by Dee Stephens (@ClickAss_SEO) It’s no longer about the best TV campaign, the best banner campaign, homepage takeover, the biggest billboard or the best radio campaign — at any given (micro) moment, people are searching for content online, based upon their needs. It’s therefore all about a brand’s omnipresence and the intent of the searcher/consumer.

Many retailers are feeling as if their businesses are under siege, some even going as far as saying it’s the retail apocalypse. In essence, however, now is the opportunity for brands and business to shift with the times, and break free of the old ways of marketing and thinking. I’m not saying ditch your hard-earned skillsets; just expand upon them.

I’m also not negating the historically inspirational tactile experience that you get when you actually go shopping at a store you love. I doubt mobile will eradicate going to a store, but it definitely adds something new to the mix of marketing tools we have available.

Mobile and retail convergence

It’s as if the smartphone has become the sales assistant. Deep down at the core of it, mobile retail experiences can provide that all time feel good, especially when finding deals directly in line with the consumer’s intent and/or purpose.

There are a fair number of retailers and coders that are upping the game and turning our smartphones into the all-time instant gratification, discovery and inspirational tool under the sun, therefore evolving the (dare I say it) “traditional experience”.

The rapid increase of shopping apps, online video, gaming and online platforms such as social media has most people glued to their devices. They are no longer meandering the aisles and aisles of goods in stores; they no longer go from shop to shop by foot or car.

The reality of local retail and search

Over the past year, we have learnt that the relationship between digital and retail stores has changed, and there are three new realities peeking their heads into consumer-data understanding. These realities are predicted to drive retail from a digital perspective throughout 2016 and beyond.

  1. The instore shop assistant is the smartphone
  2. Instore traffic can be driven via digital
  3. An omnipresent approach will help brands tackle the various shopping styles and habits, thereby locking in consumers

What’s evident, and key to understanding this, is that there are some techno-savvy retailers that are reaching their customers by focusing on the online conversion journey and not so much on where that sale happens.

Snack shoppers

The “on-the-go” consumers do their research online, averaging about 15 hours per week. In the search-data game, we call them “snack shoppers”: they like to take things at their own pace and research across all devices, smartphones, tabs and desktop, at any time they find convenient, even in front of the TV. So, iteratively, all the data tells us to focus on the journey of the consumer, to be there for the consumer at every turn, to be helpful, to be present, to be authentic, but, most of all, to be there. And by there I mean omnipresent.

It’s a common misunderstanding and myth that, if searchers find something online that they want to purchase, they will inevitably want an online store to do so. Yet local search-data tells us a different story — local online information may motivate instore visits. So et’s look at what the data says about the information the consumer finds helpful in making a purchasing decision.

Three out of four searchers who find local information results are more likely to visit the actual store

  • 42% of instore shoppers search for information instore
  • 64% of those use search engines
  • 75% would like the price of the item at a local store
  • 74% would like to know what’s in stock at a local store
  • 66% would like the location of the nearest store with said item
  • 63% would like details about the store, such as hours of operation and phone number
  • 59% would like a map showing the stores that hold said item
  • 56% would like to know what else is available at the store that carries the said item

The slammer

Here’s the slammer: ALL research for a consumer begins with a search engine vs an app or a mobile site. Immediacy and proximity are very important as 69% of searchers expect the store/product/business to be located within 8–10km of them, and more than 50% want instant gratification and to purchase within the hour (a micro moment showing its head again). Mobile influences the consumer’s purchase decision, as data shows that 93% goes on to buy!

The new consumer is so spoilt for choice — the new tech has delivered so many new opportunities — but this surplus also means that there are implications to the new mind-set, according to a study done by Google, TNS and Ogilvy: these consumers shop with the same purpose that they consume content. Bringing us back to the user’s intent. Purpose equals purchase; they want sustainability, media that virtually match the purpose they lead their lives with, and this perspective in turn helps consumers fulfil their interests, needs, wants and desires.

This study also reveals that 42% of the “new consumers” chooses brands that actively engage with them on their passions and interests, vs those which do not.

Learnings are simple

Humbly, we say goodbye to the feel-good tactics that brands used to use in the past, whose love affair with TV was scheduled around the seasonal happenings, split by the time of the day and totally dependent upon broadcast media.

The learnings here are simple: digital is a powerful metric of connection for the brand/store and the consumer, and retailers should use an online presence amplified by solid SEO and tools —mobile CRM, mobile apps, mobile ads, video, search data, geo targeting, and local ad inventory — to best position themselves for the dawn of generation C and the millennial age.


  • Digital Impact on In-Store Shopping study, commissioned from Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands by Google
  • Google Search Data
  • Google/Ipsos MediaCT, YouTube Audience Study
  • ZEFR data, 2014

Dee StephensDee Stephens (@ClickAss_SEO) is a dedicated individual, an analyst at heart, data junkie, accomplished content marketer, SEO professional, SMO expert, and digital media award winner. Having worked with international and local brands such as Unilever, MSN, Times Media Group, Kagiso Media and BidorBuy, she has learned that “the volume of traffic to your page matters far less than how qualified that audience and traffic is”.

“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.

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One reply on “Motive: How mobile and search change retail marketing”

  1. >The instore shop assistant is the smartphone

    I never really thought about it before but… you’re right! If only they could make it so we could look up where things in the store are through the website. I’m always wandering around looking for things and can’t find them because they got rid of all the in store assistants because cellphones rendered them unnecessary! Bah!

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