The expectations of customers within today’s digital-enabled marketplace are evolving as quickly as the technology they use to shop. From expert product reviews to AI-powered recommendations, today’s tech-savvy shoppers tap into a seemingly endless pool of product-specific info. With this wealth of knowledge at their fingertips, it’s no surprise that many customers demand to be informed. In fact, the average customer spends 13 days researching before making a major purchase, according to a 2017 Google study.
When it comes to receiving their purchase, many customers value immediacy above all. Google data reveals that one in three shoppers expect to have their items the day they purchase them, and mobile searches for “same-day shipping” have risen 120% from 2015 to 2017. Convenience is also a priority—one met by new technologies like voice-responsive devices. 44% of people who use voice speakers weekly say they also use voice to purchase household items, groceries, and other necessities at least once a week, Google research shows.
There is, however, one unfortunate casualty of the modern shopping experience: brand loyalty. Customers browsing online are often driven to find top-quality products, unbeatable deals, and a seamless interface. In a market that caters to individual preference, the perks of shopping around may outweigh the benefits of sticking with a single brand. That sentiment is shared by 74% of smartphone users, who, when buying something urgent, “look for the most relevant information, regardless of the company providing that information,” according to Google data.
But retailers need not rely solely on brand loyalty to draw traffic. It’s clear that customers don’t want to wait for their purchase; at the same time, they prefer a convenient shopping experience. Far from dying out, brick-and-mortar stores offer a massive opportunity to answer the demand for a quick, easy buy. Such demand is demonstrated by the fact that mobile searches for “near me” are three times more frequent than in 2015, and nearly 80% of shoppers have no problem traveling to a nearby store to purchase an item they want immediately. Retailers, then, should emphasize customer assistance and ease of navigation in brick-and-mortar stores, as well as online.
To capitalize on today’s consumer habits, a cohesive local and digital strategy is essential, and omnichannel marketing accomplishes both. It’s a multifaceted approach focused on connecting customers searching for items with the stores the stock them; for example, an omnichannel strategy would involve targeting specific geographies using location-based bid adjustments in AdWords. Online to offline marketing has been shown to boost incremental store visits by 80%.
Through precise geo-targeting of ads, Staples was able to increase store visits by 124% between 2015 and 2016, which reflects Google data showing that ads localized within one mile of a physical store have a 28% higher click-through rate, and 58% more store visits. In addition, it was found that customers who clicked on an add for a store within five miles of their location, they were 1.7 times more likely to visit than customers outside that five-mile radius. Brands should take special care to localize their marketing over the holidays, as Google found that retailers who throughout Q4 concentrated online ad frequency in areas close to their brick-and-mortar locations had 38% more store visits than those who didn’t.
More and more, shoppers look to their smartphones for information, and developing a strong, comprehensive strategy enables retailers to meet customer needs both online and in-store.