Online vs. Offline

Online vs. Offline – The IDM @ TFM&A Debate

The TFM&A Conference presentations are now available to watch online. One video includes Caroline Rolfe, Zoe Sands, Debbie Williams, Richard Robinson and Sarah Evans debating whether online vs. offline is best concluded by considering consumer purchasing.

There is a huge potential market to sell to online, with 2 billion people in the world now able to access the internet, 46 million of which are in the UK. 31 million of these people are accessing the internet via their mobile phones, which means that retailers can potentially target these consumers on the go. It was explained that two thirds of consumers buy from a new brand because of their digital experience. Retailers can now carefully analyse pro’s and con’s by measuring what consumers do on their websites, how long they spend on them and how much they are spending. In short, online analytics can be used to influence pull marketing.

As a contrast, research shows that 40% of online searches lead to a purchase after receiving influence offline and 60% of searches lead to a given keyword as a result of offline marketing. There is also the problem of a 60% abandonment rate of carts from consumers online; 12% of these give up before they reach the checkout stage. Lengthy processes, registrations and hidden charges are all negative aspects of the online shopping process, and ones that consumers don’t experience in store. However 75% of the sales process starts online including 70% starting with search. This means consumers are researching products, prior to going in store to physically test the products with face to face interaction from a sales representative.

Coming back to the initial argument, it is believed that online is replacing the sales person. With online shopping gaining a larger audience, a retailer website can act as a representative of a brand 100% of the time, 24 hours a day. Another online purchasing influence, which is growing in popularity, is the ability to make recommendations and read reviews. This presents the consumer with unbiased opinions, rather than sales people, persuading them to buy something they do not necessarily want. Retailers also have the ability to retarget online, which means that consumers can be enticed back to a brand, whether this is through a friendly e-mail or discounted products.

The key points, in arguing that offline is more affective then online, all point to the consumer having a personalised experience. Online consumers don’t have that element of human interaction and therefore a retailer cannot clearly know their emotions.

To conclude, online is a user driven business. Retailers produce what consumers want and, at present, more consumers are spending their time and money online; however we will not be seeing the end of bricks and motor stores anytime soon. It is the job of retailers to judge what aspects of online and offline they want to use, in order to enhance their business and ROI in the future. 


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