Is ROBO – an acronym for “research online, buy offline” – a behavior that drives sales?
In my defense of digital advertising, I mentioned the “Web-Influenced Retail Sales Forecast” from Forrester research. The report claims the web accounted for or influenced 42% of all retail sales in 2009.
This point is further backed up by a study I came across today, this time from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Their report claims:
- 58% of adults have done online research about products or services they buy.
- 24% of adults have posted comments or reviews online about the things they buy.
- On a typical day, 21% of adults search for product information online. This is an increase from 15% in 2007 and 9% in 2004.
- Among internet users, 78% say that they at least occasionally conduct product research and 32% report that they have posted online product comments.
There are a number of other interesting points from the study.
What can retail strategists take away from these findings?
It’s more important than ever for retailers of all stripes to focus energy on their online presence. E-commerce occasionally gets a reputation for being the domain of price sensitive shoppers. I’m not convinced this is true, but even if it were, it behooves any kind of retailer to be aware of the other people using the web to learn about their products.
Put up your online store, submit feeds to the comparison shopping engines, and so on…
But don’t forget to use the web as a communication channel. In many cases, your website (or more accurately, a search engine) is the very first impression you’ll make on the customer that eventually walks in the door of your brick & mortar store.
21% of the time, the customer whose hand you’re shaking researched your product online yesterday.