Integrating online and offline social networks

While making the home assignment about online social networks, my attention was tracked to the omnichannel integration between online and offline. The omnichannel business model aims to deliver a seamless customer experience regardless of the channel. (Piotrowicz; Cuthbertson, 2014). The increasing use of mobile devices and social networks makes the separation between traditional online–physical channel redundant, as the lines between channels are blurred. This strategy includes mobile and social networks as new channels, balancing privacy and customization, and redesigning their supply chain network, while at the same time keeping in mind different customer requirements. The need for channel integration, the impact of mobile technologies, the growing role of social media, the changing role of physical brick-and-mortar stores, the need to respond to diverse customer requirements, the balance between personalization and privacy, and, finally, supply chain redesign are key.

An example to introduce this as a company is the Fliike real-time Facebook ‘Like’-counter. It updates the Facebook page likes of a company in real time. The companies put a scoreboard in in their store and people can see how much other people like the Facebook page of the concerning company.
Another example is CloudTags. The customers will get a tablet while shopping offline. By this, they are able to see all the information, videos and recommendations about the products. The customer can buy their stuff offline in store or online with their account at home. The store is able to track the activity of the user online. It improved the customer experience, data for the company but also the sales! (Nichols, 2014)

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When customers feel valued, they will be more willing to buy, what is key for companies I think. The example about the likes will lead to attention for the store and their Facebook page at that moment. More people will like the page, which means the company is able to get their attention for a longer time. The expectations of consumers become higher; they want to compare prices, quality, brands but also experiences. CloudTags is a good example of combining these stuff in their online and offline store. I think there are two important focus points. At first, create a social network strategy. Companies are able to learn from the free(!) opinions of customers and are able to reach a lot of people. Besides that, the content is very important. When you look at the example of Cloudtags, it is proved that people do appreciate information about the products they are interested in. Retailers need to continue focussing on creating valuable, relevant content. This content has to be distributed when the customers need it (wherever in the customer buyer journey), online and offline.


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