Omnichannel (holiday) Shopping

In November 2019, Christine Meehan, with Google Consumer Insights reported that “Holiday shoppers may have different approaches to where, how and when they buy, but they also have something in common: their shopping journeys usually start online.”

I’ve included highlights of Christine’s article below (in italics) as well as her recommendations which, if you read them carefully, reminds you that there’s far more to advertising + sales success than utilizing more of Google’s marketing tools to optimize your marketing funnel (using Google's myopic, self centered business model).

The setup of Christine's article is a no brainer: before you buy, people talk to other people, look at ads on and offline (think newspapers, magazines, flyers, out of home ads, transit ads, as well as radio and TV). But the recommendations that Christine leaves you with should get you thinking long and hard because they are misleading 1/2 truths.

100% TRUE: you need a broad  (traditional and online) multi-media advertising campaign based marketing funnel that drives prospects to your (open) store doors and e-commerce website.

100% TRUE: involve all stakeholders in the mobilization of your marketing and advertising plan. To effectively model your brand's unique marketing funnel, lots of heads are better than one.

100% FALSE: your marketing plan should NOT start or end with Google. Despite what Google would like you to think, Google is not a proxy for reality.

Google is just another media option.

Putting that much faith in Google is just plain stupid.

“Last year, a joint holiday report between Google and Ipsos found most Canadian holiday shoppers are omnichannel. They use multiple sources while shopping (such as visiting a website or heading to a store) and split their time almost equally between online and offline channels.

“The holiday season is an opportunity for teams to unite — to think about the reasons why these channels work together, and what holiday shoppers are looking for in an omnichannel experience.

“Holiday shoppers are heading online to decide where to shop. Canadian holiday shoppers are choosing which stores to visit based on their online research. Today’s omnichannel shopper is more informed and intentional.

“The report found that 39% of holiday shoppers were looking up local store information, and 31% were searching for nearby stores.

Of the shoppers using search, millennials are the generation least likely to choose a physical store over an online one, with most of their purchases happening online. However, when they do shop in-store, 82% of millennials are searching online first.

“Omnichannel customers head online to help inform their purchase decision, whether they end up making their purchase (there) or not. 

“Shoppers want to feel more confident. 

“Shoppers are looking for convenience.

“Customers are hunting for deals. 

“With so many Canadians turning to more than one shopping source during the holidays, companies should plan for ways to reach customers online and offline. Although the holiday season has begun, there’s still time to execute omnichannel plans now. Encourage data-sharing between teams — and share success: Facilitate the conversation between online and store teams early, and encourage data sharing to measure success together. Prepare your website and open the doors to your store: Think of your digital ads and online presence as the doors to your online store. Make sure your store product inventory is available online, and holiday hours are updated and accurate on your website and on Google Maps through Google My Business. Keep reviews front-and-centre to greet shoppers, and make sure your mobile site is working and ready to handle the increased load. You can test your website speed with Google tool Test My Site. Drive campaigns to your store: Online advertising doesn’t just drive online sales — it drives omnichannel sales. Adding drive-to-store campaign types and strategies that achieve both online and offline goals will allow you to capture holiday shoppers as they engage with your brand across multiple channels.