How physical stores can benefit from the surge in online shopping

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Orange County Digital is well-versed in boosting our clients to success in the new digital world we live in.  If you’re not ready to take advantage of online shopping, you should set up a meeting with me in order to have a better understanding of what it takes.  The term “Ignorance is Bliss” does not apply.

Life looks and feels very different now than it did at the start of 2020. The use of technology by people and businesses leapt forward during lockdown, accelerating remote working, e-learning, e-commerce, and online social connections. People are spending more time online than ever before and are turning to Google to explore, research, and plan their purchases — both online and in the real world.

Owning physical stores is incredibly difficult right now. Yet retailers of all sizes are finding that maximizing their presence online can help them reach potential customers who do want to buy in person. Connecting offline and online retail experiences has never been more important.

Buying behaviors have changed dramatically in the last six months and many of those behaviors are likely to stick. People are planning their visits to stores more carefully, leading to a spike in interest for real-time information. People care about what’s in stock, and they want to know whether a store offers curbside pickup and when its doors open and close. Everyone needs reassurance that they’ll find what they’re looking for before they leave home.

In stock graphic

For example, in Germany, we’ve seen search interest for “opening hours today” double compared with last year.  And global searches for “in-stock” have grown more than 700% year over year. At the same time, shopping locally has become even more important: searches containing “available near me” have more than doubled globally.

Retailers of all sizes are finding that maximizing their presence online can help them reach potential customers who do want to buy in person.

New Google research shows the pandemic has made people more flexible about whether they buy online or offline. Seventy-three percent now describe themselves as channel agnostic, compared with 65% before the global health crisis.  While the pandemic has accelerated digital adoption and online sales are growing, new research from Euromonitor found it’s expected that 78% of purchases will still be made in stores by 2024.

Meet your customers where they are — whether online or in stores

My team’s mission is to help companies of all sizes drive growth by meeting consumers where they are, whether online or in store, and to put digital transformation within reach for more advertisers.

Research found it’s expected that 78% of purchases will still be made in stores by 2024.

DIY retailer Castorama is just one of the many retailers globally that quickly pivoted to launch curbside pickup service amid lockdown orders and store closures. To keep its customers informed, Castorama updated its Google My Business profile and started using Local Inventory Ads for the first time, highlighting its new offer. Overall, Castorama saw online sales increase tenfold over a 10-week period.

Restaurants can now specify services like dine-in or takeout on Google Search, and adding retail service attributes such as “in-store shopping” and “curbside pickup.” These features help people use digital tools to explore the world around them, providing greater certainty and reassurance when they make a trip to physical stores.

There will continue to be challenging times ahead. And we’ll continue to pivot, innovate, and respond to shifting needs to help you stay up to speed. The retail environment will continue to evolve at a rapid pace, and thankfully, online marketing tools can help drive recovery. While I don’t know what 2021 will bring, I do know the use of technology will help people and businesses prepare for what’s next.

(Some parts of this article are courtesy of Google.)

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