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.