2020 has truly been the year of online sales. For a majority of the year, people have had little choice but to shop online as retailers were forced to close. But creeping up on online shopping is a boom in local search for products.
Consumers this year have shifted to online shopping as a result of lockdowns and retailers being forced to close. Suddenly, they were left without a choice, and this led to record Black Friday sales online, with billions spent online and huge increases in the home and garden sectors. Marketing has had to change tact for many businesses who suddenly found themselves without people coming through the doors and instead had to work to get themselves in front of people online. Whether that was through SEO, PPC or Social Media, online marketing was a key element in keeping businesses afloat in the toughest year they have probably ever experienced.
Post-Lockdown Sees Shoppers Back On High Streets
As lockdown ended and retailers opened their doors once more, the first weekend was wild as so many people hit the shops and get the tills ringing again. A welcome start from retailers who despite seeing online sales climb rapidly in the previous months were still seeing downward trends in overall revenue. This is an industry that was already struggling prior to COVID-19 meant that across the year we did see some casualties as businesses couldn’t stay afloat and went under. Heading in the latter half of the year, a sigh of weariness again came over retailers as they were forced to shut up shop for another month in an attempt to keep the virus from spreading to much once again.
Different this time was it being November, and just as shops were gearing up for the Christmas rush and Black Friday weekend, they couldn’t open. Black Friday went fully online for the first time since it hitting the UK and whilst online sales performed extremely well, performing much better than ever before, for a lot of retailers that wasn’t enough to make up the difference had they have been able to open.
Google Reveals That Local Searches Are Booming
Some incredible stats have come out of Google surveys in recent weeks, and they reveal that despite the shift to online shopping, even after retailers reopened, people are still very much looking for products locally. Some of the surveys have shown that:
- 80% of shoppers will consolidate shopping to make fewer trips than in previous years.
- Searches for “available near me” have grown globally by more than 100% since last year.
- 67% of shoppers plan to confirm online that the desired item is in stock before going to buy it.
But why? The most obvious reason is that people miss shopping in person, the hustle and bustle, finding things you weren’t looking for, getting to try things on or see them in person before making that final purchasing decision. There is something about walking away from the checkout with a bag in hand containing the thing you went out to buy, something that cannot be emulated online.
The other reason? Impatient shoppers. A group that I well and truly include myself in. For us, waiting for deliveries is the worst. It takes too long, it’s unreliable (delivery company dependant but we won’t name names), and it isn’t fun. If I’ve made that purchasing decision then I want to be able to get my hands on the item as soon as possible (and by that I mean now).
The key takeaway though is that people are still looking to shop locally, and more importantly, they want to be able to find out whether a store has something in stock BEFORE they head out. It minimises risk by ensuring the journey isn’t pointless. The available near me searches are also interesting as it leads into getting your website and product inventory set up on Google Merchant Centre so you can appear in organic shopping listings, or for those products you want to push on sales, Google Shopping Ads.
Heading into 2021, the way we shop will continue to change and consumers will adapt, but businesses should be making an effort to put themselves in front of the right audience otherwise you could be letting competitors get ahead and steal those all-important sales.