In the short term, having the ability to confidently tell a customer that you have the exact product in stock at a nearby brick-and-mortar store directly within a mobile ad or even on your website is going to give retailers a huge competitive advantage. However, before you know it, this level of information is going to become table stakes.
While there are a lot of obstacles that retailers need to overcome to provide accurate inventory data for their brick-and-mortar stores, it is important that they start to work through this problem.
As a case study mentioned in an article on the think with Google blog proves, this type of information will help drive traffic into stores.
And, I believe there will be many more case studies like this in the not so distant future.
Local Inventory Ads Drive Shoppers into Stores
The case study mentioned earlier shows that local inventory ads can be very effective.
As the original article on the think with Google blog states, “With over 1,200 physical stores across the country, Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores has embraced Google local inventory ads (LIAs) to bring nearby customers on mobile devices into stores. The results: a 16% higher click-through rate and a 122% higher store visit rate compared with online PLAs.”
The article also points out that Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores local inventory ads yielded return on ad spend (ROAS) higher than other offline marketing.
In fact, in the article David Buckley, CMO of Sears Hometown and Outlets stores, states, “When we compared our most recent performance of local inventory ads with offline media typically used to drive store sales, such as a recent broadcast television campaign, local inventory ads returned in-store sales at more than 5X the rate of TV advertising for each dollar spent.”
Buckley is also quoted as saying, “We’ve been closely monitoring the performance of local inventory ads and our most recent analysis points to more than $8 of in-store sales for each dollar invested.”
Giving Customers the Information They Need
“If people are searching for a product on their phones, there is nothing more targeted than serving that item with a picture, description, and price while letting the customers know exactly how far they are located from the product,” Buckley adds.
In my opinion, I think that he is understating the significance of being able to give customers the knowledge that the product that they are looking for will be found at a specific brick-and-mortar store.
In fact, I think that the knowledge that the item will be in stock could be more important than price in some cases. As the adage goes, “time is money.”
The importance of letting customers know that an item is available at a nearby store is confirmed by a finding in a report, titled “Digital Impact on In-Store Shopping: Research Debunks Common Myths October 2014.”
According to the report, “Search results are a powerful way to drive consumers to stores. Providing local information, such as item availability at a nearby store or local store hours, fills in information gaps that are keeping consumers away from stores.”
In fact, the report goes on to point out that, “1 in 4 consumers who avoid stores do so because of limited awareness of nearby stores or the risk of items not being available.”
While the report is now over a year old, it has a lot of insights that retailers could find useful.
The more information that a retailer can give customers before they make the trip to the brick-and-mortar store, the better.
As the case study on the think with Google blog points out, providing item availability information to customers who are near a particular brick-and-mortar store helps increase the effectiveness of a mobile ad.
Keep in mind that it is important to make sure that the information that retailers provide to customers is accurate, because if a customer is told that the item will be available only to find out that it is sold out when they get to the store could potentially damage the credibility and trust that the customer has in the store.
While there are obstacles that retailers need to overcome to be able to provide accurate inventory data to customers online, it is something that they should be working on.
I think that being able to provide this type of information to customers could be more important than even the think with Google article leads the reader to be believe.
And, it is only going to be more important as time goes on.
Photo credit: RubyGoes on Flickr.