Retail is changing, consumer behavior is changing, and there is no going back. Look at some facts collected by Google:
- 66% of consumers follow up online when they see something interesting in a TV commercial.
- 82% use a search engine first when they plan to go to a local business.
- 75% of consumers who find useful local information online — whether an item is in stock at their local store, for example — are more likely to go to the physical store.
- 82% of smartphone users consult their phones while deciding what to buy in a store.
- 91% of smartphone users have consulted their phones for help while accomplishing a task.
Google’s sample size for online behavior is enormous, and while it may leave out people who don’t use the internet and don’t use smartphones, it provides an accurate picture of the modern, always-on consumer.
Google is also now providing technology for measuring store visits, phone calls, and other offline behavior. The sample size is smaller, but retailers like PetSmart and Sears are already finding that the new technology allows them to connect online with offline behavior among their customers.
Walmart already collects massive amounts of data about offline actions among consumers, and is using apps and Walmart.com to collect information about online behavior.
As a Walmart supplier, you may not have access to all the data that companies the size of Walmart and Google can command. But the data being shared publicly, along with Retail Link data on your own products, allows all suppliers to make some smart decisions:
- Strengthen your online presence. Even if you use TV and print ads in addition to in-store marketing opportunities, you must be the best source of online information for your category. That’s where much of the decision making takes place, even when the purchasing happens in a physical store.
- Make your mobile useful. Is it easy for consumers to find the information they need to make a decision when they’re using a mobile device? Shoppers check reviews and specs online when they’re deciding whether or not to buy. If you aren’t the best source of information, they’ll get that information from other sites — which you can’t control.
- Follow the entire path to purchase. It may start with a TV commercial, go on through Pinterest, and end up in the store. Then your customer shares her experience on social media and starts the cycle for someone else. Make sure you’re there every step of the way.