National retail Chains such as Best Buy have learned that mobile is a powerful force in the quest to draw customers in-store. The electronics retailer reallocated it’s broadcast budget to digital, where they could leverage the benefits of local inventory ads that showcase their products and store information to nearby shoppers searching on Google.

By showing local store inventory online, Best Buy increased their website traffic by 44% and drove over 1 million in-store visits, according to Think With Google.

While those are impressive results, many smaller retailers might wonder if mobile can really improve their foot traffic when their brand is significantly less visible than large retailers like Best Buy and Target.

Small Biz Daily thinks so:

“Today, 64% of Americans and a whopping 80% of online adults now own smartphones. And for some, smartphones have even replaced PCs, as these devices have become the sole way they access the Internet.”

 

“…the prevalence of mobile devices has created a sea of change in the way consumers make the majority of their shopping decisions, representing a real opportunity for small businesses.”

Advertising Age also shared the following statistics on mobile shopping trends:

  • 50% of consumers using their smartphones for local searches end up visiting a store within a day, while 18% of those searches result in a purchase.
  • 82% of shoppers say they consult their phones on purchases they’re about to make in a store.

With consumers relying on their smartphones to “window shop” for the products they’re looking for prior to visiting local stores to make their purchases, the need for an integrated inventory management system that perpetually keeps websites up to date is more important than ever.

Nobody knows this better than South Carolina retailer, MusicianSupply. As a dual-location retailer offering musical instruments, guitars (acoustic and electric), amplifiers, drum sets, and accessories, inventory management was a challenge until they found a web store solution that featured a single database to manage inventory between the website and point of sale in a seamless, integrated process.

The Vital Link Between Accurate Inventory and Mobile Shoppers

Considering that 1 in 4 people avoid stores because they don’t know if a product is in stock, businesses with perpetually updated inventory management systems—like the cloud-based POS platform used by MusicianSupply—will have an advantage over other stores with less reliable inventory numbers.

Why’s that? When consumers know that the inventory items they see on a brand’s website are represented accurately, they’ll be more likely to visit their store and make a purchase. This helps build trust and drive more foot traffic.

MusicianSupply has recently begun to see the promising correlation between accurate inventory numbers and mobile shoppers as customers find the products they’re looking for online, then head to the store to ask staff members about the instuments they saw on their website.

Source: MusicianSupply via Rain Retail Software

Interestingly, at the time Rain Retail Software filmed a testimonial video on location at MusicanSupply, a Rain representative watched as a customer came in to inquire about a product they’d seen online and make a purchase.

In another instance, a customer who’d been searching for a guitar in a particular color visited MusicianSupply and asked a staff member about the instrument he’d seen online. While the product in question wasn’t on display at the time (it was actually on a shelf in the stockroom), the customer was still able to find the exact guitar he wanted because it was on the store’s website.

Due to the accuracy and efficiency of MusicianSupply’s inventory management system, they were able to meet the needs of mobile shoppers and increase product sales.

The Takeaway

According to a report by Google Inc.:

  • More than two-thirds of smartphone owners use their devices to purchase products or services weekly. [source: digital commerce]
  • 92% of people who search on a smartphone make an offline or online purchase related to the search within a day. [source: digital commerce]
  • 70% of consumers take an action on their smartphone, such as conduct a search, look at images online or use social media before making an in-store purchase [source: digital commerce].

These numbers strongly point to the fact that modern day consumers are more inclined to use the Internet to gather information before they make a purchase.

This represents a golden opportunity for SMB’s to increase brand visibility and drive foot traffic to their physical locations. Maintaining an accurate and updated inventory management system will allow customers to “window shop”  for the products they want and encourage them to pay a visit to local business establishments to make their purchases in-store.

About Author

Sherene Funk

Sherene Funk is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime (but that doesn't stop her from collecting more). A graduate of Brigham Young University, she has published several humorous non-fiction articles and worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current position as a writer on modern retailing at Rain Retail Software.

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