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Google Says this Year is Marking the First “Nonline” Holiday Season

Published: December 3, 2012 | 11:19 am
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The Next Great Digital Marketing Opportunity


Google says this year is marking the first “nonline” holiday season, meaning this year’s online and offline shopping experiences are going to be more seamless than ever before.

Google’s Daniel Sieberg told 9NEWS the trend was especially evident on Cyber Monday. He said it was partly due to the rising popularity of mobile devices, which are increasingly being leveraged as shopping tools for consumers on the go.

Google’s own research shows four in five mobile phone and tablet owners are using their devices to help them holiday shop.

They say 56 percent of tablet users are using their device to compare prices, while 44 percent of smartphone users are using them to discover a nearby store based on location. Sieberg pointed out that retailers with a mobile optimized website or an app are already a step ahead of their competition.

Siebert explained that this multi-channel approach to shopping further proves that the lines between offline and online shopping experiences are blurring.

He says the research also shows that 51 percent of shoppers are looking up products online and then visiting a store to make a purchase, while 32 percent are researching online, visiting a store to view the product and then returning online to make the purchase.

At the other end of the scale, Sieberg said 17 percent of consumers will first visit a store to view a product and then make the purchase online. He says this is proof that retailers  maintain a consistent brand experience across all channels.

As the 2012 holiday shopping season heats up, one trend many marketers and analysts will closely monitor the concept of “showrooming.” Showrooming occurs when consumers try out merchandise in stores then go online to buy them, often at a discounted price.

Fifty-six percent of American consumers are expected to participate in some aspect of showrooming this holiday season, according to Mobile Marketer.

Showrooming is driving many brick-and-mortar retailers crazy as they attempt to thwart the effects of Amazon and other online retailers on their bottom line. It’s also causing several well-known global retail giants, including Best Buy, to seriously rethink the physical size and make-up of their stores.

In fact, the distinction between online and offline shopping are disappearing.

The concept is called “nonline” shopping. And it may harken the next great wave in-store shopper marketing.

“I think the whole concept of nonline is customers are connected to brands at all times of the day, and they’re going to choose how they want to interact and, at the end of the day, purchase,” Brett Goffin, Google’s retail head of industry, told DMNews. “The retailers who understand that are going to be ones in the long-term that, we believe, are going to succeed.”

‘Nonline’ Shopping’s Lessons for Marketers

According to Google’s Goffin two factors are contributing to the blurring of offline and online shopping: consumers’ rising comfort with online shopping and their decreased fears over online credit-card fraud.

Consumers are increasingly going to a physical store to become more educated about a product – to touch it, play with it and see how it works in their hands. Shoppers then go online to comparison shop for deals. They will either make a purchase online or go back to the store where they first became comfortable with the product and make their purchase there.

The question becomes, What can retailers do to take advantage of nonline shoppers?

To be sure, there are several facets of online shopping that likely will remain immune to the growth of “nonline” shopping. And the actual impact of “nonline” shopping may be negligible in light of the fact that an increasing percentage of Americans make their purchase decisions online – whether through message boards, social media or a brand’s website.

But in an era where the very concept of having a big, physical store to show off expensive, one-time purchases is called into question, the growth of “nonline” shopping is surely a comfort to many reatilers. It presents a new opportunity for digital marketers who are already envisioning a world in which the online and offline mix interchangeably. That world will likely include some form of “nonline” shopping.

It’s not news that people are spending and doing a lot more on the phone than ever before. What is noteworthy is how much consumers will be using their phones come holiday shopping time to compare prices (referred to as “showrooming”) and ultimately make purchases. More than half of people who own a mobile device (55.3 percent to be exact) plan on using it to shop this year according to Prosper Mobile Insights.

Historically brick and mortar stores have bled sales to online retailers like Amazon, Ebay, and Gilt (to name a few) as consumers compare prices in store and find better deals instantly. From celebrity appearances, to in-store loyalty rewards, and even lobbying Congress to collect sales tax on online shopping—retailers have tried everything to keep consumers in their stores—and purchase in their stores. This year however, all that is about to change due to mobile. Leading the way are stores like Target, Saks, Macys and Best Buy.

The aforementioned stores finally wised up to the power of mobile and are fighting fire with fire. The biggest weapon against online rivals: price matching. Best Buy announced they will match online retailor prices as well as offer free shipping for out-of-stock items this holiday season. Taking a cue from Best Buy, Target will also match certain online retailers from November 1 to December 16 as well as roll out QR codes on toys so shoppers can buy them online and have them shipped. Saks takes it a step further by adding free Wi-Fi to its stores to promote their mobile commerce website.

While most stores have been late to the m-commerce game, this holiday season is sure to be the push they need to enter the space. As stores look for more creative ways to crush online retailors through apps, discounts, and a more robust in-store experience, consumers are the winners in the end. We’re only a few weeks off from Black Friday, but stores are wasting no time to engage consumers on their phones.

Best Buy Exec: Here’s The Truth About The ‘Showrooming’ Phenomenon

There has been a lot of hype around the battle between physical stores and the online realm.

There’s the rise of showrooming (consumers trying out merchandise in stores then going online to buy them), the inability to match prices and a whole plethora of other issues that are seemingly killing brick-and-mortar retailers.

But Scott Durchslag, who took the helm of Best Buy’s online and mobile operations, has something to say about that.

“I think a lot of the discussion, debate and analysis that I have seen is based on a false dichotomy of ‘bricks vs. clicks. I don’t think it’s online versus bricks-and-mortar stores because that’s not the way the consumer behaves. That’s not the way the consumer thinks. It’s intrinsically multi-channel — the way the consumer behaves. 60 percent of the customers in Best Buy stores have been on BestBuy.com or are on it when they’re actually in the store live. People are using it real-time while they’re there. I think the opportunity is to really bring these together.

Once they’re in the store, they’re yours to lose … A lot of people talk and write about the ‘showrooming’ phenomenon. It’s a symptom, not a cause. There are things that you’re not doing for the consumer that makes them not want to purchase.”

As for Georgian market, nonline shopping is not that attractive. Even if you find an item at a local store and search for an analogue product on the internet, the price might be a bit less because of shipping costs and not worth waiting for the long-time delivery. However, if you’re planning a purchase at least a month ahead you might save some Laries ordering online.




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