Friday, November 21, 2014

Going Online, Locally

For brick and mortar retailers going online can be the easiest way to drive more, intent-based traffic to their storefronts.  It’s not without challenges, but worthwhile considering the number of shoppers who are researching online and buying locally as we head towards the 2014 holiday shopping season.  

What's the Big Idea?

I recently tweeted about a post on holiday shopping trends for 2014.  No surprise, online shopping continues to grow year over year and mobile will grow exponentially this season.   That said, the post points out two key retail trends the holiday shopping season: price is not the primary driver for purchase decisions and consumers prefer to buy from local retailers.  In Deloitte’s annual holiday shopping survey for 2014, they break down the preference for in-store vs online purchases by category, once again, in-store will beat online this season in every category.

As online retail matures, reality sets in for online only retailers, namely, they need to sell goods at a profit too.   The “big idea” for small, local retailers is that you don’t have to deeply discount your stock to compete with online-only retailers. The convenience of local pick-up and consumers desire to purchase locally will drive customer purchase decisions this holiday season and for the foreseeable future.

Buy Local, Deliver to Me

We are witnessing the rise of convenience based shopping applications.   Research and purchase online with local delivery services like Google Shopping Express and upstart Wedeliver for goods, Munchery and Seamless for meal delivery are rapidly gaining momentum.  Unlike the great Webvan experiment, these services started small and are growing based on real customer demand.  Although this mirrors an online shopping experience, we should not assume this as “the be all, end all” for local retail.  Rather, one of many options for research online and buy local available to consumers in the future.  From the Deloitte report, we see that 68% of consumers will research online and buy locally, in-store this holiday season.  

The Trend is Local

So what is it about support for local retail the 2014 holiday season?   For many reasons, consumers want to support local retail:

  • It supports the communities in which they live
  • Allows consumers to “see before you buy”
  • Purchase or return close to home
  • Buy and hold at the store for later pickup
  • Curated items that simply are not available at big box and online-only retailers

There are many more factors, but I’ll leave the marketing and merchandising discussion for another post.  For now lets take the numbers at face value and know the local purchase trend is in favor of local retail.

How to Go Online, Locally

The fact is many more consumers will research online and buy local this season than purchase at online stores. So what can you do to get your items in front of searching consumers?  Local retail can ride the wave of online research and purchase locally by integrating their inventory into large shopping sites like:

At Grapevine, we offer a free service for small, local retailers to help them manage and link their inventory to local shopping sites like those listed above and more.