Digital Marketing Book, Websites

Research Online Buy Offline: ROBO- Retail’s Most Important New Acronym

Research Online Buy Offline

Online Research = In-Store Purchase

This trend in retail is good news for brick and mortar store owners. People use their smartphone to research local businesses online before visiting the store to buy. If you own or manage a brick and mortar retail store this information is for you!

According to Forbes, “in-store shopping behavior is significantly influenced by online research.” Forbes goes on to highlight the role of smartphone use in retail shopping. Evidently, 82% of smartphone users consult their phones before buying something in a store. Finally, Forbes goes on to note that online research leads people to shop in-store versus online. The article states that, “almost $5 is spent in-store for every dollar spent online following online research.”

That’s not all. 81% of consumers research online before buying something. Moreover, 60% of consumers start their product research in a search engine.

This is important. Your website is the magnet that draws in consumers as they research online.

Webrooming – A Case Study

Take Nourish Pet Care for example. This is a pet store in Houston, Texas that focuses on cat boarding and pet product sales. This store focused on creating an omnichannel solution. They worked hard to make sure that their in-store inventory is reflected on their website.

Since creating this omnichannel presence, this store has attracted new customers. Customers who were researching online to buy in a store. This is sometimes called webrooming. Retailers are familiar with showrooming. Showrooming is the process of looking at products in a store but then buying online. Yet, retailers are unaware of the opportunity presented by webrooming.

Showrooming usually occurs on a smartphone. Often customers will research a product online while they are standing in a store. Webrooming, is the practice of researching products in a product catalog online. This happens before the consumer ever visits a store. The customer visits a store to make the final evaluation and purchase. Customers who intend to buy online will showrooom. Customers who intend to buy in a store will webroom. What an opportunity for brick and mortar stores!

For Nourish Pet Care, consumers in Houston Texas have been webrooming. Good news for Nourish because it’s leading to new customers. People who have never shopped at his store are googling things like, “Healthy pet food” or “Nature’s Variety”. Due to the catalog on their website, Nourish pet care is popping up in the search results. When a customer clicks on Nourish Pet Care in the search results they see a quality website and competitive prices. The result is new customers walking through the door.

Without this online catalog, Nourish would completely miss these customers. Yet, capturing these visits and turning them into lifetime customers has tremendous value.

Bottom Line – Research Online Buy Offline

Why is a website important? Because consumers conduct product research online. Websites are the centerpiece for directing online researchers to your business.

Online Research & Local Store Visits

Are you convinced that a quality website is important yet? Consider this – online research is closely tied to visiting local stores. Evidence suggests that the research consumers conduct online is closely tied to visiting a local retailer.

According to the local search association, 27% of consumers view a company’s website when they’re ready to buy. Google’s research tells us that 82% of smartphone users use a search engine when looking for a local business.

According to Google, 76% of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day. Furthermore, 28% of those searches result in a sale.

One out of every three searches on a smartphone happen right before a consumer visits a store. What are these customers turning to retailers websites to find out? The consumers are looking for business hours, locations, availability of products, and directions. Specifically, 45% of consumer searches on laptops or tablets are for product availability at local stores.

Final Thoughts on ROBO

Statistics can feel abstract. It is as if the statistics are referring to some other type of company or situation. Don’t fall into the, “this doesn’t apply to me” trap. This online research data is referring to local businesses. Consumers still want to buy offline from local stores, but they decide where they will buy online. A strong website helps captures these consumers. It ensures your store receives the footfalls you deserve.

Read more about how to make sure your website makes a great first impression.

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