The balance between merchants and brands is being shifted by the increasingly common use of enhanced “product locators,” which adds store locations, maps — and frequently promotions such as coupons — to the mix, says Lauren Freedman, president of The E-Tailing Group in Chicago.
Freedman has just completed a round of shopper behavior research for Krillion. The results, not surprisingly, reinforce Krillion’s mission of providing brand information, and now actual store inventory, to local shoppers.
The research’s key finding is that shoppers want to “see everything” and will look at multiple sources on the Web to find it, says Freedman. They especially want to shop online and pick it up at the store. She finds that merchants benefit from store pickup because consumers invariably add more to their shopping cart once they’re inside the location. On average, for instance, Circuit City brings in an extra $154 from such “cross-channel” shoppers.
Cross-channel shopping is increasingly being enabled by big-box stores, she adds. Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Sears, RadioShack, CompUSA each launched in the past six months. Increasingly, it is also having an impact on Main Street stores as well. Fifteen of 75 retailers surveyed, or 20 percent, now have a product locator on their site. A similar number had store pickup. “It is growing really fast. No one had it 18 months ago,” she says.
Freedman’s research also found that ratings and reviews are increasingly important, especially as the “local component” of the shopping experience. Generally speaking, women have especially seized on reviews, while men are more tied to the search engines.
“What people really want to know is the service element,” says Freedman. Besides price and inventory, “it is the only differential” at the local retail level.