How Does Digital Impact The Local Retailer? [STUDY BY GOOGLE]

Retail MarketingMany 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.
 

Summary

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.

Web Design: Can Less Really Be More?

web design user experienceExcessive complexity is evidence of a lack of thought and design. Simple, thoughtful sites are far more effective at generating conversions.

Underlying all of the chatter about flat design, minimalism, and user experience design, there’s a simple principle: complexity does not lead to positive user experiences. Unfortunately, many businesses aren’t paying attention to the message.

In many ways, that’s understandable. Modern content management systems make it almost trivially easy to load a site up with features.

Want your Twitter feed published on your home page? Easily done.

Want to bombard users with calls-to-action and various product combinations that might possibly elicit a conversion? Again, there’s very little work involved in doing so.

Websites exist for a purpose. For most business websites that purpose is to either generate leads or make sales. But there are plenty of tempting subsidiary functions that a site might be used for. Attempting to throw everything at the wall to see what sticks is a “design” paradigm that was once very popular, as you’ll know if you recall what corporate sites used to look like.

In fact, it isn’t a design approach at all. It’s a lack of design, a lack of thoughtfulness. There’s an old cliché among writers that the perfect piece of prose is one from which nothing more can be removed — a lesson that business site owners should take to heart and not just for aesthetic reasons.

It’s harder to create a simple and elegant site than a complex and cluttered one. It involves making choices at the design stage that result in a carefully curated set of effective on-site elements. That’s difficult, but it’s the job of designers and site owners to make those choices upfront, rather than ignoring their responsibility and putting the cognitive burden on visitors.

It might seem counter-intuitive, but the fewer options you present to visitors, the more likely they are to make a choice. Bombarding visitors with choices reduces conversions. I don’t know about you, but on many occasions I’ve stood in front of the dozens of different brands of cereal on the shelves of a supermarket in a state of unpleasant indecision because there are just too many options. That’s a state we don’t want to elicit in site visitors.

As I said, websites have a job to do. That job is moving people along a clearly defined path towards a goal. Without having a clear understanding of that path and the goal it’s impossible to focus design efforts in the right direction, and the result is complex, messy, and low-converting websites.

Simplicity is harder to achieve than complexity (or more accurately, than chaos), but it’s also the best way to ensure that a site does its job and serves a business’ needs efficiently.

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