Saturday, March 31, 2007

Interesting Multi-Channel Retailing Trends

Just was reading my email, and ran across a report from Forrester called Best Practices in Multichannel Retailing 2006. Some of the top line conclusions of this found that:
  • 88% of all online consumers will use the internet to research products.
  • Cross-channel shopping is quickly becoming a mainstream activity; more than half of online Gen Yers, Gen Xers and Younger Boomers engaging in online research behavior.
  • Multi-channel retailing has been a “nice-to-have” capability. With consumer adoption of technology, specifically the internet, multi-channel will be a “must-have” capability over the next 2 years.

Frequent Online Circular Users Are Also Frequent In Store Shoppers

Based upon a ShopLocal customer research study that was conducted in Q4 of 2006 (n=37,500) across 32 retailer web sites spanning multiple categories, it found that those users that consumed localized in-store sale information online were more likely to visit a retail store location and do so at a higher frequency than those users that did not see this in-store sale information. This to me is just another validating data point that proves the web to store behavior happens at a measurable and impactful rate. Shows ShopLocal Being THE Black Friday Shopping Resource

I am sick off all of this talk about cyber-monday being the most heavily trafficked day during the holiday season. It is just not true. Not even close, according to JupiterResearch Internet Shopping Model (11/06 - U.S. Only) which sites Black Friday and Thanksgiving as the heaviest online traffic days. This makes a lot of sense here at ShopLocal, as both our internal web logs and Alexa reporting show this exact same trend where the peak traffic days are these two and NOT cyber-monday.

How Local Search Engines Drive More Business To Local Retailers

Here are four interesting reports that all essentially tell the same story of how online search is driving retail in store sales.

The first comes from Jupiter Research, were it points out the large disparity between online influence and online ad spending. If you are in the online advertising industry, this clearly demonstrates the market potential that this market sector has.

The next two reports come from the Kelsey Group, where they are attempting to show the diminishing influence that traditional local information source are having (like newspapers and paper based yellow pages). This means that yellow page searches fell 13% over the course of these two years (2003 - 2005) and online local search grew by 10% over the same period.

Here is another chart from the Kelsey Group that essentially tells the same story of how the yellow pages are losing their influence and being replaced by local web searches

Finally in a TKG / BizRate survey from 9/04, it shows that of the total number of online searches that are performed across all search engines, nearly 10% of all of these queries have been localized AND are intended for local retail businesses. That really is a strong statistic if you think of it in context of ALL the billions of searches that are performed by users online.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Online Shoppers Purchase More In Store

According to a study from ShopLocal, the leader in multi-channel shopping services, 85 percent of adult Internet shoppers used the Web to make more informed shopping trips to their local stores. Results of the annual American Interactive Consumer Survey, conducted by The Dieringer Research Group on behalf of ShopLocal, indicate that consumers are using online circulars and other tools to compare prices for big- and small-ticket items alike.

“Nearly nine out of 10 adults – from the 110 million Internet shoppers 18 years and older who go online at least once a month – were found to have used the Internet for local shopping, not an online purchase,” said Bob Armour, chief marketing officer for ShopLocal. “This confirms that the Internet is now widely used for local shopping information as well as making online purchases.”

The annual survey from ShopLocal found that nearly two-thirds of multi-channel shoppers now say the Internet is the most important shopping information resource, confirming the high value of online information about products and stores to local shoppers. In fact, online consumers overall responded that they spend more time researching products online than they spend shopping in person.

Multi-channel shoppers also tend to purchase more at local stores than they originally planned to after doing online research, according to the new study. During the three months prior to the survey, nine out of 10 local shopping trips made by multi-channel consumers for products researched online resulted in purchases worth $125 more than the products researched online – a figure that rose 25 percent from the prior year. This means that retailers get added leverage from advertising their goods and services online due to this spending “halo effect.”

The most frequent use of multi-channel shopping is associated with purchasing of home furnishings, tools, men's apparel, sports and fitness products and major appliances. Other leading products more likely to be purchased locally after online research included household products, tools, small appliances, cameras and telephone products.

