Trends // Offline & Online Merging

This week I want to explore some trends that I see in the general culture . . . and wonder about their potential impact on the local church world.  I’d love your thoughts on my wonderings!

I’m seeing an increasing trend towards merging the best of online commerce with offline retail in a number of new and creative ways.  Check out these stats that I bumped into that speak to these realities in the retail world . . .

  • 8 out of 10 consumers research purchases online. While 42% research online and then buy online, 51% research online and then buy in-store (Source: Google & IPSOS OTX, September 2010).
  • E-commerce conversion rates have been hovering around 2-3.5% while brick-and-mortar conversion rates for  retailers have been around 20-25% (Source: Verdict Research, May 2010).
  • Of the 40% of US consumers who own smart phones, 70% use their smartphones while shopping in-store (Source: Google & IPSOS OTX, April 2011).

Everywhere we look you can see traditional “bricks and mortal” organizations trying to leverage technology in a new way to help them do what they do . . .

  • JCPenney (not exactly the Apple Store of technology innovation) is adding “findmore” kiosks to stores across the country . . . allowing shoppers to quickly find what she wants from the online catalogue in the store . . . or find similar items from in the offline store on their website.  (Like sizes and styles not normally carried in the bricks-and-mortal locations.) [Click here to findmore on this innovation.]
  • Homeplus in South Korea launched a series of “stores” on subway platforms.  Smart phone users simply scan QR codes under items they would like on graphics made to look like store shelves . . .and then those items are delivered to their homes later. [Check out this video.]
  • Kraft and Intel partnered up together (what a crazy partnership!) to develop an in store kiosk that generates custom recipes through a touch interface (or smart phone app) and then vends the items needed to make those meals. [Click here to read the PDF.]
  • We’re all familiar with the “buy online and pick up in store” solutions from companies like Apple, Walmart and Barnes & Noble but have you seen the offering targeted to college students from Bed Bath and Beyond?  Shop online or instore (with your mom?) for what you need . . . and then they will get the items to a location near your school. 
More than just having laptops in the foyer for sign ups for classes . . . or even more than just streaming our services online for people to watch if they don’t want to drive in . . . what if we mixed and mingled the online and offline experiences for our people?
  • What if first time guests on our website could book a personal guide to their first experience to our services?  That person would meet them at the parking lot and help them through that first nerve racking Sunday.
  • What if we encouraged people to bring their laptops to church by providing small tables and power outlets to plug in? We could set up a free wifi network that would “resolve” to the notes for that morning’s message when connected.
  • What if on those invite cards that we all make up . . .we had a QR code that linked to a video online with a snippet of the message?  And then at the end of the video it asked people what questions they had about the topic and then the teaching pastor used those questions in their message?
  • What if at our “guest services” kiosks after our services if people could book a online time with a “connections guru” during the week where they could meet on Skype to talk about how to get them connected to a small group or team?
  • What if as people checked their kids into your “self service check in kiosk” it gave them a few “tweet options” that they could send out automagically to their followers?  “Just dropped the kids off at Liquid Kids! Excited for today!” or “I’m at the Morristown Campus of for the kick off of a new series! Would love you to come!”
 I’m sure you have better ideas that me . . . what are some ways that you think we could mix our people’s online and offline experiences with our churches? [I’d love to hear your ideas!]

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