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Since the recent Consumer Goods Forum Global Summit in South Africa, the local commerce blogosphere has been abuzz with talk of the ‘digital divide’.  Many retailers and grocery chains are failing to capitalise on the modern shopper’s hybrid online/offline behaviour. Some brands fail to offer a frictionless path between a customer’s online and in-store experiences. It’s thus important to focus on how to close the digital divide.

Businesses Not Meeting Customer Expectations In-Store

Tim Bishop, the Director of Deloitte Digital Africa, has cautioned that many businesses are failing to meet and manage customers’ expectations in-store. Consumers are now using digital devices more than ever to research basic information (product information and pricing as well as peer reviews that create trust) before heading to their nearest stores.

Understanding how customers experience your brand online and meeting the expectations they form online in-store ensures a seamless transition towards sales.

Shoppers Now Control Their Own Purchase Routes

What many retailers haven’t grasped is that shoppers are now in control of their own purchase routes. In the past, stores could guide customers through in-store promotions and other elements of customer experience design (such as store layout). What’s changed is that modern shoppers often enter a store knowing exactly what they want thanks to digital information. They have a competitive, comparative knowledge of alternatives.

What many retailers have misunderstood is that giving the customer a basic digital experience of their brand is not enough. App designs can’t simply be virtual replicas of store-fronts. Branded shopping apps need to be relevant. You have to provide the kind of information customers search for when they are forming plans to purchase.

How You Can Close The Digital Divide

To close the digital divide, it’s necessary to understand customers not as vague market personas but as real people who have distinct motivations and perceptions. You need to use intelligent social data to gain a global perspective of your customers or target audience. Social data can be used to place relevant products available in-store in front of your prospective customers at the right moment through re-targeting.

To close the digital divide, make sure that your digital customer experience offers a seamless transition to in-store spending.

If you don’t have an idea where to start bridging the gap between digital and retail, schedule a consultation with us, your customer experience experts today.

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