What Omnichannel Retailers Can’t Afford to Do Without Location Intelligence

Not content with relying on traditional bricks-and-mortar stores, savvy business strategists know that combining their offline and online sales and marketing channels is essential if they’re to increase their customers and drive business growth. Combining both is what’s known as omnichannel.

Aside from boosting your ROI and profit margin, the omnichannel solution – when applied correctly – provides the customer with a more seamless shopping experience. And in this age of niche customer engagement, businesses are aware that to compete in the demanding world of retail, they must adopt a multi-pronged solution if they want to retain and expand their core customer share.

Omnichannel begins with the word WHERE

To roll out a smart omnichannel strategy, you need to start with the question WHERE? Where do our customers live? Where do they work? Where do they check their e-mails? Where do they shop? Where can we reach them? To answer these questions, businesses need to be as specific as possible by identifying core customer segments. And as the technological landscape grows ever more sophisticated, location intelligence has emerged as a highly useful solution for doing exactly that. Plus, there’s another upside when you’re targeting becomes more finely calibrated. You avoid making the costly analytic errors typical of mass marketing and demographic-only data.

Geography + behaviour = contextual insight

Demographics are all well and good. But now companies are focusing much more on the psychographic elements of their customer profiles. That way they get to target their customers with increasing specificity. For example, it’s no longer enough to say your core demographic is middle-income professionals. A freelancer living rurally might shop exclusively online. A doctor living in the suburbs might prefer to click-and-collect or e-book (i.e. reserve a clothes item to try on in-store at a later date). While for an accountant working in the city it could be just as easy to make a purchase in-store.

Picking out the geographic detail from your customers’ purchasing patterns allows you to tailor your marketing efforts to particular individual preferences. But the trick is to visualise this detail geo-spatially. Viewing your data analysis as mapped realities allows you to adopt a far more nuanced approach to customer targeting. So instead of applying a catch-all method to winning over customers, favour personalised engagement based on contextual insight.

Location data tightens your offline and online channels

Omnichannel success depends on synchronicity. Take two different approaches: 1 = offline, 2 = online.

  1. You know that Mark commutes from his home to work – an area that contains one of your brick-and-mortar stores. Bingo. You have the ideal transit route to put up your out-of-home advertising, like billboards, bus/vehicle wraps and street furniture.
  2. You also know that Mark regularly pops out for lunch and scrolls through his location-enabled mobile device downtown. You’re now provided with the perfect opportunity to customise your digital ads based on his particular location to get him into your nearest store.  

Both approaches come from insights gained from the canny use of location intelligence software data. Now let’s look at another element that’s changing the way marketing strategists now locate their core customers – e-mail intelligence.

Location analytics on the move using e-mail

The days of only opening e-mails from a desktop at home are a thing of the past. E-mails are constantly checked on the go. A 20-something millennial checking e-mails using a smartphone while strolling through the city is a perfect opportunity. For instance, depending on the opener’s location, a real-time map can be included in the e-mail to direct to the nearest store. Similarly, the barcode of a product recently browsed for can be linked to the nearest geographic outlet, making the shopping experience more personalised. These are just some of the ways contextual data can make targeting more precise and relevant to specific customers.

A solution to the ever-changing nature of omnichannel

Whether you’re an exclusively online retailer looking to open your first physical outlet, a bricks-and-mortar operation that needs to establish a digital presence or a company needing to refine your current omnichannel strategy, it’s important to remember that customer location and preference data are not fixed commodities. They don’t sit still. So as population segments shift, you must constantly update your strategy to adapt to the changing market. What location analytics does so effectively is to enhance your predictive ability to forecast these changes. In other words, the more you glean relevant, customer-oriented analysis and make smarter business decisions, the more you can apply what you’ve learned when earmarking future locations to expand your business.

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