An online presence can enhance brick-and-mortar and international sales
In the past few years, retailers have had to adjust their business strategies to account for the latest technology that shapes the way customers shop. Mobile point of sale systems, omnichannel advertising and branded apps are just some of the industry's responses to the latest mercantile landscape.
All the while, consumer shopping habits are continuing to evolve. While smartphone and tablet ownership is widespread, many individuals still do not own these devices and are only now growing accustomed to how they assist in product research. Google and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) recently revealed that the total retail search volume increased by 12 percent in the third quarter of 2013 in comparison to the same time last year.
Smartphone-based searches grew by 58 percent, while those on tablets rose 100 percent. As mobile devices become more popular, this also means that fewer people will rely on their desktops, and Google and the BRC's data backs this up with a 10 percent decrease in searches from personal computers between the third quarter of 2012 and 2013. Figures also showed that international interest in U.K. retailers rose, with search volume increasing by 23 percent, compared to only 16 percent during the second quarter. Overseas consumers were particularly interested in clothing and beauty brands. Much of this also originated with mobile devices. As portable devices proliferate, consumers will be able to enhance their research efforts and businesses should be ready for an uptick in curious customers, both international and domestic.
"Retailers are continuing to invest significantly in their multichannel offer, so that they can provide customers fast and user-friendly ways to browse and buy whether in-store, at home or on the move," said Helen Dickinson, director general at BRC.
More information for a wider audience
While ecommerce is often a convenient way for customers to shop online, a Web presence can also improve sales by reaching new audiences or providing consumers with more information. Some shoppers will always prefer to buy in person because it gives them the opportunity to try on apparel, test the quality of an item or otherwise get a feel for what they are buying. However, being able to look at products online can drive their initial interest.
As for international buyers, merchants must offer a versatile system that details products to customer satisfaction, and that has a streamlined POS solution to create a simple purchasing experience. By using the right retail management software, businesses can handle an ever-diversified customer-base, regardless of whether they are interested in research alone or a more involved delivery process.