According to the US Department of Commerce, less than 9% of total retail sales were online in Q1 of 2017. While this number has been steadily rising over the last ten years, it is lower than some of us might think. Does this data mean that today’s retailer doesn’t need to worry about selling products online? Absolutely not.
While the actual sales from online shopping are only around 9%, the use of the internet as a means of researching products is much higher.
According to GE Capital Retail Bank’s Second Annual Major Purchase Shopper Study, 81% of consumers do research online before making a purchasing decision. While these researchers sometimes complete their shopping experience online, many of them take it to the storefront.
% of consumers do research online before making a purchasing decision
Cisco reports that 65% of shoppers research online, but purchase in store.
Other studies support this data. Forbes quoted a study done by shopping center operator Westfield in which they found that 73% of UK shoppers said that touch and feel, and trial of the products, was a main benefit of physical stores.
Google connects the dots between online researching and in-store product trial with the following data: nearly 60% of Google searches are happening on mobile devices and 76% of mobile local search is leading to customers visiting the store within a day.
All of these studies point to the same thing: shoppers want to research online and then come into your store to see and purchase the product. Because a high percentage of today’s offline shopping actually starts online, retailers need to have their inventory available online so their website will come up in search results when consumers are searching for specific products in their local area. Then consumers can see the available products, and visit the store to learn more and complete the purchase.
If retailers do not put their inventory online, their shop will not be found when consumers search for the very product they have. That consumer will most likely shop with a competitor who does have their inventory online. The retailer without inventory online will lose the sale and their overall foot traffic and sales will dwindle.
Online traffic is an essential part of offline foot traffic.
When considering the ROI of your website or online store, be aware that the revenue increases caused by an online presence may not appear in the online store. While an online store will bring in online sales, it also becomes a pathway to the brick and mortar store. The dollars may show up in the physical store, even if the customer started their shopping process in the online one.
To increase your foot traffic and overall revenue, you need a cloud-based POS that keeps inventory up to date online and in the store. This way customers can shop on your website, see that an item is in stock, then drive to the store to check it out and purchase it.
Customers cannot buy products that they don’t see. You need to have your inventory online and you need a POS system that makes the process quick and painless so that it doesn’t fall to the back burner.