How mobile search is driving today’s in-store shopping experience

Todd Pollak / November 2018

Despite what you’ve heard, brick-and-mortar isn’t dead. In fact, 61% of shoppers would rather shop with brands that also have a physical location than ones that are online only.1 Because sometimes, you just need something now — right now. Nearly 80% of shoppers will go to the store to buy when they have an item they need or want immediately.2

People may still shop in stores most often, but they’re searching on their smartphones beforehand to make sure it’s worth the trip. As we were reminded during the 2017 holiday shopping season, a great deal of shopping research is coming from mobile: 78% of holiday shoppers who visited a store turned to online search before going into a store.3 What are they asking for help with before they go? Here’s what we found.

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Help inspire my purchase

Shoppers turn to search before heading to the store when they don’t have a product or brand in mind. Mobile searches for “__ brands” are rising, as in “sock brands” (+150%), “men’s watch brands” (+70%), “best purse brands” (+140%), “makeup brands” (+150%).4 They’re also looking for helpful recommendations on what to buy — searches for reviews on mobile have increased by more than 35% over the past two years.5

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Help plan my in-store trip

Research tells us that half of people who used search before shopping looked for details about the store itself, such as locations or proximity.6 Get this: in the past two years, we’ve seen over 150% growth in mobile searches for “__ near me now” (“food near me now,” “gas station near me now,” and “delivery near me open now”).7 In addition to queries for local businesses near them, people are relying on their phones to check store hours, directions, wait times, contact information, and increasingly, product availability. In fact, 40% of shoppers wish retailers would do a better job of sharing inventory information.8

Help narrow down my purchase options

Once they’ve homed in on a few options, people search on mobile to help make a final decision. They’re researching a purchase they plan to make in stores or to find the best option for their needs. We know shoppers are on the hunt for the best deals. How so? Because 43% of those who used their phone in stores over the holidays to shop said they did so to look for deals or savings,9 and 52% of shoppers think getting deals on their smartphone while in stores is a shopping trend that is both cool and something they’d use.10 Even more, 50% of shoppers say they use online video while actually shopping in stores.11

Making mobile count

With so many people relying on their smartphones before shopping in store, the need for strategic and informed product content has never been more essential. Omnichannel retail leaders must prioritize the mobile experience — it could mean the difference between customers coming into your store primed and ready to buy, or leaving frustrated and empty-handed.

Todd Pollak 1

Todd Pollak

Retail Industry Director at Google

Sources (10)

Google/Ipsos, U.S., “Shopping Tracker,” Online survey, n=2703 adults 18+ who shopped in the past two days, response based on top 3 box 7 point scale, April–June 2018.

Google/Ipsos, U.S., “Shopping Tracker,” Online survey, n=3,613 online Americans 13+ who shopped in the past two days, Oct.–Dec. 2017.

3 Google/Ipsos, U.S., Omnichannel Holiday Study, Holiday Shoppers who visited a store in the past 48 hours n=1204, Nov. 2017–Jan. 2018.

4, 5 Google Data, U.S., Jan.–June 2015 vs. Jan.–June 2017.

6 Google/Ipsos, U.S., Omnichannel Holiday Study, Holiday shoppers 18+ who shopped in previous 48 hours and visited a store n=1204, Nov. 2017–Jan. 2018.

Google Data, U.S., July–Dec. 2015 vs. July–Dec. 2017.

8 Google/Ipsos, U.S., Omnichannel Holiday Study, Holiday shoppers 18+ who shopped in previous 48 hours n=5944, Nov. 2017–Jan. 2018.

Google/Ipsos, U.S., Omnichannel Holiday Study, Holiday shoppers 18+ who shopped and used their phone in store n=2471, Nov. 2017–Jan. 2018.

10 Google/Ipsos, U.S., “Shopping Tracker”, Online survey, n=2703 adults 18+ who shopped in the past two days, April–June 2018.

11 Google/Ipsos, U.S., “How People Shop with YouTube” Study, n=2,401, 18–64 year-olds who go online at least once per month and have purchased something in the last year, July 2018.

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