Retailers – Get Mobile Ready for the Holiday Season

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We’ve all done it, been on the point of taking a product to the till in the shop and then thought hold on I’ll just check the Amazon reviews on this / check if it’s in an online sale anywhere else /phone my mum.

While nobody can change your mum’s opinion on your potential purchases, retailers can be prepared for shoppers researching while in store by ensuring their own online presence is competitive and by preparing in-store staff for questions based on online research.

84% of shoppers use smartphones in-store as shopping companions.  And one in three shoppers turn to their phones instead of asking an employee, according to research conducted by Google earlier this year.

Even before shoppers step in to the shop – smartphones have become a “door-to-the-store”. And that is particularly true during the holidays. According to Google, 76% of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day.

Indeed, a Deloitte 2012 report stated that, by 2016, smartphones, used as part of a shopping experience, could impact 15-18% of in-store retail sales – an estimated £35–£43 billion. The same Deloitte report also concluded that smartphone shoppers are 7% more likely than non-smartphone shoppers to convert in store.

What do people do on their Smartphone while out shopping?

The 2014/2015 Google Consumer Barometer Survey asked 1163 respondents the following question:

 “Which of these activities – if any – did you do while out shopping for your last purchase? –

  • Performed a location search
  • Scanned QR codes
  • Retrieved Coupons
  • Researched Products In Store
  • Shared Product Photos

In the UK, 25-34 year old males on a medium income were the most active demographic group on all of these activities, apart from ‘Researched Products in Store’ –  where, interestingly, 45-54 year old males were the top demographic. Across the UK results, those in the low income bracket barely featured on any of the activities.


In Ireland, males were again the most likely to perform any of the smartphone activities while shopping – this time with a general spread across all age groups and income levels. Notably compared to the UK, in Ireland low income respondents were as active or even more active in some cases than those on medium to high incomes. Also compared to the UK, the percentage of respondents who scanned QR codes was much lower across all demographics.


The highest percentage of respondents who had performed none of these activities in the UK were females aged 35-44 and in Ireland, females under 25.

To investigate the Google Barometer survey for yourself – click below:

Shop and Search

Based on the Google survey results above it would appear that if you are a retailer targeting men, and in particular targeting men in and around the age of 25, your in-store experience should be fully up to speed with online customer behaviour.

A recent Shoppercentric report concluded that:

Generation Z (15-24 year olds) are twice as likely as other shoppers to cite product displays as important when shopping instore, and 49% agree that they use the displays instore/online to give them ideas (versus 41% of the broader shopping population).

While female shoppers in this survey are shown to be less active on their smartphones when out shopping, overall Google research points to women buying products on the mobile web twice as much as men during the entire holiday season. As shown in the Google research graph below, men are more likely to complete their mobile purchases in the week of Christmas.


Get Mobile Ready

Whether your target customers are among the organised early online shoppers or the last minute crowd trawling the shelves in store, it’s clear that your online mobile presence will be heavily influential on your holiday sales. Here’s a few start off points to help optimise the mobile retail experience.

  • Begin the door-to-store journey right – shoppers are looking for information on the day of their shopping trip – ensure your website is fully mobile optimised in terms of responsiveness, icon size and page speed.
  • Do the basics – check your store Google My Business profile – it appears above organic search results on location searches and will need to be scrolled past on mobile to reach lower results. Is your location accurate? Are your store opening hours correct? Does your ‘See outside’ photo provide the best first impression of your business?
  • Continue the journey in-store – reflect your online presence with similar in-store displays. Make it easy to avail of online offers, ensure staff are up to speed on processing online discounts / voucher codes etc.
  • 89% of mobile usage is spent within apps – the apps with the highest usage being social media apps. Ensure your store’s social communities are managed to a high level during the busy holiday season. Be fast and professional in responding to all comments and messages. If you have a retail app ensure it’s updated and ready to cope with holiday season traffic.
  • Reviews – Google My Business profiles now pull in reviews of your business from across the web e.g. Facebook reviews, as well as displaying your Google Reviews – ensure any negative reviews are responded to professionally
  • Check the reviews for your top selling products across the web, prepare your staff for customer questions on all aspects.
  • Beware the ‘showroom’ effect  –  an increasingly common pattern where shoppers enter a store purely to touch and view products before buying online elsewhere after consulting a comparison or deal website. Consider price matching and in-store only extras to counteract this.

Using AdWords to Increase Store Conversions


Clever management of your AdWords campaigns can be effective in increasing store visits.  For example:

  • Ask about Local Search Ads – Ads appearing on Google Maps – a format recently rolled out by Google
  • Use Location Targeting to ensure your ad is appearing to those within an easy travel distance to your shop
  • Use Location Ad Extensions to ensure branch location details are visible to users in the areaa
  • Consider Mobile Bid Adjustments to also increase bids on ads showing to users on mobile devices
  • Make use of Structured Snippets for Holiday Season special offers

Google AdWords can measure ‘Store Visit Conversions‘ –  but the metric is only available to retailers with multiple physical locations in eligible countries.  AdWords creates modeled numbers by using current and past data on the number of people who click your ads and later visit your store.

For more information on any of the above – give us a call at Search Scientist and we can talk through optimising your online presence for the holidays!




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