Google touts retail solutions

Google is briefing retailers to prepare their high street stores for emerging consumer behaviours in wake of the failure of brands including Comet, HMV and Jessops to adapt quickly enough to such changes.


The initiative, one of Google’s key strategic priorities in 2013, involves raising awareness of how consumers use digital while in-store, showcasing their latest digital tools, including in-store mapping and video chat functions, and how to link online behaviours to offline purchases.

The move comes as a survey by Cisco, which looked at the habits of 5,000 consumers across the UK, US, Brazil, Mexico and China, identified these trends terming them as “cross-channel shopping.”

Google is using this study, conducted in late 2012, to demonstrate how consumers often begin researching purchases online and vice versa, in a phenomena known as “show-rooming” (see chart below).

Peter Fitzgerald, Google’s country sales director for the UK, told Marketing Week: “Users are demanding more in-store and businesses are increasingly having to become multi-channel, having tools in place [such as endless aisles that present users with more information on products] can help increase in-store conversion.”

He quotes the Cisco research which states 23 per cent of UK participants currently use digital in-store kiosks to research a purchase and 16 per cent use their mobile phones to do likewise.

Fitzgerald also explains how Google is emphasising the importance of retailers making sure their sites are optimised for other emerging behaviours such as consumers search for nearby goods and services while on the high street itself.

As a response to the increase in mobile searches, Google is advising retailers to share their stock availability feed so it can be then be fed into Google’s search results meaning users can more easily identify which outlets have items they specifically want, for instance a pair of shoes in a specific colour and size.

“Businesses that embrace the internet are 26 per cent more profitable,” he says citing mother and baby retailer Kiddicare as a particular example of a retailer successfully using digital to bolster its business, both online and offline.

Kiddicare is poised to open 10 new bricks and mortar outlets having successfully integrated digital into its off- and online marketing as well as implementing digital into its in-store format, including in-store kiosks and free Wi-Fi, he says. An expansion strategy he says was facilitated by “clicks and bricks.”

As part of this charm offensive, Google is also promoting other tools including its in-store mapping feature, which lets retailers provide a layout of specific sections of their stores to accommodate local search, as well as its payments system Google Wallet.

Percentage of UK respondents who have searched using one channel and made a purchase through another

  • PC-to-store: 64 per cent do it now; 18 per cent interested in doing it
  • Store-to-online: (mobile or PC): 47 per cent do it now; 19 per cent interested in doing it
  • Kiosk-to-store: (immediate in-store sale): 39 per cent do it now; 26 per cent interested in doing it
  • Kiosk-to-store: (later in-store pickup): 31 per cent do it now; 27 per cent interested in doing it
  • Kiosk-to-store: (delivery to location of choice): 23 per cent do it now; 29 per cent interested in doing it
  • Mobile-to-store: 23 per cent do it now; 23 per cent interested in doing it
  • Mobile-to-PC: 27 per cent do it now; 22 per cent interested in doing it

Source: Cisco

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