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It’s no secret that the retail shopping experience has changed for the consumer. While in-store foot traffic may be lower than what it once was, a huge increase in online research and the use of smartphones has become a focus for savvy shoppers. National brands looking to take advantage of this shift in the retail industry need a stronger local online presence to maintain relevance. The management of this local presence is crucial for big brands to bring online consumers to their brick-and-mortar stores.

Recent online surveys have shown that consumers want more information about products and a customized shopping experience. A new study conducted by Google revealed that two out of three shoppers who tried to find information within a store said they didn’t find what they needed, and 43% of them left frustrated. Additionally, 71% of in-store shoppers who use smartphones for online research said their device has become more important to their in-store experience.

National retailers can use these insights to connect with their audience and engage with potential customers. By using local presence management to provide consumers with information online before they go shopping and by offering a customized shopping experience, the retailer can attain revenue from a source that wasn’t previously available.

 

Online Information Drives Consumers to Shop In-Store

Many are mistaken in believing that online search results only lead to online sales. In reality, local search results are one of the most powerful tools to get customers through the door. Three out of four consumers that find local info in search results helpful are more likely to visit stores.

These shoppers get inspired to visit a physical store after they successfully find out important details such as the availability of an item, the store location and hours, or pricing at a nearby retail store. However, when this information is not readily available, consumers tend to stay away. Research shows that one out of four shoppers will avoid a nearby store if there’s a risk of the item not being available.

local-online-presenceLocal inventory ads are a great way to connect shoppers with physical stores and highlight the importance of local presence management. National brands can use these ads to show their local, in-store inventory to consumers that are on the move. By allowing the consumer to attain this information, the likelihood of that consumer walking into the retailers store that day is extremely high. The message is clear: Digital has become a powerful way to connect customers to stores.

The Shopper’s Smartphone can be a Brand’s Best Sales Associate

In the past, retailers thought that if a consumer was looking at their smartphone during their shopping experience then they must have lost the consumer’s attention. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Through local search results, mobile sites, and apps a retailer can grab the consumer’s interest like never before.

With 42% of shoppers searching for information while in-store, smartphones have indeed changed the way we shop. Most of these shoppers use search engines, but almost half of them log onto the retailer’s own site or app. This allows the retailer to connect with consumers directly while simultaneously preventing them from checking out the competition.

As digital transforms the shopping experience for the consumer clever retailers are using apps to deliver a better in-store experience. By giving direct access to product ratings and reviews an app becomes a personal shopping assistant to the consumer.

local-online-presenceEssentially, a powerful online presence assists shoppers once they’re in-store. Mobile ads, search results, websites, and apps need to be integrated with local information to get consumer’s attention. By targeting content and ads to specific locations retailers can connect with shoppers that might be nearby, or already inside the store.

The Physical Store is More Than Just a Transaction Center

Another common misconception about the current retail environment is that after researching products online a consumer only goes to a store to transact. In today’s retail scene the shopper visits a store for more than a simple purchase. They seek an informative experience that has been customized to fit their needs.

Retailers that aren’t up to speed might be fooled into thinking that in 2015 their store is just a place for a quick transaction, but that’s not the case. Consumer’s are smarter than that, and are visiting stores before and during their purchasing experience. Google’s study reveals that 32% of shoppers visit stores when they’re first thinking about a purchase, and 33% actively research in-store to get more information about a potential purchase.

local-online-presenceDigital has allowed retailers to reach consumers in new ways. Shoppers want to feel that a retailer knows where they’re coming from, and customizing the purchase journey is crucial. A customized shopping experience should be a vital component to any retailer’s arsenal of marketing tools. Shoppers want to feel special. They want personalized attention. In fact, 85% of shoppers say they’d be more likely to shop in places that offer personalized coupons and exclusive offers in-store. That’s huge! Specific product recommendations and letting shoppers know what friends and family have purchased is also an important part of the equation and is yet another way for retailers to connect with consumers.

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Local Searches Provide Digital Bridge Between Consumers and Stores

As the shopper becomes increasingly reliant on smartphones, retailers must offer current and relevant local information through searches, mobile apps, and a robust site if they hope to increase their reach and engagement. This local information will not only drive traffic to physical storefronts, but will also improve the customer’s shopping experience once inside the door. By changing this experience, digital has allowed knowledgeable retailers to attract and engage shoppers and get a leg up on their competition.

All info graphics courtesy of Google/Ipsos MediaCT/Sterling Brands research study.

See the “Digital Impact on In-Store Shopping” study conducted by Google, Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands for more information.