The modern consumer is no longer a single-channel shopper. A recent study of a major U.S. retailer’s customers found that 73 percent followed an omnichannel purchase journey, compared with just 7 percent who were purely digital. What’s more, fluidity between channels is increasing, which allows retail brands to shape shoppers’ experiences and ultimately build a competitive advantage founded on omnichannel customer intelligence.
The imperative for marketers, therefore, is to devise an omnichannel strategy that connects with core customers as they move between retail channels and touchpoints. Yet most retailers don’t outperform across audience development, measurement and activation plans, the combination of which is the key to success. It’s not simple to accomplish. So start by building support and commitment within your organization to begin this journey toward marketing excellence.
The best place to start: millennials. No consumer segment commands more attention than millennials, who comprise 75 million U.S. customers with close to $600 billion in spending power. Despite cries announcing the end of traditional retail, millennials spend a greater share of wallet at department stores than the U.S. population overall; 50 percent of the demographic prefer brick-and-mortar shopping over e-commerce; and 56 percent shop in-store at least once a week. But they are not just walking into the store blind. They’re actually visiting retail locations as part of a truly multichannel shopping experience: 67 percent of millennials buy in-store after doing online research first.
For example, consider Ashley, a 25-year-old who pulls out her smartphone and launches the app for her favorite cosmetics brand while waiting for a friend. Thanks to AI technology, Ashley is directed to products that match her skin tone and align with her browsing history and previous in-store purchases. Later that day, she passes the brand’s store and swings by on her way back from lunch to pick up the suggested products. Mission accomplished. The best-in-class retailers have been implementing a successful omnichannel strategy to support this for a while now. What does it take to devise your own strategy so your customer doesn’t become your competitor’s?
Identifying the millennial consumer is a complex endeavor, and once you accomplish this task, the hoops you’ll have to jump through to become better omnichannel marketers will be just as difficult—but the rewards will be well worth the effort.
Appealing to millennials in general is a challenge. There’s not one characteristic representative of the entire demographic. Millennial is just a macro term of a set of age groups and (partially true) stereotypes. There’s no one way to slice it—segmenting in the aggregate isn’t a means to success. It’s expensive, inefficient and limits your marketing options by tying up large portions of your marketing investments. Beyond age and gender, it’s understanding income, interest, and affinity, too. Not every millennial wants to travel the world. They each have different levels of disposable income and different shopping experiences.
Another challenge for brands in an omnichannel environment is consistently and persistently identifying the actual customer at any point on their path to purchase. There are the customers you can’t see, from in-store shoppers who don’t participate in loyalty programs to customers who never log in. Plus, the anonymity of digital shopping can lead to inexact or inaccurate data: Are those dozens of site visits via the same Wi-Fi just one visitor returning multiple times—or many visitors sharing an internet connection in a coffee shop? If a cookie records activity across multiple websites, is that one person’s browser behavior—or the interactions of multiple family members who share a laptop?
Shared identifiers among millennials is a particularly common problem: There’s a good chance that the shopper you think is logging into your site is actually someone else: 21 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds have been found to share streaming-video passwords with people who don’t live with them, for example. And depending on the data, it could be hard to differentiate the millennial customer from the baby boomer parent, considering that 15 percent of 25- to 35-year-olds are reportedly living with their parents.
The path to solving both of these problems is identity resolution: the science of connecting customers’ many…