while visiting the store.
- 22 percent of respondents say they spend more as a result of digital interactions. On average, 25 percent more than they planned to when they began shopping.
- 75 percent of respondents say product information they see on social media affects their shopping behaviors and makes them more loyal to a brand.
What’s the takeaway for your store? Stop thinking of online and offline interactions as two different worlds, and don’t give precedence to one over the other. Instead, think of each time you interact with a customer—whether it’s online or in-store—as a chance to build a relationship with them, tell them more about your brand, encourage purchasing and enhance their loyalty.
How to Build Relationships With Customers
Communicate With Customers Online
Marketing emails, email newsletters, social media posts and text message marketing are all good ways to keep your store top-of-mind, share news about promotions and entice shoppers with discounts and deals.
Tap Into Mobile Technology
Look into mobile marketing solutions that use location-based technologies to send messages to customers while they’re in or near your store. By offering someone a coupon code while they’re debating a purchase (either at your store or at the competition across the street) you might just convince them to buy.
Use Loyalty Programs
There are many digital loyalty programs you can use to interact with and reward customers on their mobile phones. The best of them allow you to track customers’ habits and past purchases so you can tailor future marketing messages to their interests.
If You Have an eCommerce Site…
Make sure you integrate the online and offline experience by letting customers buy products online and pick them up or return them in-store. Being able to see and touch merchandise and knowing they won’t have to deal with return shipping costs are big purchase motivators.
Customer  Photo via Shutterstock