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New Research Shows How Digital Connects Shoppers to Local Stores

While some might say that the rise of digital has made the role of the local retail store obsolete, new research from Google suggests that the relationship between digital and in-store shopping is far more nuanced and interconnected than that. In gaining an understanding of the impact of digital on in-store shopping, we were able to debunk three common retail myths. We also identified ways retailers can use digital more effectively to connect with consumers. With two in three consumers not finding the information they need in-store and 43% then leaving frustrated, digital presents an opportunity for retailers to improve the in-store shopping experience.

The retail industry is undergoing a dramatic shift: In-store foot traffic is down, online research is up and smartphones are becoming increasingly important to the consumer’s in-store shopping journey. Here we debunk three common myths associated with the impact of digital on in-store shopping. We’ll also highlight how consumers’ digital behavior affects—and in fact, helps—retail stores today.

Myth #1: Search results only send consumers to e-commerce sites.

The Reality: Search results are also a powerful way to drive consumers to stores.

A common myth is that as a result of searching online, shoppers will only visit e-commerce sites. In reality, three out of four shoppers who find local information in search results helpful are more likely to visit stores. The lesson for retailers here is simple: Digital is a powerful way to connect consumers with stores.

Myth #2: Once in-store consumers start looking at their smartphone, the retailer loses their attention.

The Reality: Retailers can grab consumers’ attention through search results and their mobile site or app.

Digital is transforming the in-store experience for customers. Our study shows that 42% of in-store shoppers search for information online while in-store. For the most part, they’re using search engines (64%). However, almost half of shoppers head to the retailer’s own site or app. Only 30% will look up details from a different retailer’s web site or app. This presents a powerful opportunity for retailers to connect with consumers—and prevent them from turning to the competition.

Retailers can use their online presence—website, apps, mobile ads and search results—to assist shoppers in-store. This includes the integration of local information in their online presence. Geo-targeting content and ads helps retailers connect with shoppers who may be in close proximity to their store or already there.

Myth #3: Online research has lowered consumers’ expectations of stores; they really just go to a store to transact.

The Reality: Consumers visit stores for more than just a purchase, and their expectations of retailers are higher than before. They’re looking for an informative, customized experience.

Some retailers fear that today’s consumers are so well informed before they step into a store that the shop itself has become nothing but a playground for a quick transaction. In fact, people are visiting stores throughout their purchase journey—even before making a purchase. Thirty-two percent of shoppers visit stores when they’re first thinking about a purchase, and 33% actively research in stores to find out more about a potential purchase.

The consumer path to purchase is becoming increasingly mobile. Retailers that provide relevant, local information via search and online presence (mobile app and site) will increase both reach and engagement. Digital has fundamentally reshaped the shopping journey—in a good way—and savvy retailers who make use of it to attract and engage consumers will find themselves ahead of the competition.

See the full findings and report at Google’s blog.

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The 3 New Realities of Local Retail According to Google

The relationship between digital and local stores is changing. Google found three new realities of retail: digital drives in-store traffic; smartphones are in-store shopping assistants and varied shopping habits call for a holistic approach to measuring retail success. Savvy retailers are learning how to reach customers by better connecting the online to the offline and by caring less about where a sale happens and more about how to help shoppers convert.

New reality #1: Digital drives in-store traffic

As it turns out, digital doesn’t just drive e-commerce. It actually gets consumers into local stores. A 2014 study on local search behavior found that 50% of consumers will visit a store within one day of a local search on their smartphone. Scott Zalaznik, Sprint’s vice president of digital, has seen digital’s influence on offline shopping firsthand: “Ninety percent of our customers start their journey online but buy in-store.”

New reality #2: Smartphones are in-store shopping assistants

Thanks to our constantly connected world, we’ve become accustomed to instantaneous answers and a wealth of information at our fingertips, but not all retailers have translated this well into in-store experiences. Shoppers are increasingly frustrated by the lack of in-store information. Two-thirds of those surveyed said they couldn’t find the details they needed while visiting a store. Many, as a result, are turning to their smartphone to fill in the information gap. Of the 42% who research online while in stores, almost half use the retailer’s own site or app. And one in three shoppers actually prefer to use their smartphone to find additional information rather than ask a store employee for help.

New reality #3: Omnichannel shopping calls for omnichannel measurement

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. Most retailers don’t yet understand the extent to which digital drives in-store transactions and how in-store visits affect online purchases. The result is that they’re often viewing sales in silos and undervaluing the real impact of their digital spend on total sales. Consequently, they’re making suboptimal decisions about their media mix.

Macys.com’s Serena Potter says the brand has placed a special focus on understanding just how much of local business sales come from digital searches. “We’ve been able to show that for every dollar we invest in search, we drive $6 of sales in-store,” she says.

See the full blog post here, at Google’s Blog.

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The look of letters – a history of typefaces you’ll recognize

For every news story or advertisement you see, there is at least one writer who has agonized over every word. But a designer has also agonized over how those words look. This is a list that shows just how much thought goes into the look of letters.

The two shown in the featured image are Helvetica and Bell Centennial.

