By Theo Theodorou, Head of EMEA at xAd Inc

For retailers looking to breathe new life into their ad campaigns, omni-channel retailing offers a massive opportunity to deliver captivating and relevant content, especially via location-based targeting. Among Britons online, smartphones are the most common internet-enabled device (1.7 per household), followed by laptops (1.3) and tablets (1.2), according to recent IAB/PwC data. As consumers become more and more dependent on their smartphones, mobile (and omni-channel retailing) holds the power to supercharge offline ad campaigns in a growing number of ways.

Not only can mobile be harnessed to push shoppers to the website and drive footfall into stores, but it can also help convert those vital bricks-and-mortar sales for retailers with a presence on the high street. In the omni-channel battlefield, location data goes far beyond just the “where” to better define the “who” and what a customer might be interested in.

By looking at a user’s offline behaviour patterns, retailers can not only begin to understand what a potential customer likes through frequency of visitation and affinities, but they can also understand more about who they actually are. By using this data you can build a more precise view of who your audience actually is, setting them up to deliver a joined up customer experience across channels.

Which retailers are doing this well?

Successful retailers are capitalising on the omni-channel environment to drive customers along their purchase journey and interact with them to upsell or cross-sell. Today, shoppers are just as likely to find a product as they browse on the go, before heading into a store to purchase. In fact, 25% of mobile shoppers stated they are more likely to go on to make a purchase in a physical store after researching it online, according to our Mobile Path to Purchase study.

With more and more retail browsing coming from mobile, smartphones are becoming a vital part of researching for traditional ecommerce and brick-and-mortar shopping. For example, luxury retailer Burberry is ahead of the competition on digital with the company’s own version of click-and-collect now accounting for 20% of all digital sales. With an understanding of the need for customer convenience as well as personalised experiences, Burberry is using digital, and particularly mobile, as a glue to develop brand-customer connections in store or out.

Is there a difficulty in developing digitally, whilst maintaining traditional aspects?

When retailers see a marketing divide between online and offline spheres, it’s not uncommon for companies to have separate print, web and social marketing teams using different strategies and launching campaigns that are in no way connected. However, when customers are looking for a continuous experience, the winning brands in 2015 and beyond will be those that align their offline, physical presence with a strategic online marketing campaign.

For many years, retailers have run offline- or online-only standalone campaigns. But with m-commerce making up 22% of global ecommerce (roughly $80B), according to research by eMarketer, it is clear that the e-commerce industry is at a point of relative maturity with m-commerce now in high-growth mode. The same study revealed that, by 2019, m-commerce will make up 28% of e-commerce ($153B).

This shift is putting increased pressure on retailers to optimise their mobile strategy, especially when changing consumer habits mean that individuals are likely to use a variety of devices and channels before making a purchase. Through mobile, retailers now have the opportunity to assert their presence over their location(s) by extending their reach from the shop floor to its surrounding area– online or offline. For example, by offering promotions on mobile when a target audience or potential customer is in the local area.

Advertisers can also extend their outdoor advertising through mobile in the same way. The perfect example is while at a train station on your way home after work; you happen to be near an M&S billboard, you then receive an M&S meal deal on your phone (and M&S happens to be a few feet away from you). When customers flit so easily between these channels, retailers cannot ignore the power of online to both drive customers along their purchase journey and interact with them to upsell.