90% of purchases are made offline. According to the Wall Street Journal, eventhough visits in store have decreased, stores revenue is higher by 15% in 2016 in comparison to 2012. However, this fact does not mean that digital is not important in retail: the online searches prior to store visit have increased by 7% between 2012 and 2016. As soon as the customer enters the store, he knows what and why he wants to buy. For that purpose, the Multichannel strategies are emerging. The customers are doing some research on the internet before going into a store. Today, “banking, retail, and other sectors are still struggling to devise the perfect cross-channel experiences for their customers—experiences that take advantage of digitization to provide customers with targeted, just-in-time product or service information in an effective and seamless way” (Article from Mckinsey in June 2014).

Source: ShopperTrack data for November/December 2015 as cited in Wall Street Journal

5 highlights combining physical and virtual within customer journey to meet their needs:

  1. The power of research and comparison

Digital is essential within the purchasing experience, especially through SEO which constitutes the first step into the consumer pathway. Indeed, the customer searches for information into products and services on a search engine and looks at opinions on social media apps or forums. Browsing on search engine is mostly followed by the brand website. As most of those research are made on mobile and tablet, websites have to be responsive in order to convince the future consumer.

Digital time spent with digital
Source: Millward Brown 2015, data 2014.


  1. In-store visits

A good multichannel strategy has to provide the customers with all the necessary tools to prepare the store visit and to create traffic into physical point of sale (POS) which, today, still represent the main retail experience. Digital is efficiently answering to the online / offline optimisation. “Store driver” or “store locator” coupled with localised promotions are digital displays enabling retailers to reach their objectives. The “click & collect” digital device enables the consumer to buy online on the brand website and to collect the product in store. The consumer saves time and the for the retailer is creating traffic in store.


  1. In store experience

The physical visit of the store is crucial within the consumer journey. It is the physical touchpoint between the customer and the brand. Digital induction in store is merging perfectly with the customer experience. In some stores, you can access directly to the website content enhancing the communication and the comprehension between the seller and the customer, to avoid painful waiting time in the queue, to collect opinions and to have access to the brand offer. This online and offline approach enhances the customer implication within the purchasing process.

In November 2016, Orange opens its first fully equipped digital store in Paris. The aim of the project is for Orange to show its supremacy in the digital world: the brand understands tomorrow’s customers’ needs. Digital tools are perfectly integrated in customers purchasing journey in the store by keeping the “physical communication” between the sellors and the customer and by removing the negative effect of standing in line .


  1. The purchasing decision

As store revenues have increased since 2012 and store visits have decreased (from the graph above), retailers work on increasing the conversion rate. Digitizing customer journey enable to make this step more interactive, useful and, hopefully, playful. The purchase has to be easy and fun. The contactless payment is one solution.

In the US, Starbucks has adopted the contactless payment with “Square Wallet”. This service is accessible on the brand app which enable the customer to pay online by scanning the QR code linked to his bank account.

  1. The post-purchase phase

keep in touch and maintain the communication with the customer

The consumer journey continues after the purchase. Indeed, in order to strengthen the customer’s loyalty, the retailer has to take into account the after-sale service issue for the multichannel strategy.

SNCF has completely withdrawn with its physical complaint service. Forums, dedicated Twitter and Facebook pages, website help the customer to save time by finding the answer / solution instantaneously.


However, by digitizing the customer journey, retailers have to deal with 3 main issues:

  1. Multichannel sales: offer to the customer a consistent purchasing experience if it is online, on the phone or in store.
  2. Online investment: it is a huge and risky investment which it is not, systematically, compensated by the brand growth.
  3. Mobility: mobile customer pathway development through digital offers and the “internet of things”.


Although, it remains difficult to companies to keep up with new digital tools and standards which are shifting constantly.