The annual American Interactive Consumer Survey, conducted by The Dieringer Research Group (Milwaukee, WI.) was fielded in the fourth quarter of 2006, and interviewed 2,2001 U.S. consumers by phone and online.

Chance Of Pace - How Offiline Research Can Drive Online Search Traffic

This is a short excerpt of an article by Sarah Mahoney at MediaPost where she writes about...

"A new survey from the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA) finds that traditional offline advertising--especially in magazines--plays a major role in generating online searches.

The poll found that 47.2% of shoppers are most likely to start an online search after viewing a magazine ad, while 43.7% said reading an article was most likely to send them surfing. TV ads (42.8%) came next, followed by newspaper ads (42.3%).

There were also gender differences. Women were more likely than men to be motivated by both coupons (41.8% versus 29.0%) and in-store promotions (29.0% versus 24.5%). And word of mouth inspired more of men's searches: 36.1% of men's searches were inspired by a face-to-face conversation, compared to 29.5% of women.

The poll, which included more than 15,200 shoppers, also turned up some insights about the way consumers share what they have learned online with others. "After searching, online consumers said they are most likely to communicate with others about their search through face-to-face discussion (68.9%)--although e-mail (53.1%), telephone (50.9%), and cell phone (30%) communication were also popular choices," RAMA says. Young adults (18-24) also say they send IMs about what they've learned (37.5%), text message (23.7%), and use outlets like online communities like MySpace and Facebook (20.6%).

While traditional media may spark searches, the poll also affirms that online communication is huge for retailers. According to the survey, 92.5 percent of adults "regularly or occasionally" go online before making a purchase. Electronics continue to be the most researched category (50.8%) followed by apparel (31.9%), and appliances (27.0%).

"When it comes to advertising, retailers always need to be careful not to put all of their eggs in one basket," RAMA says in a release. "While search engine marketing continues to be a popular strategy, retailers should not lose sight of traditional advertising channels to promote products and services.""

Friday, March 09, 2007

Newspapers Are Still The Primary Source Of Pre-Purchase Information For Local Purchases

In the Dieringer Research Group’s American Interactive Consumer Survey 2005 survey (that the NAA was a sponsor of) that attempted to quantify the impact of the internet on shopping related behavior in the U.S, we now know that even as the Internet grows in importance for discerning shoppers, local print newspapers remain top of mind for local purchases by a wide margin.

Among the some highlights taken directly from the study:
  • Local TV, the next most commonly cited “primary source” for local advertising, falls 13 percentage points behind print newspapers.
  • Broadband, tenured and early adopters lead in citing newspapers above all other media for local shopping, and online users are ever more likely to site newspapers as their primary source for local advertising than offline adult users.
  • Nearly 9 out of 10 adult Americans view or read newspaper content in print or online.
  • Overall Internet use still ranks somewhat behind reading of daily print newspapers in terms of the overall size of universe, trailed only slightly by Sunday newspaper readership.
  • Local online newspapers lead national online sources in their branding impact for online consumers.
  • Younger shoppers actually seek out online shopping information in local online newspapers, citing this content as third behind only weather and local entertainment as what they prefer.

Even Wal-Mart Is Hoping Aboard The Web - To - Store Bus

This last Tuesday (3/6/07), Wal-Mart Stores rolled out an initial phase of it's Site - to - Store service to about a dozen states, which allows customers to buy merchandise online at and pick it up at any store (that is currently participating) for free. The rest of the US stores plan to have this service in place by late summer '07. This is Walmart's first major entry into offering customers a multi-channel shopping experience. The new service gives the Wal-Mart customer access to thousands of items not sold in stores, especially electronic, home, toy, baby and sports items.

"A key advantage of Wal-Mart's online channel is the ability to offer a much larger assortment of products through our virtual shelf space," said Mike Smith,'s director of store integration.

Site - to - Store not only offers these customers access to thousands of additional online products, but also gives them the added convenience of picking up those items at the store during their weekly shopping trips without paying for shipping.