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5 ways e-commerce helps your offline channels

Holmes and Moriarty, Batman and the Joker, online and offline… There’s a popular view that online and offline commerce are arch enemies, no more likely to work together than any of the famous rivals listed above. This doesn’t have to be the case. Here are five ways in which your online channels can help your offline sales.

1. Market research

Imagine if every one of your catalogues, adverts, stores, or salespeople could keep incredibly detailed records of the way customers experience your sales efforts, what disappoints them, what please them and ultimately what leads to happy regular customers. Wouldn’t you use this to improve your profits? If you sell online, much of this information is already be available to you through web analytics. For instance, if your website has an onsite search facility, what products do customers consistently search for that you don’t stock? Whatever these brands or products are, there is an untapped online demand and there’s reason to think that there could be an offline demand as well.

2. Learn to analyse, test and optimise

Some areas in life allow you to learn more quickly than others: an aspiring novelist can spend years crafting a book before he discovers whether it really connects with his audience, whereas a stand up comic can immediately test the impact of a new gag. Analysis, testing and optimising are not exclusively online activities, but the wealth of tools and the ease of implementation allow you to learn and experiment at an incredible pace. To trial different styles of product descriptions in a catalogue, you have to wait months before you can measure your results. Running the same trial on your online store, you can begin to gain meaningful insight in days. A typical store manager may get to test out a few new ideas in his first year in management; in the same period, an e-commerce director can become a seasoned split tester with a strong understanding of how to best implement and learn from split tests and, more importantly, a real track record of increasing profits. If your company sells through online and offline channels, make sure that this experience isn’t going to waste. For instance, could your online team be assisting in the split testing of your catalogues, or your sales letters?

3. Gain leads

Increasingly consumers are turning to online research, even if they intend to make their purchase offline. Make sure that your offline channels can be easily found by on the web through clear contact details, phone numbers, store locators and catalogue request forms. Not only do these ensure a smooth path for those wanting to make an offline purchase, but they can even increase your online conversion rate by making it easier for your customers to shop in whichever channel they prefer.

4. Build relationships

Social media gives you opportunities to build trust, loyalty and brand awareness with many of your online and offline customers. Not everyone on Facebook shops exclusively online; there are big opportunities to promote all of your channels. Look for opportunities to build lasting relationships online with your customers through honest, helpful product support and special offers (both online and offline) to your social media followers. A little wit and character shouldn’t hurt either – as long as it’s appropriate: think carefully before making a joke to promote your funeral service company!

5. Benefit from the power of online advertising

There’s a reason that online advertising is growing so quickly: it works. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that it can only support your online channels. One study in the US found that approximately

“70 per cent of online ad campaigns led to a double-digit boost in offline sales”

Another went even further, suggesting that

“for every $1 of e-commerce revenue generated from paid search, marketers can expect to see approximately another $6 of in-store revenue.”

The message is clear: online ads definitely can boost offline sales. Are you making the most of this opportunity? 

If you want to achieve double-digit increases in your sales for your e-commerce website, A/B split testing is a powerful and profitable tool when used as part of a complete Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) programme. Download our guide to A/B Testing here:

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