Online Research for In-Store Purchases Increasing

A reverse in the showrooming trend.

The practice of “showrooming” (where potential consumers already in-store decide which item they want to buy and then search for a cheaper option online) used to be feared by store owners and retail chains. However, the tide is turning; Reverse Showrooming (research conducted online before going to a physical store to make the purchase) is on the rise as more stores have better stock management and in store stock volume data is displayed.

The ROBO (Research Online, Buy Offline) shopper is heavily influenced by consumer-generated content such as reviews, ratings and blogs.

According to recent research by online review platform BazaarVoice, 54% of online buyers and 39% of in-store buyers also read online reviews before making a purchase.

Online vs instore research

Not surprisingly the higher-priced items had a higher percentage of online research before being purchased. Whiteware, electronics and automotive categories lead the field in online research. Surprisingly, however, 49% of consumers research men’s apparel online before making an offline purchase.

Mobile Research Before Buying

Just as importantly, having consumer-generated content available for your products and business can stem the flow of potential buyers in-store, leaving for a competitor.

A Feb 2016 Google study found that 82% of consumers used a mobile device in-store before making a purchase. If they didn’t find the information they were looking for then 32% did not complete a transaction and a further 10% deflected to other retail stores that did.

Why should you care?

As the number of consumers who research online and ultimately buy offline (ROBO shoppers) continues to rise, the ROBO shopper should be viewed as a significant, new marketing opportunity.

Whether your goal is to drive more in-store sales or online conversions, you must take measures now to increase the volume of consumer-generated content for your products. Sufficient CGC volume is paramount — particularly when it comes to high ticket items, those with health and safety considerations, or when introducing a new product or brand. A higher volume of CGC also extends the reach of your content via SEO, as Google loves fresh consumer content.

A few years ago businesses used to fear consumers “torpedoing” their brand on social media platforms such as their company Facebook page. Now they have realised that consumers are making those statements and rating products anyway.

Rather than ignore the opportunity all together, brands can benefit by allowing consumers to create and access reviews and ratings. In doing so, they can still moderate the messaging and influence some of what CGC is shown to the consumer.

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About the Author Glenn Marvin

Glenn is a Partner and Senior Consultant who has had a very successful career building growth companies in the private equity arena. He has a wealth of experience in both the digital space and strategy development. Prior to becoming a partner in SureFire Glenn built one of the largest digital teams in New Zealand for a NASDAQ listed global online marketing company & Google's largest premium partner.

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