Offline vs. Online strategies: How retail marketers can bridge the gap

Joshua Wilson, Commercial Director (JAPAC) of Crimtan, shares his insights on why and how retail marketers bridge the gap between their offline and online strategies in this interview.

Although e-commerce penetration in Asia-Pacific is expected to reach 35% by 2026, offline sales will still account for the majority of retail sales (65%), according to CBRE research. This means that retailers need to adopt an omnichannel strategy to reach their customers, both online and offline.

However, many retailers in the region are still struggling to integrate their brick-and-mortar and e-commerce strategies due to inadequate coordination between their marketing teams, who may be working in silos. To be successful in the future, retailers need to break down these silos and develop a truly integrated omnichannel experience for their customers.

Joshua Wilson, Commercial Director (JAPAC) of Crimtan, shared his expert insights on why and how retail marketers bridge the gap between their offline and online strategies in this MartechAsia interview.

What makes a good omnichannel retail strategy?

A good omnichannel retail strategy seamlessly integrates offline and online channels to deliver a captivating customer experience. By leveraging technology and customer insights, it ensures consistency, personalisation, and convenience across all touchpoints.

This strategy enables customers to engage meaningfully with the brand throughout all the different points of their customer journey and through their preferred channels – anytime, anywhere.

A great omnichannel retail strategy breaks down barriers, fosters brand loyalty, and drives business growth by meeting customer expectations in today’s interconnected world.

What are the important benefits of merging offline and online strategies for APAC marketers?

Currently, many businesses operate with separate offline and online teams, leading to fragmented efforts and inconsistent messaging. By merging these strategies, marketers can unlock several advantages.

Firstly, it enables improved coordination and consistency. Bringing offline and online teams together encourages better communication and alignment in marketing efforts. This ensures that messaging, creative assets, and promotions are unified, resulting in a cohesive brand image across all touchpoints.

Moreover, there is often a disconnect between communicating with customers within a brand’s ecosystem, such as email or text, and reaching them outside of it. By integrating offline and online approaches, marketers can bridge this gap and create more personalised and relevant communication. By adopting a holistic approach, businesses can strengthen their customer relationships while enhancing customer engagement.

Merging offline and online strategies also provides a more comprehensive view of customer behaviour. While retailers work on sorting out their first-party data, combining offline and online data allows marketers to gain insights into customer interactions both within and outside their ecosystem. This valuable data helps identify new customer acquisition opportunities and informs marketing decisions.

From a business perspective, merging strategies optimises marketing ROI. Businesses must make informed decisions on resource allocation, budget optimisation, and campaign adjustments, maximising ROI. They can do that by analysing data from both online and offline touchpoints, which then helps their marketers identify the most effective channels and tactics for customer engagement, conversions, and sales.

Lastly, merging offline and online strategies enables marketers to create a unified customer journey that seamlessly transitions customers from offline interactions to online engagements, and vice versa. This consistency enhances customer satisfaction, builds brand loyalty, and drives repeat business, which helps create a seamless customer experience that is crucial for success.

Thus, merging offline and online strategies brings significant benefits to APAC marketers. It improves coordination, enhances customer engagement, provides a holistic view of customer behaviour, optimises ROI, and delivers a seamless customer experience. By breaking down silos and leveraging the strengths of both channels, marketers can create a unified and effective marketing approach that drives business growth in the digital era.

Joshua Wilson, Commercial Director (JAPAC) of Crimtan

What is the current state of integrated retail offerings in Southeast Asia, and how can they affect marketing?

It is apparent that in Southeast Asia, marketing teams are operating in silos. While retailers in the region are actively working on sorting out their first-party data, there remains a significant disconnect between communicating with customers within their own ecosystems (such as email and text) and reaching those customers outside of their ecosystem — this disconnect hinders retailers’ ability to acquire new customers, which is essential for business growth.

At the same time, this fragmented retail landscape’s impact on marketing is notable. Firstly, the lack of integration among brands and marketing teams limits the ability to deliver consistent messaging and experiences across offline and online channels. This inconsistency can lead to confusion among customers and dilute brand identity.

