Further to my post about the Cadbury study of digital advertising proving offline sales, here is another good attempt at encouraging customers into multi-channel behaviour and measuring the influence online has on offline sales.
According to NMA, Sainburys is sending targeted emails from their Nectar card database, inviting customers to review items online that they purchased in-store. Online reviews has been one of the cornerstones of the digital revolution since Amazon made it a customer favourite in the mid 90’s. Although it wasn’t initially popular with retailers to have poor product reviews made public with the resulting panic attack that footfall or sales would decline, for those who have been willing to adapt, it’s given them valuable information about purchasing and product development. Bazaarvoice has some great studies on their site about how retailers have been able to improve their profitability by listening to this direct feedback from online customers with a scalability not possible in the offline world. Increasingly, consumers won’t purchase items online without a review and most retailers now accept that their sites won’t perform unless they use them. But as we know, most purchases still happen in the offline world and this adds an incredible amount of data to the entire integrated sales picture. Sainburys is using this initiative primarily to increase the response rate on targeted promotions, but I like it because online customers now have more information with which to make better purchases for themselves.
This latest bid to measure the impact of online influence to offline sales is only the beginning and has been long time in coming. Yahoo and Google have been running high profile projects in this area for the last couple of years as it’s core to increasing their business during this new phase of online maturity. And another new data source could have significant impact on these studies. American Express has just launched a new data analytics tool which uses actual purchase information aggregated from it’s 90 million card member database. This allows a strategic planning with real purchase data, that can be used to overlay with online/offline customer behaviour. It gives an external view of the customer, which combined with a company’s own customer data from the various channels, could completely change how and where they advertise.