Throughout most of the year, brick-and-mortar retailers reign supreme, capturing about 90% of total sales made in the United States. However, as the holidays roll around, all bets are off. Online super giant, Amazon, continues to grow its authority in the market with Prime memberships now topping over 90 million and consumer surveys predict that shoppers are expected to attribute 51% of their holiday spending to online retailers - which would make it the first time ever to surpass in-store spending.
With holiday spending as a whole expected to rise to over $1 trillion this year, how can a local SEO strategy help brick-and-mortar businesses to compete with Amazon and other online retailers to capture more of the customer's dollar?
Setting The Stage: Online vs In-Store
Delving into this years predictions, as well as past outcomes for two of the biggest days for holiday shopping, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we are able to gain a deeper insight into where consumers preferences lie and how they’ve changed for the coming season.
Last year, online sales accounted for just around 15%, or $100 billion, of total retail sales in the United States - that’s a long way from this years prediction of 51%. While consumers say they are likely to spend more than half of their holiday budget online, estimates hold online eCommerce sales for the holiday season closer to around 12-15% of total sales.
This year, Cyber Monday has gained popularity with 56% of shoppers expecting to participate in the online shopping festivities, up from just 39% in 2016. While Black Friday shopping remains relatively stable, hovering around 52% of shoppers who plan to hit the stores the day after Thanksgiving.
All is not lost for brick-and-mortar retailers. Shoppers are still committed to the in-store experience. At least half of shoppers surveyed said that they are willing to wake up early on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday to snag a good deal that is available in-store, and 17% said they would even miss Thanksgiving for a good in-store deal. Additionally, 48% said they are happy to shop in-store in general, based on the deals that they find.
Despite the growth and swelling excitement around online shopping, spending is expected to increase by 47% from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, leaving plenty of room for brick-and-mortar retailers to profit this holiday season.
Local SEO Strategies for Competing with Online Retailers this Holiday Season
1. Omnichannel and Multiple Touch Points:
81% of shoppers will use up to six channels to find the best holiday deals. These include areas like search engines, social channels, word-of-mouth and the mobile web. Multi-Channel shopping opportunities and seamless omnichannel experiences will drive sales this holiday season.
What is important for brick-and-mortar retailers specifically is to optimize the customer’s online-to-offline experience. Customers should be able to hear about your deals online, do some additional research by reading through posts and comments on your store’s Facebook page and then be able to get directions to your closest location by finding your listings on Google Maps.
That is just one of many scenarios, but allowing customers to seamlessly transition from online-to-offline, all while receiving accurate and consistent information, is going to be key to driving in-store traffic and sales over the holidays.
A few strategies to help you facilitate that online-to-offline journey include:
- Using Posts to add timely information about deals and events to your Google My Business listing,
- Sharing localized content and sales to your Facebook store pages
- Adding Check-In offers to your Yelp listings that can be used when customers visit your store
2. Deliver an Experience:
Customers are becoming more enthralled by the idea of experiences rather than material items. Not only are they spending more on socializing and entertaining this holiday season ($480 towards experiences vs. $430 towards gifts), but they are additionally interested in a satisfying shopping experience.
The ability to see, touch and feel products is what has 85% of shoppers preferring to buy in-store. While 90% say that the in-store expertise of knowledgeable employees is an added bonus and makes them more likely to buy. The whole in-person experience is something that online retailers simply can't offer and should be leveraged by physical retailers.
Here are some strategies to help you improve and deliver a better in-store experience:
- Read reviews and understand your customers’ sentiment to know exactly where and how you can enhance the customer experience
- Create in-store only promotions which gives customers the feeling of exclusivity
- Merge online and offline experiences through social media with things like photo and hashtag contests
3. Optimize for Local Search:
Back to the basics, but still extremely important. Optimizing your listings for local search is something that should be done year round, but it holds true for the holiday season. Customer's have a tendency to search for products and services rather than specific brands and companies, and this is no different during the holidays.
Optimizing your listings will earn you visibility in the local search rankings and generate foot traffic as holiday shoppers search for their favorite gift ideas.
Most important steps for holiday listing optimization
- Update your listing information - Add holiday hours and make any seasonal changes, be sure your address is correct, and your website and phone number are accurate
- Manage your reviews - reviews can be the deciding factor between a customer visiting your store or a competitor’s
- Leverage photos and videos - Rich media content like photos and videos gives people searching online a better understanding of your store and what to expect
Chatmeter offers a full suite of Local SEO and Reputation Management tools that help multi-location brands establish a local presence, improve local search rankings and drive in-store traffic. Schedule your FREE demo to see how Chatmeter can help you increase revenue this holiday season.