Identity crisis: are you a different customer online than you are in-store?

In Customer Experience, Featured on App, Loyalty & CRM, Marketing and Sales by Kevin Kelly

identitycrisis,,brick & mortar, online experience, ecommerce, loyal customer, CRM, marketing, marketing strategies, strategy

The Wall Street Journal posited a very important question today in the debate between brick and mortar stores and ecommerce:

"Is there a difference between the two types—the online customer and the walk-in buyer?"

Lettie Teague framed this question in her analysis of a wine seller's marketing strategy: he mixes personal ruminations with wine selling techniques to craft unique personal emails sent to his customers. The takeaway—it works.

But the core of the article suggests an important trend that all companies must consider: the customer that walks into the store necessitates an entirely different treatment than the customer that establishes an online relationship with you.

The article further suggests that in store customers are much more ‘mainstream' wine clients than those who email, often looking for a specialized product. Does this insight alter the way in which say, loyalty programs function differently in-store and online? Specialized online CRM and generic brick and mortar CRM? Is the in-store experience meant for browsing and the online experience for focused shopping?

I don't think so.

Email marketing has the ability to specialize and so does an attendant in a store but in entirely different ways. Email marketing utilizes personal data of a customer to craft a message that aligns with their supposed needs. A store attendant can read the customer and literally ask about their experience and needs. By extension, I would argue that the customer can also ask general and focused questions both online and in person.

What are your thoughts? Is there really a blanket statement that can generalize the differences of these two experiences?

Learn more about these topics at the US 2013 Customer Festival this October where top marketers and c-levels will be discussing tangible CRM solutions.

[image – flickr anna jarske]