Digitization or Digital Transformation has been at the center of all boardroom conversations since the pandemic struck in 2020. From large brands to small retail establishments, everyone has adapted and adopted to the “digital” way of doing business. We don’t frown upon jumping on a video call or hesitate to pay the booking amount online to book our dream car. The digitization wave swept fast and accelerated the change of behavior. With smartphones in their hands, consumers today have access to information in a few taps.
Hopefully, with the pandemic behind us, everyone is optimistic and looking forward to the festival season. On top of it, this festival season comes with the double bonanza of the T20 World Cup also happening around the same time. These two events coming together mean a significant increase in AdEx across all sectors. The first half of 2022 has already seen a high double-digit growth over the first half of 2021 and the second half promises to be much higher (TAM Adex data).
With such a high decibel exposure to marketing messages – new product launches, offers, sales promotions, etc. the digitally activated consumers latch on to their devices and start researching, comparing, and shortlisting on the way to their buying decision.
Consumers also plan their large ticket purchases during the festive season. The intent to make a high-ticket purchase during the festive season starts a few months in advance when users start reading/ checking reviews online for the products, investing time in research and consideration, and finally looking offline or online to buy.
According to this report by Google, Nine in 10 offline buyers use online touch points to gather information before making purchases, and this consumer buying behavior extends to those in India’s rural heartland. There, seven in 10 people use online touch points in their shopping journeys, even if 85% of their purchases are made in stores. Retail sales being influenced by digital considers all the transactions where a consumer has had a digital touchpoint in their purchase journey.
Now, imagine a scenario where a consumer gets influenced by the repeated high-impact exposure of advertising across multiple mediums only to get frustrated by not being able to find the right information about where to buy and how to contact the retail stores. Unfortunately, all that marketing doesn’t sell – it persuades but the sale happens at the point of sale – online or offline. If the journey from marketing to sales is not mapped out correctly, brands will have a leaky funnel. Even after casting a wide net of reach, they will see fewer consumers moving from awareness to purchase.
All the awareness of the brand and the hours spent searching by the user online will be lost if the point of sale (physical retail stores) is not present digitally for the consumers to engage. While e-commerce is growing by leaps and bound, businesses with offline retail networks can’t ignore this huge opportunity of being discovered by consumers online and moving them frictionlessly to their purchase funnel through E-Commerce, Conversational Commerce (via Chat), or In-Store Commerce.
Storefronts, with better knowledge of local markets and consumers, can plan local offers and target more customers for their retail stores. Hence, the brands must plan ahead during the festive time so that they have an upper hand when it comes to being present along the customer’s purchase funnel.
Omnichannel presence & customer engagement is the key
Convenience and personalized experiences gain greater importance in the consumer’s journey during festivities. Keeping these factors in mind brands need to simplify and smoothen the consumer’s digital and physical journeys, ensuring consistency between the two channels. In India for instance, 93% of India’s consumers use both online and offline channels to find information before buying anything. However, less than 40% of brands have adequately built their physical and digital presence. This could lead to potential losses, particularly considering the festive season. So, while physical engagement avenues such as store-visits can strengthen the consumer’s purchase decision, automated chats, reviews and ratings, and eCommerce-enabled location-level pages can play a pivotal role in refining the consumer’s digital journey, considering that majority of these activities begin through an online search.
The omnichannel strategy ensures that consumers are given enough comfort and assurance as they progress with their shopping plans. Festivities often end up revealing a brand’s ability to form a connect with consumers. While most brands go heavy on promotions and lucrative offers, the ones that can positively impact consumers by delivering an appreciable end-to-end experience, are the ones that achieve sustained recall and business growth.
In conclusion, if as a marketer you intend to go heavy with your marketing spends this festive season, make sure you have thought through the entire customer journey – online and offline.
A sweet customer journey that starts with a great marketing communication can turn sour on the way to your retail store if the touch points are broken and we all know that the festival season is all about “sweet” memories.
Views expressed are personal.