As company after company has filed for bankruptcy or announced mass store closures, I'm reminded both of my question about how retailers are measuring stores and my ideas for how retailers can use stores to enhance the customer experience.
Regardless of whether retailers are thinking about either of these topics, there are obvious ways to leverage existing stores to drive sales in any or all channels.
My client, Euclid Analytics, is driving a number of these strategies by providing customer profiles (including e-mail addresses) based on store visits. This information can be used to unlock cross-channel marketing opportunities in numerous ways.
First, we're all familiar with "abandoned cart" e-mails that remind us when we've added an item to an online shopping bag but haven't completed the purchase. These e-mails are very effective. With the Euclid/AgilOne integration, Joann Fabrics will send similar e-mails to customers who visited a store but didn't check out.
Second, Joann is using Euclid’s profiles with in-store behavioral data to refine lookalike ad targeting and find more customers with a propensity to visit stores, as those tend to be high-value customers. Then, additional tactics can be activated to drive store visits.
Third, customers of Euclid can use what they know about a customer’s past multichannel behavior to send him or her an offer of some kind when she re-enters the store (rather than just re-targeting her online).
Finally, buy-online-pickup-in-store has become a normative expectation and online conversion rates are higher when customers know they can return in-store (yes, despite the headlines about how people don't want to visit stores, that's where the vast majority - 85%+ in my experience - of returns happen).
When compared with the risks of overemphasizing sales per square foot as a retail store metric, the opportunities to leverage stores for cross-channel sales undoubtedly are a better way to justify an ongoing investment in physical retail. At a minimum, collecting in-store customer profiles so as to link any given person's store visit to a multi-channel path-to purchase seems essential when making decisions about whether to close stores.