Australian retailers looking to boost in-store foot traffic must ensure they have an effective online search strategy, with up to 82 per cent of online users who use search engines to find a product saying they will go into the store to buy it, according to new research commissioned by Outrider.
In addition, 63 per cent of people changed their mind in terms of the store they would visit as a result of the search process.
The research was prompted by US findings that showed that the current annual growth forecast for web-influenced store sales was 19 per cent, compared with a 12 per cent rate for retail e-commerce.
Global search marketing agency Outrider general manager, Marcelo Silva, says this is a wake-up call for retailers who may not traditionally pay a lot of attention to online search. 
“Web-influenced purchases in store are vital to success in the High Street, particularly when you consider 91 per cent of test participants used a search engine at some point when asked to buy.
“A successful search campaign is vital to winning both web traffic and foot traffic.”
Research conducted by Global Reviews found that retailers can win over three out of five people online who already have other existing brand preferences, if their store is well-placed in search engine results pages.
Interestingly though, a high position alone is not always enough to win consumers.
King Furniture, for example, was consistently placed number one in the search for lounges, but only nine per cent visited the site.
“The quality of the listing in this case needs to be improved to encourage more clicks,” says Silva.
Harvey Norman emerged strongly from the research as both the most popular chosen shop to visit after online research and the most popular brand name searched.
For complex products such as air conditioners, customers were driven by the product rather than a brand or shop. In such a case, customers need to know that the shop they visit sells the product they want.
“Customers were 40 per cent more likely to purchase from an offline shop when the shop’s website has confirmed that the shop stocks the desired product,” says Adam Goodvach, CEO of Global Reviews.
“This makes sense. Why would someone visit a shop if they were unsure whether they stocked the desired product?”