Online Customers Shop Offline Too!

With more and more businesses adding online stores or e-commerce systems to their offerings, the need to present a uniform business image is becoming increasingly important.

In the past there’s been a trend amongst many businesses to treat their online presence as a completely separate entity. However, as the Internet becomes more and more mainstream in terms of online buying, the need to make online customers feel comfortable with a brand is also growing in importance.

Online consumers expect to see a consistent brand image in order to be reassured that they are receiving the same level of service that offline customers are.

The Australian pizza industry is one market where there’s a range of approaches. Of the three major pizza chains in Australia, one provides a very slick online experience, allowing coupons to be added, pickup or delivery options specified and most importantly uniform pricing across all marketing channels. That is, the prices advertised in mailbox drops, TV commercials, coupons and online ads are all uniform.

This is a critical factor for an industry such as pizza, where traditionally phone orders have been the primary ordering method. Online ordering in an industry such as pizza doesn’t create a huge deal of cost savings over phone ordering, but it does give customers more convenience.

By contrast, one of their competitors has a scatter-gun approach to pricing and uniform marketing. Prices advertised on TV often can’t be ordered online, certain coupons are only able to used by phone and what a potential customer is faced with is a bizarre form of brand confusion whereby the same company is advertising across multiple mediums a completely different range of products.

However, this particular case is not unique. Countless businesses fall into the same trap of thinking there are two different types of customers; 1) ones that buy online, and 2) ones that don’t. The distinction is not so black and white anymore, and many customers will feel comfortable using both.

But this multi-channel shopper needs to see a certain degree of pricing and brand uniformity, or else they will likely switch to a competing provider.

Craig Somerville is a Director at Reload Media, having worked extensively on the digital and online strategies of leading companies within Australia and around the world. With a background in marketing and economics, Craig's unique experience offers great insight into how the world of search and online marketing is changing in today's rapid marketplace. He is also a Google AdWords Qualified Professional and regularly consults on all aspects of digital marketing including search engine optimisation (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and social media.