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

Sara Scurfield / November 2018

Despite what you’ve heard, brick-and-mortar isn’t dead. In fact, 69% of Canadian 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 — 86% of Canadian shoppers said they will go to the store to buy when that store has 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: 65% of Canadian holiday shoppers who visited a store turned to online search before going in-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%), and “makeup brands” (+150%).4 They’re also looking for helpful recommendations on what to buy — in Canada, searches for reviews on mobile have increased by more than 120% over the past two years.5


Help plan my in-store trip

Research tells us that one in three Canadian holiday shoppers who used search before shopping looked for details about the store itself, such as locations or proximity.3 And "near me" searches in Canada continue to grow — compared to 2015, "near me" searches grew over 700%.5 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, 43% of Canadian shoppers wish retailers would do a better job of sharing inventory information.6

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 42% of those who used their phone in store over the holidays to shop said they did so to look for deals or savings, and 21% said they turned to their phones to read email offers.7 On top of that, 42% of Canadian shoppers said they think getting deals on their smartphone while in-store is a trend that is both cool and something they’d use.1

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.

Headshot of Sara Scurfield

Sara Scurfield

E-commerce Marketing Lead Google Canada

Sources (7)

1 Google/Ipsos, “Shopping Tracker,” April–June 2018, Canada, Online survey, n=2,735 adults 18+ who shopped in the past two days. Response based on top 3 box on a 7 point scale.

2 Google/Ipsos, “Shopping Tracker”, Oct.–Dec. 2017, Canada, Online survey, n=3,618 online Canadians 13+ who shopped in the past two days.

3 Google/Ipsos, “Omnichannel Holiday Study,” Nov. 2017–Jan. 2018, Canada, n=543 holiday shoppers who visited a store in the past 48 hours.

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

5 Google Data, Canada, July–Dec. 2015 vs. July–Dec. 2017.

6 Google/Ipsos, “Omnichannel Holiday Study,” Nov. 2017–Jan. 2018, Canada, n=2,711 holiday shoppers 18+ who shopped in previous 48 hours.

7 Google/Ipsos, "Omnichannel Holiday Study," Nov. 2017–Jan. 2018, Canada, n=750 holiday shoppers 18+ who shopped and used their phone in store.

Holiday shoppers are begging brands for help. Are you listening?