How resolving cross-channel identities can help marketers adapt to the rise of the hybrid consumer

6 minute read

Team BlueVenn

Let’s face it, Covid-19 and its associated risks and regulations have impacted the behavior of every consumer, and the tactics of every retailer, around the world. Customers who have always shopped in brick-and-mortar stores have moved online for the first time, while those who have always bought certain items online are e-shopping more frequently, if not exclusively. But, when restrictions allow, many people are relishing the chance to hit the high street to experience some form of normality!

These people, who zigzag between the online and offline retail spaces, are the new normal – the hybrid consumer. In November, 2020, we surveyed 4,031 consumers and 501 retailers, in the US and UK, to understand which shoppers fall within this bracket and what retailers are doing to accommodate them.

Our retail study findings

The results demonstrated just how important it will be this year for retailers to understand which customers are frequenting physical and/or digital touchpoints, and when, in order to stand out in what has become a cut-throat retail landscape by providing them with tailored offers and communications. Here are just a few of the key research findings of our study:

  • 55% of shoppers expected to change the way they shopped at Christmas, with 49% in the US and 41% in the UK expecting this seasonal behavior to be indicative of their shopping habits for 2021.
  • 45% expected to spend less overall at Christmas, compared to 18% expecting to spend more overall, although a quarter expected to spend up to 30% more each time they shopped in-store.
  • Half expected to use a mix of online and offline gift shopping, with the proportion expecting to do >50% online doubling, year-on-year, while the proportion expecting to do >50% offline halved.
  • 75% of US consumers and 57% in the UK planned to shop less in the high street, although 42% and 37% respectively expected to shop there more frequently once vaccinated.
  • 57% of retailers were concerned about their ability to respond to this changing consumer behavior.
  • 60% worried they could lose regular customers as they shopped more online.
  • Half were concerned they wouldn’t be able to personalize the multichannel experience and might miss out on target customers.
  • 80% believed they were capturing the data needed to take advantage of the eCommerce surge, but >50% weren’t collecting multichannel journey information and 40% were failing to track multichannel spend.

Continue reading? Download the Retail Study: The changes in consumer shopping behavior now.

Download the report to discover our research into buying trends during the COVID-19 pandemic, both over the festive period and in the New Year, and how well retailers are managing to track, learn from and take advantage of shifting consumer habits.


What this means for retailers

Restrictions dictate that, right now, online is king, and since just under half of the consumers surveyed are expecting their Christmas shopping habits to continue throughout 2021, wise retailers will take the hint and invest in solutions to understand the cross-channel identity of their customers as they meander between online and offline touchpoints.

They will need to make sure they understand which pages, links and offers are speeding customers towards a conversion and which are causing people to slow down, pause or leave the journey. Similarly, they will need to understand how lockdown restrictions and the pandemic are fundamentally – and possibly permanently – changing the ways in which customers buy from them. That way, they will be able to learn lessons about what is working and what is not, so they can fix any black spots and invest a greater share of budget in the most successful brand experiences.

In order to optimize the hybrid customer journey, marketers must first have the necessary mediums in place to capture clean, accurate data that relates to this business objective, whether that comes from in-store data collection methods, eCommerce transactions, VOC programs, surveys or behavior tracking on the website.

But, eCommerce isn’t the be-all and end-all of retail. Even at a time when we’re in the eye of the Covid-19 storm, and the risks of any shopping trip are high, consumers are craving a bit of normality and either embracing it whenever chance allows (and spending more when they do) or looking forward to the day when the vaccines have begun to reduce the dangers of the high street so that they can return to it.

Brick-and-mortar stores are still popular, and even though their market share has declined, there’s good money to be made by those who get the in-store customer experience right, especially if they can link it to the online journey. Identity resolution will enable marketers to gain a full oversight of each customer’s individual habits and preferences, pieced together from the spectrum of online and offline data collected about that customer. This will enable them to tempt the individual to buy by engaging them in the right place and at the right time.

The ultimate customer experience is one where a customer is recognized in whatever arena they choose to shop, their preferences are understood, and marketing messages are consistent, demonstrating an awareness of what has, or has not, been recently bought.

How a CDP can help retailers to keep track of their customers

Retailers are worried that they won’t be able to keep up with changes in customer behavior and will lose business as a result. A CDP will draw data from every marketing platform or business system, including brick-and-mortar shops, into one place to construct a clean, clear view of all interactions and information recorded for each customer. Identity resolution powers this unification of marketers’ data, letting them visualize the entire customer journey as one, without needing to tack together the customer journey insights from lots of different platforms.

BlueVenn uniquely combines our CDP with full multichannel marketing capabilities, to enable insights and activation in one tool. BlueVenn can therefore be used to power the customer journey, so that customers are segmented to only receive information relating to their preferred products or topics, on the channel they spend most time on, at the times they are most likely to buy. The responses generated from individuals by each campaign, whether that means link clicks, page visits, product selections, purchases, reviews or social commentary, are then fed back into the unified ‘Single Customer View’ to further optimize the targeting of future campaigns.

The beauty of having one nerve centre that houses all marketing intelligence, and directs all operations, is that there’s no need to replace your entire marketing stack with an integrated marketing suite at a time when pennies are scarce. By definition, a CDP can be seamlessly integrated into your existing marketing stack to ingest all data, match all customer records using identity resolution, and then provide the insights and journey orchestration capabilities required to automate the most appropriate channel, offer and message for each individual customer.

Next steps

If you’re just starting to appreciate what a CDP might be able to offer your company and would like to learn more about the merits of this technology, join our bi-monthly demo. Or, if you have already secured buy-in for a CDP and are keen to find the right vendor to match your business’s unique needs, you can book a private demo today.

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