Alastair Bruce is Director Retail at Google Germany. In an EuroCIS interview he tells us which channel of distribution is the safest way to move into the future and how brick and mortar businesses can stand up to online stores.
Mr. Bruce, how important is multichannel marketing for companies these days?
Today’s customer is very well informed and makes significantly fewer spontaneous purchase decisions. That is why company success is directly related to how well you communicate with the customer across all sales relevant channels. This does not necessarily mean that there needs to be marketing and sales on all channels, but all of the relevant information needs to be found wherever you go.
What channel combination would you recommend to retailers?
Today customers expect seamless communication and information. They do not distinguish between the different channels, but choose based on personal preferences and the situation as to where they want to get their information from or where they would like to purchase the product. The online distribution channel definitely plays an important role in this, since 92 percent of all customers get their information online before they make a purchase.
How does multichannel marketing work at Google Germany?
The user has to be the focus of every marketing and distribution strategy. We consequently support our customers in developing marketing strategies that respond to user needs. This could mean for instance that we make the ROPO Effect (Research Online & Purchase Offline) measurable in studies to ensure the efficiency of advertising expenditures. Alternatively, we assist in understanding the role of mobile devices in the purchase decision process and integrate it correspondingly into the strategy. One specific example is dynamic location insertions with which companies can guide Google users with mobile devices directly to their stores.
Where do you see the largest call for action for brick and mortar businesses to remain competitive despite rising online retail?
Online retail offers customers tangible advantages that brick and mortar businesses need to compensate for. This can be done through a better product, exceptional service or savings. However, it is important that the customer sees a distinct advantage in going to a brick and mortar business. Innovative multichannel concepts such as for instance ”reserve online, pickup in store“ or ”order online and return in store“ are also helpful.
What trends are currently on the horizon in the industry?
Communication and distribution channels are increasingly merging. That is why companies have to develop concepts on how they can link online and offline together. At the same time, multi-screen usage is increasing. Consumers for instance watch TV and surf the web on their tablet at the same time. Such parallel usage changes the way the individual medium is being consumed of course. It is imperative to make allowances for these developments.
In your opinion, what channel or channel combination will be the future?
Growth will largely come from the online sector in the future. Mobile devices will play an ever more important role in the decision-making process. From indoor navigation via apps to barcodes at the point of sale, these offers support the customer in making a purchase decision across all channels. Companies need to find ways to merge the channels individually and to offer customers holistic communication – virtually an “omnichannel” strategy.
The interview was conducted by Elisabeth Henning,EuroShop.de