ADOTAS – Local Corporation, a company that provides products and services intended to help brick-and-mortar businesses build web presence and connect to customers digitally, released the first round of results from what it says is extensive research into behavior across multiple consumer experiences (digital and tangible alike). In the initial part of the study, Local looked at the path to purchase consumers took, via home computers, tablets, smartphones and the physical storefront. And they found, in a phrase, that shopping habits are extremely subjective. “The pattern is, there’s no pattern,” said Local’s vice president of ad solutions, David Simon, during a conversation yesterday at the ad:tech conference in San Francisco. Most notably for Local and its clients, in spite of common perceptions that brick-and-mortar retail and online retail are somehow at odds with each other, the study found that 90 percent of shoppers still involve a physical store somewhere in their path to purchase.
Through the survey of over 1,000 consumers, Local turned up a whole bunch of stats about the way connected consumers shop today: Nearly two in three shoppers use at least one device to research while shopping or to make purchases, 60 percent do product or service research “several times a month” via a mobile device, and 47 percent said they use smartphones to search for local information, such as details about a local physical store (46 percent said they research prices on the mobile site of a store where they intend to shop, and 42 percent check inventory online before going to the store itself). More than a third of the respondents reported making at least one purchase via mobile in the previous six months. While shopping — researching or buying — 28 percent said they used two devices at the same time — “everything from shopping in the aisle on mobile or lounging at home on the iPad,” Simon said.
“Patterns are shifting,” Simon explained, “especially in retail.” He said the results showed that while shoppers enjoy the convenience of researching and buying via the web, they also value “experimenting, putting the product in their hands.” He referred to the modern shopping experience as “this intersection of experiences. [Shoppers] are doing these funny hybrids.” He compared this point, that of realizing the degree to which people are complementing shopping in physical stores with research they’re simultaneously conducting on mobile devices, to the point when it became clear how many people were online while watching TV. “People enjoy swimming around in this media experience,” he said. ”
And, naturally, retailers need to respond by having a web presence that contains “very relevant, localized information,” said Simon. “It doesn’t have to be the same experience, but it needs to be consistent.” Simon pointed to Local’s rich media ad platform, Rovion, as one possible aide in that kind of consistency. “You want to make sure it works everywhere,” he said, referring to advertising across multiple kinds of devices. And to Simon, the survey’s results mean it’s extremely important for businesses to consider their presence across mobile devices. “It’s kind of like with social media, when people said, ‘Oh, I have to have a Facebook page,'” he said, affecting a tired sigh. “Well — you do.”
In part, that web and mobile presence matters because it drives users to a physical store, which Simon says is what they want anyway. When researching a product, he said, “they want to see it, and they want to see it within 20 miles from their home, most likely.” When working with businesses and brands on their media strategy, he said, “You need to promote and advertise where you have a physical presence.”
Simon said these survey results are just part of a wide-range snapshot Local has taken of the contemporary commercial arena, and they’ll be rolling out other chunks of the data over the coming months. The numbers, he said, go beyond conjecture and hypothesizing about why and when people shop the way they do, as other sources have done via smaller slices of research. “This is real data,” he said of Local’s research. “I’m telling you, it matters.”