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Digital Links Local Shoppers and Stores

Digital Links Local Shoppers and Stores

Retail as we have known it is changing. Digital has been on the rise, and with that, many presume that this may negatively affect local retail shops that thrive on in-store visits. However, recent online retail industry trends are proving just the opposite. It’s the digital interaction that is driving more and more customers in store.

Online Shopping Is More than E-Commerce

Retail search results are a luminous gold mine to drive customers to the items stores desire them to purchase. When customers search retail stores online, they are not solely looking to make an online purchase right then and there, but rather gather information on items that local stores around them may have in stock. In fact, 75% of people who find local information in search results are more likely to visit brick and mortal retailers.

Providing customers with specific product information can encourage more in-store visits. There is certain information that nearby shoppers are looking for that would be very useful and stores have the opportunity to latch onto this golden opportunity. For example, shoppers would want to find:

  • The price of an item
  • Availability of an item
  • Location of closest store with a desired item
  • Local store operating details (phone number, email, hours)
  • Map of store location
  • What related items are also available at the store

These details can mean the difference between a customer who is nearby on a smartphone walking into a store or not. Local inventory ads, for example, can allow stores to provide details on items in stock or out of stock. So, if Susie sees that her favorite department store has two pairs of the slacks that she wants, in her size and preferred color, she is more likely to travel to the nearest location to make the purchase.

Customers Aren’t Lost To Their Smartphone Screen

If a customer walks into a store and pulls out their smartphone, view it as an opportunity rather than a threat. Many stores think that they have lost the customer the minute they pull out their prized phones. The reality is that retailers can actually pull customers in through search results and their mobile site or app. One of the latest online retail industry trends shows that many shoppers are searching for information on their phones while they are actually in the store. They got there, and retailers need to keep them in the store with noteworthy information that will be useful to their shoppers on the devices that they are using. Some of the top online destinations shoppers use to conduct online research while in store are:

  • Search engines like Google or Yahoo
  • The retailer’s site or app
  • A different retailer’s site or app
  • A third party or aggregate site like coupon sites

Girl on Phone

This is valuable information for retailers that if armed, can prevent potential customers from going to competitors and increase in-store sales figures. Many retailers have already recognized this trend and embraced it with open arms. Sephora is a great example of this; they utilize their Sephora App to assist shoppers in finding the perfect products and also opening the doors to ratings and reviews. Having this additional information source is quite handy for customers, and convenient for when they are in the brick and mortar location. Another major company making an impactful stride in digital marketing efforts includes the retail giant, Macy’s. The company created an in store mobile app that allows customers to scan products and gather additional info and pricing. The convenience factor is huge for customers with this type of offering for potential buyers.

It is also important to remember that consumers spend more when they are in closer proximity to an item. Consumers expect a business to be within 5 miles of their location when on a mobile device, and this is key for conversions. The closer the customer is to the item, the more likely they are to buy it.

More Than a Transaction

One of the largest myths about local digital shoppers and online retail industry trends is that customers go to the store solely for a purchase. However, customers expect more than just to pick up the latest pair of sneakers or fragrances. They expect an experience. They expect friendly staff and a rewarding and convenient trip. It is also important to remember that customers also have not fully made up their minds on a purchase every time they walk into a store. They are still essentially on the buying journey when they enter the store, and the retailer has an opportunity to convert them into a valued purchaser during their experience in store. Many purchasers who use mobile to research products go on to make a purchase, so this is crucial. Retailers can convert consumers into buyers by relating to customers on an individual level. Many buyers say that if coupons or offers were tailored for their needs, they would not only be more likely to purchase items, but also feel more connected to the brand.

Stores shouldn’t get lost in the translation between digital and local, especially during the holiday season. Leveraging digital to connect customers more directly to a store front can go more than the extra mile to result in sales and satisfied shoppers.

For experts in connecting local customers and digital, contact Forthea today.


Sources: Think with Google, Business Insider

Natalie Hoben
Natalie is a digital marketing specialist at Forthea. Natalie is a proud Texas Aggie (in a sea of Houston Cougs) and a huge fan of the Texans, Red Wings, coffee.


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