Use Online to Drive Retail Results

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We published a blog post in late 2012 entitled “Majority of Sales will be “Web-Influenced” in 2015” which reflected on research by Forrester comparing online only, retail only, and web-influenced retail.  Given how many have historically characterized the impact of online as “only e-commerce” which is small in comparison to traditional retail, it was worth noting the notion of “web-influenced sales”.  We commented that this more representative of the true impact of digital, and this blog post continues to attract readers years later.


Fast-forward to 2015, and Google has commissioned research (Google/Ipsos MediaCT/Sterling Brands, Digital Impact on In-Store Shopping, March–May 2014.) that helps us understand how consumers use online in their retail shopping process – and how to leverage it to help drive in-store sales.


ecommerce trends


There are a few findings in the research that jump out at us:


1) Web-influenced increasingly translates as “mobile influenced”.

Sure there are still lots of users in the shopping and pre-shopping / dreaming process at home, but with U.S. smart phone penetration at 70% for consumers 18-34  (Source: eMarketer), a whole new generation of consumers view their smart phone as their very capable “shopping assistant”.  Shopping assistants are helping consumers answer the age-old questions – Is it in stock at the store?, What is the price?, What are the ratings and recommendations?, What other information is known about the item?  Are there discounts or promotions?, and Is there a better price locally or online if I wait to have it shipped?


2) More consumers go online in the store to access that retailers’ content than another competitor.

Of the 42% of consumers that use a smart phone while in a retail store, 46% visited that store’s website or web app, while only 30% looked at another retailer.  We can speculate as to what these consumers were looking for in each instance, but one could imagine consumers checking warranty or other details inside the box, online reviews, or if the price was lower at the retailer’s own website.  It may also be indicative of the level of personal help at retail, or a DIY attitude… in any case it’s critical to have the right information, easily available in a mobile-friendly format if you’re in retail.


3)  It’s only 2015!

It may have been big news in 2012 to project a majority of sales being web-influenced in 2015, but this is only the beginning.  As smart phone usage increases, geographic mobile ads target likely shoppers and beacon technology helps retailers tailor messaging and services to in-store shoppers…this is guaranteed to be a dynamic environment with those willing to try and test getting the early learning in this new frontier.

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