Importance of Physical Touchpoints in a Digital Retail Ecosystem

In a world obsessed with technology, high-speed internet, and fancy apps it's easy to forget about the simple power of touch. In fact, according to a study by Procter & Gamble, 96% of customers believe that touching a product is very important in their shopping process.

However, companies are not putting this into practice. Only 10% of shoppers actually have the opportunity to feel the merchandise before purchase.

A growing trend has emerged where companies are starting to provide touchpoints for consumers throughout their shopping journey. Providing more opportunities for customers to touch a product can help make them fall in love with it. It is estimated that if you provide customers an opportunity to experience your product three times during their shopping process you will increase sales by 50%. Although there are many areas where companies can set up touchpoints, here are some of the most popular ones:

1) The Store or Sales Associate

Customers like to be assisted at almost every step during their purchase process (excluding online - more on that later). If you're an eCommerce store and do not have a physical space, how can you provide touchpoints? Some companies like Nordstrom and Burberry offer customers the opportunity to interact with products online, usually through branded pages. These brand curated webpages allow customers to search for products from their site on Facebook or from their app. In addition, these websites often allow shoppers to read reviews as well as watch videos of influencers talking about the product. This level of engagement provides a more tactile experience for consumers - one that is simply not possible without it.

2) Digital Touchpoints

Not only are physical touchpoints important but digital ones as well! For example, Amazon allows users access to a Kindle library where they can preview the first chapter of any e-book. This allows customers to get a feel for the book before they pay for it so that you don't waste your time or money on something you won't like.

3) Press and Social Media

It is no secret that social media has become one of today's leading marketing platforms. However, just because the majority of content these days is consumed digitally does not mean that physical touchpoints are unimportant - especially for companies that work in fashion, beauty, food, entertainment, etc., which largely rely on word-of-mouth advertising rather than paid ads (e.g. Sephora). According to an article written by Christine Muhlke, editor at large at New York Magazine, "the beauty of a product is utterly undone if the influencer hasn't had a personal experience with it."

Although, there are many tactics that companies can use to get their products in front of the public - having a good sense of touch and visual appearance can go along way. For example, Sephora allows you to swatch almost every single lipstick on display so that customers can get a better look at how it looks before buying it. In addition, Amazon has partnered with Amazon Vine which gives Amazon access to trustworthy influencers who have been able to provide honest feedback on products from new brands. This program is advantageous because Amazon gets products early and influencers gain full access which helps them produce richer content for their followers.

4) Feedback

Having a community is key to ensuring the survival of any business, especially online. Companies are starting to notice this and are trying their best to keep customers happy. For example, Birchbox's new program called 'Birchbloggers' allows customers have access to product testing opportunities - including offering them products for free in exchange for an honest review on Instagram or Twitter. According to an article published by Tech Crunch, "There are benefits for us both ways with these partnerships -- the brands get genuine feedback that helps them improve their products, while we can test new things before committing our cash."

Additionally, companies like Zappos allow you the opportunity to read customer reviews about each product whether it is on their website or on a third-party retailer's product description. This way, customers can get a better sense of what the product looks and feels like before purchasing it - ultimately helping them make an informed decision.

In conclusion, although many marketers have realized that touch is one of the most important senses to engage in marketing today, there are still some companies that have yet to catch onto this trend. However, if more companies were able to understand how powerful a tool that engaging with customers through touchpoints was then hopefully they would then be more inclined to implement these tactics into their marketing campaigns. We hope you enjoyed our insights!

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