Shoppers make more buying decisions at home—how should retailers respond?

Shoppers make more buying decisions at home—how should retailers respond?

For years, consumers have mined the Internet for info before purchasing big-dollar items like TVs and cars. But according to a recent Wall Street Journal report, more people are starting to price-compare produce, pet treats, diapers and milk online before ever setting foot into stores.  

The article states that more than one-fifth of consumers now research food and beverages, almost one-third study up on pet products, and 39 percent research baby products online before heading to brick-and-mortar stores to make purchases. Blame the recession; thank technology—the fact is consumers are becoming increasingly educated and diligent with each dollar.

When people craft shopping lists in their living rooms, they may be more likely to stick to them. This could mean that in-store signage and promotions carry less clout and spark fewer impulse sales than in the very recent past. Therefore, the key to marketing products effectively, the article suggests, is to weave online components into marketing strategies, via social media, blogs or interactive websites.

But more at-home research can also dictate which stores consumers choose to shop. For instance, if one store’s Facebook page screams six or seven can’t-miss deals while another store’s app trumpets just two, a consumer might opt to stop by the first store and skip the second altogether. Meanwhile, a third store, by not promoting its specials online, might put itself right out of the running—even if its shelves are actually bursting with sale items.

Therefore, retailers can heed the same advice: Incorporate online and mobile technology tools into marketing and advertising platforms. This doesn’t mean ditch signs and fliers and abandon all old-school methods, but maybe try a few newer techniques, especially no- and low-cost ones like Twitter, Facebook and virtual coupon clubs.

Shoppers are still coming in, still seeking satisfying store experiences—it’s just how and when they decide to open their wallets that are changing.  


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