One of the truly interesting developments of technological advancement over the past decade has been the ever more symbiotic relationship that exists between the online and offline realms. Digital and physical no longer operate as separate entities. One feeds into the other, and our lives tend to move seamlessly between the two.
A merging together that’s bringing about new opportunities, new ways to harness online technology for the betterment of offline service.
I recently followed a discussion online about the plight of the high street travel agents. Of how they have suffered at the hands of the internet, and the ability for consumers to book their own holidays and travel through easy to navigate websites.
You could have the same discussions about insurance agencies, financial advisors or fashion stores. The act of searching for a fortnight in Ibiza, a better buildings and contents policy, or a new pair of jeans is easy to do online. And, if you know what you want, then why wouldn’t you just click and purchase from the comfort of your own home?
That’s what the internet and online technology offers – convenience.
But what about expertise and experience?
A family trip to Disney World might be one of those great once-in-a-lifetime holidays, booked during that window when the kids are young enough to enjoy, but old enough to mean you have to plan around school holidays. You can book this online in a matter of seconds.
But do you know:
- The best accommodation for your party?
- The best days to visit the different parks?
- How to avoid the incessant queues?
- What rides are being refurbished at the time you’re thinking of going?
We may well search for holidays or financial products online, but aren’t there times when you need a bit of guidance to ensure that you’re spending your money on the right thing?
The buying journey may start online, but, frequently, the delivery of the product or service will occur in the good old-fashioned physical domain. We might want the convenience of booking our child into their swimming lesson from our mobile phone, or ordering a pizza on our iPad on the commute home. But we still want the child to go to the swimming pool and receive a lesson from a qualified instructor, we still want the pizza to arrive when we want it.
What businesses need to understand, is how to combine their online and offline engagements such that it provides a seamless and wholly satisfying experience for the customer.
Online search and research is an integral part of the buying journey, of that there is no doubt. But it should not mean the death knell for those offering offline products and services.
As much as we all enjoy the convenience that the internet brings, there is still very much a place for personal service, and still a considerable amount of value in trusted voices of expertise.
The internet and technology shouldn’t be a threat but a glorious opportunity for those whose primary service still exists in the physical world. It’s a platform to build awareness in your brand and your expertise, and the platform from which you can engage your clients, encouraging them to engage with you, to ask you questions.
And, ultimately to visit your stores,book onto your courses, and purchase your wares.
To learn more about utilising online channels to harness offline engagement download our white paper.
At thinkBooker, we specialise in online booking systems for training courses, classes, activities and events – optimised for efficiency, growth and ongoing client satisfaction.