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How to Be a Positive Influence (Online)

Just how important is the Internet to purchase decisions? Well, according to new research from Nielsen, searching the Web is more influential than TV ads or expert/word-of-mouth advice.

A new report, “The Nielsen Global Survey of New Product Purchase Sentiment,” concludes that “the influence of the Internet on new product purchase decisions is significant across all regions and across a wide variety of product categories. … ”

The top product categories where purchases are influenced most by the Internet include electronics (81%), appliances (77%), books (70%), and music (69%).

Additionally, the report notes that “people were also influenced via the Internet through brand or manufacturer webpages” 55% of the time. This is yet another sign that shoppers know what they want, and they go straight to the source to get it, which is great news for brands.

But this is not a surprise. We all search on the Internet when buying a new fridge, right?

Here’s the kicker: While this is another in a long line of research reports that confirm the Internet as one of the main influences for shoppers, reports also show that shoppers still want the tried and true in-store experience. (A recent Cisco report quotes this as: “65 percent of shoppers research online and purchase in store.”)

At first glance, it might seem like these are incompatible trends … that shoppers want to research online, but they still like getting products in stores.

This doesn’t make sense … or does it?

According to Dick Cantwell, Vice President and Global Lead of Retail for Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group, today’s shoppers expect a mash-up of online and in-store shopping.

“To shift shoppers into buyers,” Cantwell writes, “retailers need to merge online and physical services to meet the demands of today's digital shoppers.”

There are several methods to help capture these new, empowered shoppers. For example, Cisco found that 56% of shoppers said product ratings and reviews would inspire them to purchase new items. 71% of shoppers also said they want access to digital content while in stores, with one in three using mobile searches to guide in-store purchasing decision. And 53% said they are interested in automated pickup programs.

This makes sense, right?

First, you hook the shopper on your website, or in the store, by reassuring them with product reviews and other product details. Then go one step further, and allow them to physically touch the product, or even talk to an in-store employee who can answer questions and perhaps point out a few useful accessories. Then, whether you close the sale in the store while accessing online resources, or close the sale online while tapping into in-store resources for fulfillment, the sale is made

This is the power of Shopatron's omni-channel capabilities in action. Online and offline channels, or branded manufacturers and local retail shops, working together to give the customer what he wants — research anywhere, buy anywhere, pick up anywhere, and return anywhere.

This cross-channel experience is a key to winning the consumer’s retail dollar these days. Mobile data access and in-store pickup are the panacea for disjointed online and brick-and-mortar experiences. They unite a manufacturer’s website with the local retail shop, or merge a multi-channel retailer’s website with its retail locations, providing inventory availability, detailed product information, or the choice for ship-to-home or ship-to-store. And, as it turns out, it is a great way to increase sales and conversion rates.

Shopatron helps brands captures sales that might otherwise have been lost, and it helps send new customers directly into local retail shops, where 35%–75% of them, depending on who you ask, buy additional items during the pickup visit to the store. And best of all, this works whether you’re a brand, a small retailer, or a large multi-channel retailer.

There is no better way to harness the power of the Internet to serve today’s empowered shopper.

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