Many local retailers think that the rise of digital has lead to a downturn in business, suggesting that they can’t compete with the online shopping experience.
But according to a recent study commissioned by Google, digital can in fact enhance your business, if used properly.
In ‘The 3 New Realities of Local Retail’ Google outlines three key findings:
- Digital drives in-store traffic
- Smartphones are in-store shopping assistants
- Omnichannel shopping deserves omnichannel measurement.
Digital Drives In-Store Traffic
In ‘New Research Shows How Digital Connects Shoppers With Local Stores’ Google explains that ‘3 in 4 people who find local information in search results helpful are more likely to visit stores’ and that ‘50% of consumers will visit a store within one day of a local search on their smartphone’.
As part of the study, Google asked participants which information is most useful when searching for a store online. 74% of people cited product availability and 75% wanted accurate pricing. Other answers included location, trading hours and phone number.
If the information found in search results is not helpful, ‘1 in 4 say they’ll steer clear of a nearby store altogether’. Your customer doesn’t want to waste time visiting your store to find that you’re not open, certain products are not available, or that the product they’re after is too expensive.
The Take-Away: Potential customers are searching online for information about your business. Make sure they can find that information quickly and easily.
Make sure your website is up to date and can be found in local search results.
Make sure you are listed with popular business directories and provide as much information as you can including product photos.
Keep in mind that consumers also use social networks including Facebook and Twitter. Both of these platforms are handy tools for engaging with customers who have questions about your business.
Smartphones Are In-Store Shopping Assistants
As consumers have access to more and more information via their smartphones , it is easy for them to use your store to test a product before purchasing online, or to compare your prices with the competition while they are standing in your shop.
This activity is commonly referred to as ‘showrooming’.
Google’s study found that there is an opportunity to turn your shopper’s smartphone into your best salesperson:
42% of participants stated that they search for information online even while they are standing in a store.
64% use search engines and 46% use the store’s own website or app.
30% search competitors’ websites or apps.
Why are shoppers searching searching for information via their smartphones while they are standing in your shop?
An overwhelming two thirds of respondents said they couldn’t find the information they wanted whilst in-store.
It seems fair to ask then, why don’t they just ask your salesperson? Interestingly, one in three people would prefer to use their smartphone.
The Take-Away: Smartphones are here to stay and consumers rely on them for finding information quickly and easily. It makes sense to engage your customer via this device.
Make sure you have a mobile friendly website with all the information your customer requires. And make sure it’s fast.
Consider providing them with an in-store online experience; depending on the size of your business, geolocation, RFIDs, Augmented Reality, NFC, mobile payments and mobile coupons can all help to sell your product.
Check out MarketingLand’s article ’SMBs Should Jump On The Mobile Payments Train In 2015’ for a comprehensive view of the importance of mobile payments.
The Australian newspaper reported recently that mobile payments were forecasted to grow 61% in 2015.
Omnichannel Shopping Calls For Omnichannel Measurement
Google states, ‘Though shopping habits have changed drastically, retailers haven’t necessarily caught up in the ways they measure their marketing efforts and allocate their media spend.’
Think about the print advertisements that don’t feature a unique call to action and can never be accurately measured.
The fact that so many local retailers misunderstand the positive influence digital has on local retail is mainly because they are unable to measure its true influence.
For example; a shopper has a coffee and searches for a product online, finds a local retailer just 400 metres up the road, walks into the store and makes a purchase. Very few retailers understand that this is not uncommon, and that digital plays a huge part in driving business to their store.
The retail environment is tough and competition is fierce. But there is a real opportunity to make the most of digital and set yourself apart from other local retailers who ignore it or complain about its influence.
Take the time to understand your customer and what drives your sales.
Embrace digital and use it it to engage with consumers. If used properly, digital can be a cost effective way to drive more traffic to your store and retain customers.