I just got back from Copenhagen and Munich were I had the opportunity to speak to eCommerce professionals at two different conferences. One of the points that I focused on was the importance of engaging your consumer in the ways that they want to be engaged (What they want, where they want, when they want) and that your role as an eCommerce professional isn't always about driving conversion and sales online but it is about driving sales to the overall organization which includes call centre and store based sales.
A question came up after the conference in Copenhagen on how to best measure this. I thought I would put the answer here and if anyone is interested we can expand the conversation.
First off this is were we get away from the comfort of online analytics where everything is measurable to a high degree of confidence. When measuring the impact of online to offline you need to build models to understand the consumers interactions with your different channels. Below are some things to start doing that will allow you to have a much better understanding of the impact your site is having on your stores.
1. Understanding offline habits on your site: Do a deep dive on what consumers are doing on your site that is related to offline purchasing. Look at sections of your site like Store Finder, Digitized Flyers, Return Policy etc and understand the volume and habits of these consumers. If you are not looking at this already you will be surprised to see the large % of your visitors thats sole purpose is to engage these sections. For some large retail sites this can be well over 50% of traffic. If you don't have some of these basic features on your site move to get them setup ASAP. Store Finders can be setup very quickly through Google Maps and companies like Conversys can quickly get your store flyers setup online. You can also look to setup and measure more advanced store integrations like inventory look-up, promotional databases and in-store pickup. These, when a consumer takes an action to complete, can also be measured as separate conversions on your site allowing you get to a much deeper view into consumer interactions and the success of your website.
2. Couponing and Promotions: Another easy way to measure the impact of your site (and online marketing channels) is to offer exclusive promotions or in-store only coupons that are available only on the site and / or through interactive channels (an exclusive promo email for example). These can be as simple as taking a product that was target for broad promotion (in flyers) and moving it only to the website - they you can measure the growth in sales vs other products in the line-up. More advanced is a special coupon for use in-store that can be collected at POS (if you are lucky) or manually counted to determine the impact. A word of caution on these is that you will need to test it multiple times to understand what motivates your online consumer base and where best to communicate the message. Plan to do a series of exclusive promotions and codes over a couple of months and track progress / impact to the business.
3. Surveying: A much more sophisticated level of measurement is surveying your customer base. This can be ad-hoc where you are polling online and in-store customers about the impact the online business has on in-store shopping behaviours or, and in my opinion the best method, ongoing surveying of the customers on your site. Foresee Results has a great multi-channel survey that is added on top of their base browse product that provides deep insight and understanding of how consumers are using your site in the purchase consideration cycle and the impact it is having on your overall business.
In the end it is important that you are spending time understanding this consumer, not only to improve your overall business but to ensure your are delighting these customer by giving them the experiences and tool on your site they need to complete the task the brought them to your site.