For online retailers, online marketing is a no brainer. After all, where else would you go to reach online shoppers? For the owners of physical stores, internet marketing has been a tougher sell. In many cases, brick-and-mortar store owners treat internet marketing as a meaningless exercise that has no effect on sales. A new study from Deloitte strongly suggests otherwise. According to their research, marketing on digital channels makes a huge effect on in-store buyer behavior. This post will go over some of the findings and what they mean for small business owners.
Though business owners may not realize it, they owe a lot to the information that consumers find online. The internet is certainly good for e-commerce sites and online retailers, but it’s also a big money maker for in-store retailers. According to the recent Deloitte study titled The New Digital Divide | Retailers, shoppers, and the digital influence factor, digital channels influenced $1.1 trillion in US in-store retail sales in 2013. That’s more than a third (36%) of US in-store retail sales in 2013, which is up from 14 percent in 2012. Assuming a similar increase this year, the study estimated that “digital channels will influence 50 percent of all US in-store retail sales by September 2014”.
To say that digital channels influence in-store sales is a little ambiguous. Here’s one stat from the study that shows the practical value of digital channels. Americans who use mobile devices while shopping in-store convert at a 40 percent higher rate. It’s probably not their personal soundtrack that has them paying more. It’s the information they found on mobile-compatible websites that had made them decide to buy. It has been noted in other articles on this blog, all the ways that consumers use mobile devices while they’re in the store.
The study also had data that showed the benefit of social media marketing for influencing consumers. A whopping three-quarters (75%) of online Americans say product information found on social channels influences their shopping behavior and enhances brand loyalty. Since it’s free or inexpensive to use social media for marketing and the effect is so great, it’s foolish for retailers to not use social networks to boost their sales.
Deloitte also released a study that showed consumer demand for the ability to buy certain goods online will only increase. The study, titled Digital commerce in the supermarket aisle: Strategies for CPG brands reported that 60 percent of consumers want to buy consumer packaged goods products from more categories online in the future. And to put a feather in the cap of email marketers, the study also noted that 65 percent of consumers say email coupons are important when grocery shopping online.
It goes beyond simple marketing like product information and prices. Deloitte reported that 84 percent of shoppers used some type of digital device for shopping-related activities before or during their most recent store trip. Sometimes, business owners and marketers need to think carefully of all the ways they use mobile data to improve a customer’s shopping experience. For example, 64 percent of consumers say reviews and ratings are important when grocery shopping online. This requires multiple effort on the part of the marketer. They need to make reviews and ratings available on their site and they need to encourage buyers to leave reviews.
For business owners and marketers, the message is clear. It’s time to double-down on internet marketing. For businesses of all size, whether they sell online or off, the fact remains that consumers are turning to the internet to find information about the products they want to buy and the retailers they want to buy them from. Even if costs money to set things up embracing digital channels will improve the shopping experience for customers and, in the long term, increase a company’s sales.