Digital and In-Store Retail Myths Debunked

The growth of digital has caused many to doubt the relevance of in-store retail.

In-store retail has certainly been struggling to cope with digital and its massive expansion in the commerce space. But just like U2 and their big Apple-sponsored comeback, physical retail isn’t done yet, and here are three myths about in-store retail that have been debunked courtesy of Google.

Myth: Google is only useful for driving online sales

There’s a widely held belief that customers searching for a product or brand on Google or another search engine are just looking to buy online, and so search results are really only useful for driving eCommerce sales. The truth is, Google discovered that “three out of four shoppers who find local information in search results helpful are more likely to visit stores.” That should have big implications in the type of information retailers are making readily available on their websites, and it should also inform their SEO efforts. The type of info that shoppers find most valuable includes in-store pricing, availability, and store locations and details (hours, phone number, etc.).

Myth: In-store customers become distracted by their smartphones

It would make logical sense if engagement by in-store customers drops once the phone comes out. But Google actually found that “almost half of shoppers head to the retailer’s own site or app” to find information while in-store. Retailers can take advantage of this by building a strong mobile experience that delivers value to in-store customers looking to do more research. This is also vital in preventing shoppers from searching for deals from the retailer’s competitors, which around 30% of in-store shoppers actually do.

Myth: Digital retail has reduced the in-store experience to a purely transactional one

Many retailers falsely believe that customers perform all of their research online and simply visit a store for the final step in the purchase journey — the actual purchase. But, Google found that as many as one third of shoppers will go to a store when first considering a purchase, and about another third perform active research in-store before making a purchase. Shoppers are also expecting more from retailers than ever when it comes to customized in-store experiences: 85% of shoppers said they’d be more likely to shop in a store that offers personalized, exclusive offers in-store.

Digital didn’t kill in-store retail

At the end of the day, the common thread through Google’s research was basically that digital doesn’t necessarily spell out doom for physical retail. On the contrary, physical retailers can take advantage of digital technologies to enhance their in-store experiences, provide more value to shoppers, and ultimately improve their bottom lines.

For another look at how digital and physical retail collide, check out our article on the overlap of online and in-store fashion retail.
Adam Witbeck
Adam Witbeck
Adam's background includes ten years of technical sales experience. For some reason, he also happens to be obsessed with customer satisfaction and rapid response time. Feel free to email him with any questions.