Retail Bloopers and the Role of Attribution in Delivering an Omni Experience

Recently, I was at a national big box chain store that I knew and loved. In addition to shopping my local branch of their store, I also often browsed their website on my home laptop, and had joined their mailing list to receive updates and coupons by email, which I usually read on my mobile phone while on the go.

On this particular day, I’d received a coupon for 20% off. It was a great deal, and the fact that I’d received the coupon in my email was what compelled me to visit the store on my way home.

Unfortunately, when I got to the check-out line and presented the coupon on my phone to the sales clerk, she was confused. “I’m sorry, ma’am,” she said, “I think those email coupons are just for shopping on our website, not here in the store,” she explained. Her response made it clear that the chain had not joined up its online offers with the off-line, physical store location.

To say that I was disappointed is an understatement. To say that I took my business elsewhere was the reality – and it’s a reality many businesses face when they fail to join up the different shopping channels through which their customers ultimately make a purchase.

At Rakuten Marketing, we call these disjointed missteps “retail bloopers.” They are the all-too-common mistakes that occur when the customer journey is viewed in channel silos, and not credited as a whole when a conversion finally does occur.

Examples of retail bloopers are when:

  • A coupon online isn’t known about or honored by the clerk in store (like what happened to me in the above scenario)
  • You are unable to return the item offline purchased online
  • You receive a “you’ve left something in your cart” email after you already purchased the item through a different device.

Retail bloopers cause frustration for customers but are also a real threat to understanding the influence marketing is having in the entire customer journey to conversion.

For instance, in the above scenario, by not joining up online and offline, the big box retailer never would have known that it was the email coupon that drove me into the physical store to make the purchase.  This oversight could decrease email marketing budgets when in fact, email marketing was a key component that drove my in-store visit.

In allowing retail bloopers to occur, retailers fail to deliver a true omni experience to their customers. Today’s shoppers are savvy and expect to have a shopping experience that puts them first and delivers a seamless experience across all the channels – and that is the crux of omnichannel. But retailers cannot provide an omni experience when they don’t have the insights and the data to join up their marketing efforts and have more clarity on what touchpoints lead to conversion.

What’s the solution, then? How can retailers join up all the channels and see the “full picture” of the customer journey to prevent retail bloopers? Implementing an attributed measurement solution is the answer to both of those questions. Marketers must look at the interrelationship between in-store retail and ecommerce channels across the whole of the purchase journey, as opposed to just looking at the channel by which a conversion occurs as the driver of the sale – and attribution allows them to do just that.

Attribution is the data-led key to truly understanding and assessing the performance of your marketing campaigns. It’s the ability to accurately assign value to each marketing touch point across the complete user journey, providing a greater understanding of the combination of events that drive conversion.

Retail brand marketers can use insights gleaned from attribution to overcome retail bloopers and provide a more streamlined customer experience. In using attribution, marketers are able to take an omni view of the customer, which in turn provides insight into which channels and marketing efforts ultimately led to a purchase through any one of a retailer’s channels and which did not. This insight can provide the basis for future marketing strategy and offers consumers a better experience with the brand itself, whether they are shopping in store, online, via mobile or, most likely, through combination of all the channels: a true “omni experience.”

Deepa Sureka is the Managing Director of Attribution at Rakuten Marketing

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