Something strange is happening in business.

For many years we’ve been told digital businesses were going to be the biggest winners in the future economy. Why then are so many businesses with roots in digital beginning to open physical stores and services?

Amazon, Everlane, and Allbirds are just some of the E-commerce brands that have opened physical retail stores in recent years. And they’re set to be joined by 850 more in the next 5 years.

As consumers, we’re shopping more in stores too. In 2018 49% of consumers shopped in a physical store compared to 36% in 2014, according to PwC’s 2019 Global Consumer Insights Study.

The reason for this is simple. It’s experience.

In-store shoppers can experience and feel the products they’re buying. They get a sense of what the company stands for. And there’s also an element of convenience, such as speed and being able to make alterations.

The breakthrough formula

The unrelenting influence of experience is why the real winners in the future economy will be those able to seamlessly blend and move between the physical and digital worlds.

Customer behavior online correlates with that in the real world. At Qualtrics X4 Summit we heard from Buzzfeed’s Ashmeed Ali about how the media publisher used its Tasty platform to develop a real-life product that has created a new revenue stream and increased customer loyalty and advocacy.

According to Ali, the formula for bringing digital into real-life is accessibility, engagement, and action. Having seamless access to data helping you to understand how your brand performs in each of these areas is critical if you’re going to break through.

Bringing people together over a shared love of food

Accessibility is about knowing where your customers consume the content you create. For Tasty this was predominantly through social media, with videos on Facebook and Twitter regularly achieving up to 3 million views. Inspired by this knowledge Tasty was able to leverage online communities and influencers, as well as popular hashtags – #adulting is a particular favorite – to amplify content, increase reach, and boost awareness.

The next stage in bringing digital to life is engaging with customers – or as Tasty refers to it, converting viewers to doers. Fundamentally, engagement is delivering your product in a simple and effortless way. That’s why it’s incredibly important you analyze behavior to learn how customers behave when on-site. Are they purchasing products then and there, or coming back later at a more suitable time? Does their dwell time increase for a specific product type? Is there a specific point in the buying cycle where customers tend to drop off?

Being able to answer these questions is critical if you’re going to successfully move to the next stage – action. You need to be able to inspire action if you’re going to break down the barrier between the physical and digital worlds, says Ali.

Analyzing its customer experience data enabled Tasty to identify gaps in the service it was delivering, and which prevented people moving along the buyer journey. In response, Tasty has partnered with Walmart to launch a kitchen product range, and with Nestle on a line of ice cream.

Who would have thought a digital media publisher would launch a line of kitchen products and food?

Extend the experience across the customer journey

Understanding how your customers engage with your brand and why they behave the way they do throughout the journey enables you to create a breakthrough experience, which is an invaluable point of differentiation. What Tasty has achieved – by turning a digital publisher into a food brand – demonstrates anything is possible when it comes to experience.

By understanding your customer journey you have the opportunity to study opportunities for diversification. So in the experience economy, never be afraid to experiment and try new things because these could end up being your breakthrough experiences.

Bring your digital experience to life with Qualtrics

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