If you have anything to do with the running of a large website, you’ll be aware of just how much online data is at your disposal. Aside from just skimming insights about general demographic patterns, you now have access to tools which take a deep dive into the real-time motivations, priorities and shopping habits of online visitors.
It’s an insanely exciting time. The opportunity that comes with a greater understanding of online visitor behavior is immense; deeper relationships, increased sales, improved CX.
Of course, consumers don’t live exclusively online. Even though they produce data points, they’re not numbers in a spreadsheet. They’re people. Real, breathing humans whose behavior is situationally dependant; they don’t necessarily behave the same way offline as they do online. In order to get an accurate picture of their shopping behavior, it’s critical to have a full view of their purchase journeys.
The power of offline data
Which is why Amazon’s landmark $14bn Whole Foods merger is such an explosive proposition. Although the online giant has flirted with the possibilities of offline stores before (in 2015 it opened a half-dozen book stores across the US and, this year, should be opening its first checkout-free grocery store in Seattle) this is the first time that it has firmly planted its flagpole in the world of offline shopping.
It wasn’t a move that went unnoticed. To some, it came from leftfield. But when you consider the business need to maintain a competitive advantage by learning more about consumer behavior, it makes complete sense. Amazon already has one of the biggest global databases of online visitor behavior. After the Whole Foods takeover, its knowledge of holistic customer journeys will be almost unparalleled.
Knowledge is becoming more powerful
With its new intelligence, Amazon should be able to differentiate between the purchases which should be fulfilled online and those which have better offline conversion. And it can direct consumers towards the most profitable avenue. That’s just one benefit of the merger.
Power lies in gaining a true understanding of each consumer’s complete purchase journey. That’s why Amazon’s bought out Whole Foods. That’s why Walmart has gone on a recent spending spree, buying etailers like Jet, Moosejaw and ModCloth. And that’s why every business leader should hone their focus on bridging the gap between their online and offline operations.
Bridging the gap between online and offline
Very few businesses have the means to make the investments that Amazon has made. But most businesses have the ability to increase sales, improve CX and decrease cost-to-serve by bridging the on/offline gap.
Take contact channels as an example. Data collected during online journeys is rarely, if ever, fed into conversations that an online visitor may have with an advisor in the call center. Likewise, these offline conversations are rarely fed back into the digital ecosystem leading to cannibalization of sales. By joining up this on- and offline data, businesses will easily be able to increase conversion.
When a dominant online force like Amazon makes such a big investment in the offline world, you sit up and take notice. Offline data is important. And, if you take a minute, you’ll probably realize that your business could be making better use of it.