Online, Offline or Bottom Line: Should you care where your sales come from?

Go back

Retail strategy in recent years has chosen to focus on an omni-channel approach, trying to make all channels be all things to all shoppers. When budgets are tight and resource is stretched, focusing on all areas at once can be a challenge, so should businesses be prioritising one channel over the other for growth and does it really matter where sales come from?

Online v Offline

Once seen as a nice-to-have, eCommerce operations are vital for retail companies who have ambitions of surviving in the digital age.

However with eCommerce’s rise in importance when it comes to a company’s sales mix has become problematic for businesses whose roots are planted in their bricks and mortar background. With high street stores struggling for footfall and therefore sales, a focus on growing the online channel can often come at the expense of in-store investment.  

The shift in focus can quite often lead to internal resentments, with online and offline channels fighting battles on opposite sides of the retail divide.

So how can you get both teams to work together for the greater good of shifting the bottom line?

Multi-channel Incentives

Most of the friction from in-store sales teams when it comes to eCommerce is that they are incentivised based on sales through the store’s tills.

To alleviate this pain point, consider including complementary eCommerce incentives for in-store teams.

You could reward your in-store team for:

  • Email newsletter or catalogue mailing signups at the till point
  • Gaining a sale from a customer who’s returning an online order in-store
  • Placing online orders for customers in-store if they don’t have an item in stock
  • Opening an online credit account or loyalty card during the online order process

Similarly, you could incentivise the eCommerce and digital marketing team for driving footfall and revenue in-store from online activity.

When the digital marketing budget is directly measured on effective return on investment from orders placed through the website, there’s no incentive for a digital or eCommerce team to setup store-focused activity. By giving them a separate budget for store-focused activity that’s judged on different metrics, you could help them become more focused on the overall business sales growth.

You could reward your digital team if they increase footfall and sales from:

  • Location-targeted PPC, display and social advertising
  • Store-focused email marketing campaigns (in-store events, store maps, discount coupons)
  • Optimised store landing pages, listing opening hours and offers/events unique to the store
  • Shifting volume of stock in stores (if you have a perpetual stock system that allows customers to buy online and have the item shipped from store)

Quash The Cannibalisation Myth

Another issue with the omni-channel approach is that store staff can assume their footfall and sales has been negatively impacted by customers shopping online instead.

While there will always be a percentage of customers who prefer online shopping to in-store, it’s not as simple as assuming that the website has ‘stolen’ the store’s sales.

If your eCommerce team is facing accusations from retail teams that this is what has happened, a simple report into sales from store catchment areas over a period time v the individual store’s sales trend should go some way to either disproving or proving this theory.

Keeping an eye on online sales in your store catchment areas can help you spot trends before they become an issue in your business.

You can also attach barcodes and in-store vouchers to any digital activity that involves a discount. Giving customers the option to redeem these offers in-store at the till point will allow you to track and measure the in-store effect of digital marketing activity you are running.

Customer Convenience is Key

At the heart of it all is the aim to make sure the customer is able to buy your products, whether they are browsing your site or your shop.

Making it as easy for them to shop on the channel of their choice should always be your goal, so here’s some key things to think about:

  • The website URL should be as visible as possible on key in-store touchpoint to reinforce your multi-channel presence
  • This is key for customers who like to browse or shop in-store but are looking for items that the store doesn’t stock in their size/colour
  • Staff should be encouraged to direct customers to the site, or help them place an order on an in-store portal if they’re unsure on how to do this, to avoid losing a sale
  • The website should have an easily-accessible store locator page to cater for the customer who wants to shop in-store
  • On-site meta data should be accurate and up to date to help the store pages appear in localised search results for customers intending to shop in outlets near to them
  • Any click and collect options should also be highlighted to customers during their journey both online and in-store

Experience is Everything

If your stores offer benefits or experiences that can’t be replicated online, then you need to tell your customer why they should visit you in-store.

Your website and online marketing channels can help to highlight the in-store experience, so think about potential services your stores offer and how you can use digital activity to drive those customers in store if you have:

  • Personal shopping experiences
  • Style advisors
  • Fitting or measuring services
  • In-store events
  • Cafes or restaurants
  • Free parking
  • Late night shopping
  • Gift vouchers and/or gift wrap
  • Beauty bars
  • Celebrity/influencer appearances

What’s the bottom line?

Customer choice will ultimately dictate where they choose to shop, and what channel is right for them. It shouldn’t matter to your business where those sales come from, as long as they come through your till. By giving the customer the option to shop via both channels, and making it as easy as possible for them to do so, you’ll be on your way to becoming a successful omni-channel retailer.

lets create something great

Get in touch and send some basic info for a quick quote.

Start Your Project

cohesion Events

Invite only eCommerce events in in Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool London, Glasgow

Register for an invite