We've all heard the theories that people who do research online no longer care about the in-store experience … or don't even go to physical stores any more. Or that shoppers who use a smartphone in a store are looking to buy elsewhere.
Google decided to find out how much of this is true. We've just run a research study with Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands with the goal of discovering how smartphones and online information have changed the in-store experience.
The results, as they say, may surprise you.
The full details are available at Think With Google. But here's a sneak peek at what we learned.
First, the study confirmed two things most of us have suspected:
- Yes, today's consumers are better-informed than ever before.
- They crave information throughout the shopping process, and often use smartphones to get it.
Myth #1: Search results only send consumers to e-commerce sites.
The reality: The things people find in search results actually can send them to local stores. In fact, 3 in 4 people who said they found local information in search results helpful also said what they learned made them more likely to visit a store.
Myth #2: Once an in-store shopper starts looking at her smartphone, the store has lost her attention and her sale.
The reality: In-store smartphone moments are actually a good opportunity for brick-and-mortar stores to connect with shoppers and to help them make a decision. 46% of those shoppers say they look at the retailer's own site or app for information. Only 30% look up details from a different retailer’s web site or app.
Myth #3: With so much information available online, shoppers only go to stores to transact.
The reality: Shoppers actually want more, not less, out of their in-store experience. They want informed, customized experiences. 69% of shoppers said they gathered information from physical stores at some point in their shopping cycle. The catch is that 2 out of 3 shoppers said they didn't find all the info they wanted.
What does it all mean? Simply this: smartphones are a friend, not an enemy, to in-store shopping.
There are new opportunities for brands and stores to engage with customers in creative ways before, during, and after the customer’s shopping journey — one that may begin online and end up in-store. Search results, mobile ads, and mobile sites and apps can be magnets that draw consumers into stores and engage them while they're there. Smartphones and online information can also be a powerful way to create customized experiences for the consumer.
We discovered plenty of surprising insights in our study. See all the details at Think With Google. Plus, check out videos of Macy's, REI, and Sephora marketing execs sharing their approach for linking digital to store here.
Posted by Bao Lam, Product Marketing Manager, Adwords
1Google/Ipsos MediaCT/Sterling Brands, Digital Impact on In-Store Shopping, October 2014.