Helvetica

This list just wouldn’t be complete without Helvetica — not only is Helvetica everywhere; it also has an entire documentary devoted to it. In that film, design writer Rick Poynor explains that Helvetica was born of the “idealism” and “sense of social responsibility” among designers in the post-World-War-II period. That idealism, combined with a need for “rational typefaces” for things like official signage, helped Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffman create Helvetica in 1957. And because of its simple, clean look, the font has become pervasive. In 1989, for example, it became the official font of New York City Subway signage, but it has also been used in countless logos.

Bell Centennial

Bell Centennial was created in the 1970s for phonebooks, and specifically to address problems with the printing of those books. If you look closely at the letters, you’ll notice little notches where the strokes meet each other. Those are “ink traps,” meant to deal with the combination of the thin ink used to print phone books and the cheap paper they’re printed on, MoMA explains. Leaving those notches allows the ink to fill in the spaces and make the letters look full and correct when they are printed.

See many more typefaces at Vox

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Q&A with type designer Juan Carlos Pagan

Have you given much thought to the typefaces or “fonts” that you see all around you throughout the world? Somewhere someone at some time put a lot of thought into designing each letter of that alphabet. What are type designers thinking and how do they work? Check out this Q&A with Juan Carlos Pagan via the NYC Art Director’s Club.

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The dark side of Valentine’s Day and advertising

It’s not always chocolate candy and roses in relationships – and that’s true in this blog post. With Valentine’s Day coming up, Boston.com has written about the curious history of publically shaming one’s former flame by way of the classified ad.

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How PR changed the way we use our streets

Vox tells the story of how the automobile industry used public relations tactics to change the way we used our streets.

100 years ago, if you were a pedestrian, crossing the street was simple: you walked across it.

Today, if there’s traffic in the area and you want to follow the law, you need to find a crosswalk. And if there’s a traffic light, you need to wait for it to change to green.

To most people, this seems part of the basic nature of roads. But it’s actually the result of an aggressive, forgotten 1920s campaign led by auto groups and manufacturers that redefined who owned the city street.

The idea that pedestrians shouldn’t be permitted to walk wherever they liked had been present as far back as 1912, when Kansas City passed the first ordinance requiring them to cross streets at crosswalks. But in the mid-twenties, auto groups took up the campaign with vigor, passing laws all over the country.

Most notably, auto industry groups took control of a series of meetings convened by Herbert Hoover (then Secretary of Commerce) to create a model traffic law that could be used by cities across the country. Due to their influence, the product of those meetings — the 1928 Model Municipal Traffic Ordinance — was largely based off traffic law in Los Angeles, which had enacted strict pedestrian controls in 1925.

“The crucial thing it said was that pedestrians would cross only at crosswalks, and only at right angles,” Norton says. “Essentially, this is the traffic law that we’re still living with today.”

Read the whole history of Jaywalking over at Vox.

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New App Helps Autistic Kids Make Eye Contact

Interacting with other people can be a struggle for autistic children and adults — reading facial expressions and making eye contact are just two of the challenges they face. From parents’ perspectives, the barrier is especially difficult to bear as they try to connect with their kids. In an attempt to help bridge this gap, Samsung and creative agency Cheil Worldwide teamed up with Seoul National University and Yonsei University to create “Look at Me,” a tech-based training tool.

Experts in the field worked with user-experience designers to develop a reward-based smart device application for autistic children to play with. The kids are tasked with completing seven missions designed to help them express their emotions, interpret facial expressions and work their way toward making eye contact. Much like a video or computer game, each successfully-completed assignment results in a prize, including points, rubies and character cards.

The app, available on Google Play, was originally tested by 20 children for eight weeks. Post-program surveys filled out by parents indicated that 60% of the kids showed improvement in making eye contact.

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What we love: Norway’s New Passports

The internet is going nuts for this new passport design and it’s easy to see why.

Norway’s stunning new passport design has just been unveiled and it has mastered the art of Scandinavian minimalism.

Created by Neue Design Studio, the packaging features clean lines, a red embossed cover, and even secret images of the Northern Lights.

When placed under a UV lamp, the gorgeous landscape lights up before your eyes.

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The passport will have a red cover unless you are a diplomat, in which case, you will receive a blue version. Immigrants will be issued a pale gray design.

The new designs were an entry in the National Police Directorate’s competition to ‘find a unique concept with excellent design qualities and a theme that is widely accepted.’

The hope was also that the new design would increase the security of Norwegian passports, ID cards, and other travel documents.

‘Nature has always been an essential part of the Norwegian identity and tradition, as well as being a key fundament to our welfare,’ said the design team. ‘The landscape with its vast variation from the south to the north is the starting point for the design concept. The basis for the winning entry is the concept of The Norwegian Landscape.’

Though the design will be slightly adjusted and tweaked on the basis of technical and safety considerations, the final result will be presented soon.

The jury, speaking of their decision to crown Neue Design Studio the winners, said: ‘It illustrates the Norwegian identity and makes sure the passport will be viewed as a document of high value.’

Well done, Neue!