It’s about time we measured online searches

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This week the British Retail Consortium and Google released their first quarterly Online Retail Monitor (ORM) to measure retail search traffic.

The report is designed to provide an online equivalent to measuring high street footfall. It counts retail related search terms put into Google by consumers. It then ranks them to compare the performance of online only and multichannel retailers.

It’s about time retailers had a quantitative measure of what’s going on online. While the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index monitors online retail sales growth and the BRC’s monthly high street report includes sales figures for “non-food non-store” sales, it’s not good enough that this lumps online sales in with phone and mail order.

The report looks at online and mobile traffic, online only retailers and those with bricks and clicks operations. It also lists the top 10 searches.

Unsurprisingly, the report found that retail search traffic via mobile devices is growing phenomenally – up 181% during the first quarter of the year, compared to last year.

Total retail searches were up 29% and although mobile is growing from a low base, it’s a clear signal for retailers that haven’t tuned into it yet.

Searches from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets now account for 11% of all retail searches. When you consider that iPhone has only been around since 2007, that’s a high proportion.

It also showed that retailers with multichannel operations reported a bigger increase in searches than those that are online only. A signal that both stores and ecommerce performs better in tandem than alone.

It’s only the first of what will be a quarterly report so it will be interesting to see what trends emerge over the coming year, and how retailers chose to use the data to inform their online, and offline strategies.

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