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Transforming The Customer Experience

Online Shoppers Still Want In-store Experiences

Posted Sep 10, 2019 8:00:00 AM

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As Amazon Prime and the overall eCommerce industry continues to grow, many people feel that operating a brick-and-mortar location is expensive and impractical. Why should you have a physical storefront when you could have a warehouse and online store? 

Despite the popularity of online shopping, physical store locations continue to be the main income driver for retailers. Yes, online shoppers still want in-store experiences, and when you look at their behavior, you can understand why. 

Check out the latest data to understand how people shop. 

Most Customers Still Prefer to Visit a Physical Location

According to research shared by Google in late 2018, 61% of shoppers would rather shop at a store that had a physical location than one that is online only. 

There are many reasons that drive this customer behavior, but the primary one is immediacy. 

Most people want to drive down the street and pick up an item immediately. Even waiting two or three days to order online is too much. Your customers will likely do their browsing online, but will actually make their final purchase in-store. A few other reasons why customers prefer to have nearby locations include:

  • They can physically handle the items (and try them on) before they buy. 
  • They can look for items that they might have missed online that your store has in a similar display. 
  • They can return items they don’t want without visiting the post office. 

The result of this research points to two things. The first is that your customers are more informed when they visit your store. They know more about their options and item price points than in the past. The second point is that most people who visit your store went out of their way to visit it, even if they could have bought the item online. 

Online Shoppers Are Highly Motivated to Buy

Not only are your online shoppers more informed than the average customer who visits your store, but they are also more likely to convert. Customers sought out your business for a specific product or brand which they intend to purchase as soon as possible.

According to Google, mobile searches for terms including the words “can I/to buy” and “near me” have increased 6x over the past two years. These are online shoppers who are looking for specific items near them that they can get immediately. A few examples of these phrases include:

  • Where can I find a tire pump near me
  • Where to buy high-quality paint brushes in Nashville
  • Furniture store near me

As you can see, these are highly actionable queries. Your customers want specific items and to visit the locations that have them that day. These customers will increase your conversion rates and grow your overall sales in your retail store.  

Your Customers Follow the Same Habits

All of this is good news for brands that can win over online shoppers or grow their customer base through online marketing: if you can win customers over and convince them to buy from your business, then you can increase the chances that they return to buy from your physical storefront in the future. 

The Google report also notes that 45% of people who purchase from stores did so because it is where they always buy. 

If you are in the habit of picking up a certain item in a certain place, then you likely aren’t going to switch to online ordering to change stores in the future. As a whole, humans don’t like change, and following a simple process like visiting the same store can go a long way to maintaining the stability we crave.  

However, this does mean that when you lose customers, you will have a harder time bringing them back. Your shoppers will move on to other stores or means of acquiring the items, which may be comparable (or even better) than the experience you offer. This is why customer acquisition and are equally important. 

How Store Owners Can Bring Online Shoppers In-Store

Strategic store owners will base their marketing efforts on these online shoppers. While you can still drive plenty of business from non-digital customers, your online audience can help you scale your business and sell key products. 

There are a few steps you can take to help people find you and your products:

  • Invest in local SEO. Optimize your content for local keywords so your brand shows up when users search for specific items or stores in your area.
  • Manage your Google My Business account and local reviews. This is part of the SEO process and can make it easier to be found. 
  • Let customers search for items on your website based on store availability. Show when online items are available in-store. 
  • Show the nearest store location on your website. This allows shoppers to see how close you are. 
  • Offer in-store coupons or discounts. Give customers a financial incentive to visit your location, even if it just means saving on shipping by picking up an order in-store. 
  • Create a valuable in-store experience. Develop opportunities for customers to handle and test products before they buy them.
  • Train your staff to provide clear customer service and valuable information to shoppers. A positive employee interaction can show online shoppers the value of visiting a store and provide them with more information than they otherwise would have had.

Bringing online shoppers to your physical store requires digital marketing and outreach, but also a good shopping experience. The last thing you want is for your customers to feel justified in choosing online options because of a poor in-store experience. A clean store and good customer service go a long way.    

Create an Inviting In-Store Experience for Shoppers

Now that you understand the power of in-store shopping and see how you can bring your online shoppers in-store, take steps to create a positive experience for everyone who visits your location. 

Download our free customer experience checklist to audit your store and see what customers see. Use the checklist to identify ways to improve and upgrade your location so you can impress and keep every customer that comes through your doors. 

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