Reminder: It’s Still about the Store

Amid comScore headlines such as: comScore Reports $29.1 Billion in U.S. Retail E-Commerce Spending for Full November-December Holiday Season, Up 4 Percent vs. Year Ago it’s easy to lose site of what the Internet remains mostly about: Online influencing Offline.

E-Commerce is still less than 5% of US retail and I found this gem from Yahoo! research in an article about the company hiring social scientists:

The research, conducted in partnership with an undisclosed national retailer, sought to accurately measure the impact of Internet display advertising across online and offline sales, by tracking people who had registered with both Yahoo and the store. The research found an approximately 5 percent increase in spending among those who had seen the ads – with 93 percent of those sales occurring in stores.

(Emphasis added.)

This is 93% of people exposed to online advertising . . . bought in local stores.

For whatever reason most people still can’t get their heads wrapped around this idea: people do research online (or now on their handsets) and then buy products in stores. Yes, e-commerce is big and growing but it’s never going to eclipse or even come remotely close (in our lives at least) to product purchases that happen in the world.

Hopefully we’re entering a time where marketers will come to see this much more clearly and adjust their campaigns and marketing practices to account for and align with this consumer behavior accordingly.

Current ways to track online-to-offline sales include:

  • Coupons
  • Loyalty cards
  • Consumer surveys
  • Call tracking (not everyone makes calls before going into stores however)
  • Sales volume tracking in association with particular campaigns and geographies

What have I left out?

Mike Stewart points out another likely tracking scenario: “Check Ins and Mobile Barcode/Door scanners.” Me: Imagine FourSquare/Gowalla applied to retailers . . .

5 Responses to “Reminder: It’s Still about the Store”

  1. Mike Stewart Says:

    Often we lose sight of the intent of our message. Great post Greg. This morning I spent an hour viewing an informative “landing page” optimization course.

    I have a feeling that mobile will make a huge impact in tracking offline conversions.

    Example: Check Ins and Mobile Barcode/Door scanners.

    Retailers giving you credit for visits to the store? Scan the barcode to “check-in” and be rewarded with a discount or offer…. etc..

    The ideas around mobile online marketing are limitless!

    Mike Stewart

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Agree completely Mike.

  3. Wayne Reuvers Says:

    You hit the nail on the head:
    2008 Total US Retail Sales = $4,105bn
    2008 Online US Retail Sales = $133bn … 3.3% of total sales.

    Retail sales is around 28% of US GDP

    And even outside retail, the consumers biggest expenditures are SUBSTANTIALLY researched online, but always purchased offline:

    And finally, the entertainment, business and personal services expenditure (restaurants, movies, gyms, tax prep, accounting, etc.) are more than ever being researched online, yet purchased offline.


  4. Greg Sterling Says:

    Hi Wayne . . . hope all is well. Thanks very much

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