Interconnected Retail – Bridging the Gap between Digital and the Physical Store

Despite growing ecommerce sales the vast majority of customers prefer to buy in bricks-and-mortar shops. However, digital – especially mobile – has fundamentally changed the shopping process for those that buy in store too. Teavaro as part of a TM Forum Catalyst Project sponsored by the Orange Group shows how omnichannel retailers can maximize engagement through a predictive customer journey.

Bridging the Gap between Digital and Physical

Despite growing ecommerce sales the vast majority of customers prefer to buy in bricks-and-mortar shops. However, digital – especially mobile – has fundamentally changed the shopping process for those that buy in store too. Omnichannel retailers are increasingly looking at closing the gap between digital channels and the physical store.[i]

Telco customers, for example, typically visit multiple channels (e.g. social, web, retail, call centre, etc.) before completing their purchases.  While most customers start their shopping journey online, 69% of customers turn to retail stores to complete their purchase.[ii]

Retailers and Brands need to meet the customers at the moments that matter. The following model of customer engagement helps mapping customer journeys:

  1. Be Aware: In this phase the consumer recognises a need and learns how to satisfy that need. Companies can support the consumer in providing ideas.
  2. Interact: Once the need is realised and ideas are gathered, consumers approach brands and request more information or concrete offers. The consumer wants to be sure they are getting the best offer.
  3. Choose: In this final stage of the buying process the consumer selects concrete products or services, orders and receives them. Once the consumer has decided to buy in principle, it is important to provide a frictionless shopping experience: 95% of customers said they have not bought in-store and 85% say they have abandoned a shopping cart online despite their buying intent.[iii]

TM Forum Experience Lifecycle Model

For brands to be successful in the buying process, it is of high importance to be present in early phases, as the data from a recent McKinsey study reveals:

“These brands in the initial consideration set were more than two times as likely to be purchased as were brands considered only later in the decision journey. … Overall, 69 percent of the brands purchased by consumers who switched brands were part of their initial consideration set when they started shopping.”

McKinsey Quarterly, February 2017

Interconnected Retail

Companies know that their customers are researching online prior to purchasing in-store, but often are not sure exactly where those customers were conducting their research and which channels were contributing to in-store traffic and sales. And store teams are often not convinced that digital is playing a major role. Take fashion retailer Petit Bateau – they found that 44% of their shop visitors visited their website prior to purchase. And those who interacted with their mobile website not only had an 11% higher conversion rate in store but also an 8% higher average spend.[iv]

As online and physical sales are further intertwined, it is important to remove friction not only from the customer journey but from the retailer by reducing channel conflicts and competing internal marketing strategies. As a result, retailers increasingly credit online sales to in-store employees.

To bridge the gap between digital marketing and physical store, companies need to answer some tough questions:

  • How can they reach consumers digitally in the early “Be aware” phases?
  • How can they identify users across devices and domains and distinguish between prospects and customers?
  • How can they make the digital customer journey data available in store?
  • How can they detect in which phase a customer is and provide the best engagement for that stage?

As part of a TM Forum Catalyst project, we work with Salesforce, Vlocity, Comptel, Comarch and Huawei to demonstrate an end-to-end solution for this challenge. The Project is sponsored by the Orange Group and Artof Arc.

If you would like to stay informed about the outcomes of this project, just subscribe to our newsletter. Or if you have some direct questions or comments, do not hesitate to drop me a line at

[i] Emarketer, February 22nd 2017, What Walmart,Macys and Home Depot Saying About Retail

[ii] J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Wireless Purchase Experience Full-Service Performance StudySM—Volume 1

[iii] Karen McCandless, June 28,2016, Sales trends report 2016: Why your sales strategy is broken and how to fix it.

[iv] Think with Google, July 2016: Shopping Micro Moments: 3 Steps to Set Your Brand Up for Success.

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