CMOs and Retail’s New Digital Divide

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 8.18.53 AMUnderstanding how customers digitally engage while shopping on line helps CMOs quantify the effect of these interactions on in-store purchase behavior. A recent Deloitte Digital study concluded the ongoing growth of digital influence—the degree to which consumer use of digital and mobile technologies during the shopping journey impacts in-store sales—extended the gap between consumers’ digital expectations and retailers’ ability to deliver.

Three key insights for Navigating the New Digital Divide are important for CMOs to consider:

  1. “Showrooming” is misunderstood. CMOs fear losing sales to showrooming—the consumer practice of using digital devices in-store to comparison shop and later purchase from a cheaper online competitor. Current analysis debunks the showrooming myth. While not to say it doesn’t happen, what we find more broadly is that customers who use digital devices in-store are actually more likely to make a purchase, not less.
  2. Shoppers carefully curate their purchase journey. Research revealed unprecedented consumer access to information from a variety of sources is draining retailer influence. Marketing teams carefully construct retail brand messages and images, but customers place their trust in sources they believe are most authentic—sources that retailers don’t necessarily control. Without engaging the retailer, shoppers’ research products, compare prices, read and write reviews, and build wish lists and shopping carts.
  3. Digital and mobile influence varies by category. The types of digital interactions vary by product category, ranging from 31 percent of all in-store sales for the food and beverage industry up to 62 percent for the electronics industry, suggesting retail marketing strategies and investments should vary by category. Mobile influence (a subset of the digital influence figure) for those same industries follows a similar pattern.

This blog post, originally published on Deloitte’s CMO blog, further explains four strategies that CMOs can use to boost their brands. If the original link ever disappears from the Deloitte website and I haven’t had the time to tend to it yet, a PDF version of it is archived here.

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