Secondly, the disconnect between communicating with customers within and outside the brand’s ecosystem poses challenges in understanding and engaging with customers effectively. Retailers invest significant efforts in collecting and analysing first-party data to gain valuable insights into customer preferences and behaviours. However, without the ability to bridge the gap and communicate with customers beyond their ecosystem, marketers miss out on opportunities to personalise and tailor their marketing efforts for better engagement.

What are the key strategies APAC businesses can adopt to close the gap between offline and online marketing?

Businesses should create a cohesive marketing ecosystem that maximises reach, engagement, and ultimately drives success in the digital age. Here are the key strategies businesses can adopt to work towards that and bridge the gap between offline and online marketing in APAC – Leveraging technology, First party data strategy, personalisation and a culture shift in the workplace.

    1. Leveraging Technology for Offline-Online Integration

      Businesses can explore technologies that bring visibility to offline purchases influenced by online activities. Geo-impact analysis, for instance, enables tracking and analysis of purchases made offline, driven by online engagement. Solutions like footfall attribution using in-app data signals or tools such as Foursquare and Lifesight can help understand customer behaviour across channels.

    2. Implementing a First Party Data Strategy

      To effectively bridge the gap, businesses should prioritise building a first-party data strategy. Collecting and organising customer data across touchpoints allows for a deeper understanding of individual preferences and behaviours. With a robust data strategy, businesses can target and engage customers more effectively, regardless of the channel they choose.

    3. Personalisation through Audience Segmentation

      Breaking audiences into specific groups based on their preferences and behaviours is key. By employing dynamic creative optimisation (DCO) strategies, businesses can personalise their marketing messages and experiences to cater to the needs of various audience segments. Understanding the preferences and shopping habits of customers who prefer online versus in-store experiences can inform strategies, call-to-actions (CTAs), key performance indicators (KPIs), and more, tailoring them for each group.

    4. Working Towards a Common Goal

      Last but definitely not least, alignment between offline and online marketing teams is crucial.

      It is important to foster better communication, planning, and understanding between digital and traditional media/marketing teams. Encouraging regular interactions, sharing insights, and aligning goals can help break down silos and build a unified approach.

      Also, by defining a shared objective, such as increasing overall sales or improving customer experience, both teams can work collaboratively towards achieving it. This shared goal fosters a coordinated strategy that bridges the offline-online divide.

How does Crimtan help companies bridge the gap between offline and online marketing strategies?

One way Crimtan helps companies bridge the gap between offline and online marketing strategies is through Total Media Attribution (TMA), where all touch points across online and offline channels are considered. This advanced statistical model, or media mix model, assumes that the impact of marketing is not short-term, global, consistent, and easy to capture. Instead, marketers should expect delays, regional impact, channels to perform differently and diverse ways of capturing results. 

This method allows brands to thoroughly understand which marketing channels contribute to customer engagement and conversion, and how they should allocate their marketing budget accordingly. Furthermore, marketers can predict precisely where their returns will come from and ensure their marketing strategy is optimised for maximum impact by implementing an intelligent, connected media approach. Using TMA, we have seen prediction accuracy reach a statistically significant 95%, helping our clients allocate marketing spend more strategically.

With a holistic understanding of marketing effectiveness, companies can then reallocate budgets, adjust messaging, and identify the most impactful channels, which ensures efficient allocation of resources across both online and offline channels.

In addition to Total Media Attribution, Crimtan also leverages its expertise in Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO) to help companies achieve the goal of bridging the gap between offline and online strategies.

DCO allows companies to send the right messages at the right time and place. For retailers, DCO provides the ability to plug into their product feed. This means that businesses can now tie in their messaging with their in-store trade calendar, and also personalise creative based on how customers have engaged on their website.

DCO also helps companies to generate a better ROI as it reaches new users who are more likely to convert rather than re-targeting the same person repeatedly. Moreover, it aligns creative messaging with lifecycle stages instead of showing the same generic message to everyone.

BWS, an Australian retail chain of liquor stores owned by Endeavour Group leveraged DCO to tie in their marketing and trade calendar with their programmatic display activities. This resulted in the brand’s average order value to increase by 6% across new and existing customers compared to other channels.

By bridging this gap through Total Media Attribution (TMA) and Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO), Crimtan enables companies to optimise their strategies and maximise their return on investment.