Digital influence in retail – the future of digital is physical

Today, I would like to speak about “Nav­i­gat­ing the new dig­i­tal divide”, a very inter­est­ing study which has just been pub­lished by Deloitte Dig­i­tal, and ana­lyzes the pur­chas­ing habits of thou­sands of con­sumers, in order to observe the influ­ence of dig­i­tal on pur­chas­es in stores.

First, we dis­cov­er in this study that 6.5% of sales are now dig­i­tal… which means that the vast major­i­ty (93.5%) of glob­al trade remains offline (over $4 trillion).

We also learn that the pow­er of dig­i­tal chan­nels keep on increas­ing: in fact, almost 49% of in-store pur­chas­es are influ­enced by dig­i­tal today, a fig­ure expect­ed to rise to 64% by the end of 2015. Final­ly, the study also reveals that, at the same time, dur­ing the last 5 years, the mar­ket share of the top 25 US retail­ers fell by 2%, which equates to $64 bil­lion that have ben­e­fit­ed new entrants.

The dig­i­tal is essen­tial to trade in stores

This study high­lights two key points, illus­trat­ing per­fect­ly the fact that we have now moved from dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing to dig­i­tal in ser­vice of marketing:

- On one hand, when a per­son enters a store, it is to buy. And in this approach, the dig­i­tal is a tool, not a com­peti­tor. The real chal­lenge for retail­ers is then to make dig­i­tal a more and more effi­cient con­ver­sion tool.

- On the oth­er hand, retail in stores has dig­i­tal in its DNA, whether it likes it or not. And that is sim­ply because con­sumers have become dig­i­tal. There­fore, it is no longer pos­si­ble to won­der: dig­i­tal must be con­trolled and oper­at­ed not as a chan­nel, but as an offline sales max­i­miza­tion lever.

How to adapt to this evolution?

First, it is essen­tial to build a com­pre­hen­sive view of the consumer’s jour­ney, a real 360 vision, in which trade in stores and e‑commerce would be rec­on­ciled. Beyond mea­sur­ing each channel’s per­for­mance, it is vital to iden­ti­fy the crit­i­cal inter­ac­tion moments in the buyer’s jour­ney and to under­stand the mind­set of the con­sumers, in order to detect the block­ages in these moments, and sup­press them.

It is then this log­ic of inte­grat­ed jour­ney which is fun­da­men­tal. For that, it is impor­tant to ensure that we speak the lan­guage of the con­sumer, but also that dig­i­tal pro­vides all the infor­ma­tion need­ed to buy in stores, and pro­vides all rec­om­men­da­tions and advices nec­es­sary for purchase.

Sec­ond­ly, it is also essen­tial to have the tools and tech­nolo­gies that per­mit, in real time, to adapt the mes­sage and the inter­ac­tion to the moment and the con­text. Indeed, any inter­ac­tion between a brand and a cus­tomer does not nec­es­sar­i­ly hap­pen at a time of avail­abil­i­ty, and this must be inte­grat­ed into a com­pa­ny sales approach.

Nev­er­the­less, this study shows that tra­di­tion­al retail has very bright future ahead, as long retail­ers are focus­ing on what real­ly mat­ters: to under­stand their cus­tomers. We can also note that the influ­ence of dig­i­tal varies depend­ing on prod­uct cat­e­gories, and that social media are a must: I would address these points in more detail in my next article.

In the mean­time, do not hes­i­tate to con­tin­ue the dis­cus­sion and share your views on this study in the com­ments section!