The State of Retail: Everything Retailers Need to Know

The sundry options that modern shoppers have – thanks to the smartphones in the palms of their hands –  has completely disrupted the retail industry. Customers today want their clothes, cosmetics, and consumer electronics on the first page of their voice search results, and if your retail store is not found there, you are as good as invisible to them. 

After analyzing 5 major retailers across 560 locations in the United States to gauge their ability to be found and chosen by local consumers, and nearly 1,000 consumers to see what drives their retail store selection and buying choices, we’ve been able to find the three core pillars that drive purchases and patronage: Presence, Content, and Reputation. Retailers need to restrategize the way they market to the consumer, and The State of Retail 2019 is all about how focusing on these three pillars can drive your consumers to your stores without driving you up the wall. Here are some key insights from the report to get you started.

Our most telling statistics showed a heightened dependency on a mobile-based consumer. We’re finding that users are now shifting away from the desktops of yore and into smartphone adoption: 81% of consumers are using their phones to find local establishments, and increasing numbers of those are finding locations on-the-go, with 37% taking advantage of their connected car systems and 34% of them asking Alexa, Cortana, Google, or Siri for guidance. These findings make it all the more important for businesses to establish their online identities—third-party digital profiles, like our own social media profiles on platforms such as Yelp and Facebook—to ensure they are as accurate as can be, since customers are now looking for you in unlikely places and are no longer as heavily reliant on a retailer’s website.

Content Conquers All

It’s one thing to have accuracy across the NAP. It’s yet another major responsibility for brands to keep their website content current and accurate. This goes beyond the name, address, and phone number. This refers to data that brings customers in the door, which causes them to patronize your establishment over the competitor down the block who might offer similar products and services. Nine out of ten customers agree that product inventory, hours of operation, and pricing is imperative to get them to look at your brand over another’s. 

Content is even more powerful since the narrative is no longer controlled solely by the brand. Consumers are now the producers, owning and managing brand content as they publish reviews and photos across a plethora of their networks and channels. One of the large retailers we evaluated with nearly 2,500 locations across the United States, had more than 3.5x of the brand’s content being created by its customers. Brand managers have to take on the responsibility to not only create content for their brand, but keep their eyes on consumer generated photos to maintain brand safety and integrity.

Your Reputation Precedes You

Word-of-mouth reviews still play a significant role in an online visibility strategy. A solid reputation management strategy involves retailer participation within the review landscape. We found that word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family are more powerful than online star ratings, but both are important considerations when a shopper evaluates an establishment. In fact, 82% of shoppers will not choose a retailer with a rating of less than 3 stars. A 69% majority will go out of their way to travel further distances to receive a superior customer experience (of 4 stars or higher). Reviews play a role at all price points, in fact. Over one-third of customers are reading online reviews for everything, even items valued at under $5.

Retailers must provide a superior customer experience to motivate customers to review them favorably. Nearly half of shoppers do not even feel compelled to review a business unless they have had an experience at the far end (very positive or very negative) of the customer experience spectrum.

Beyond Content and Reputation

Synup’s State of Retail 2019 provides additional findings and data points across these core pillars to give brands the ammunition they need to become the forerunners in search and brand visibility and safety. You can read the full report here.

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