In a recent post to its Google Retail Advertising Blog, Google provided a handful of tips of retailers, based on five notions that are driving today's state of retail, the way the company sees it.
Google offers three tips:
1. Align your business around a single customer across many channels rather than a channel by channel experience.
2. Build exceptional connected experiences across devices that let every unique individual know your brand understands what interests them at that right moment.
3. Ensure that your brand can deliver what a customer is looking for regardless of the device, location or time.
Ok, now for a little context. According to Google, online retail sales represent only 9% of all retail sales, and are predicted to represent 11% in the U.S. by 2014 (they are up from 8% in 2009, based on data from Forrester Research).
"Consumers make purchase decisions based on brands and experiences," says Google's retail team. "For consumers, a website is the portal to the brand. How (device) and where (location) the brand is accessed is a matter of specific need for information at a unique stage in the purchase cycle. The challenge for all retailers is that expectations for a seamless transition throughout the funnel are high and rising. Persistence of experience delights the customer."
So the five notions that Google lays out, are as follows:
- Necessity is the mother of all invention: Downward pressure on the economy increases the desire to save money and make the right purchase decision. Shopping related queriesare up 25% y/y this month and deal related queries are predicted to reach a 195% growth rate this December compared to last year. In order to do find the best value and make the right purchase, consumers spend more time investigating how to find the best value.
- Moore's Law in every pocket: Today, gateways (smartphones, tablets, laptops, kiosks, etc.) to real time information are cheap, more powerful and portable than ever before. Forty-four percent of top retailers show product availability online and at store locations. Retailers are beginning to make it easier for consumers to find what they need where and when they need it.
- Reducing friction increases adoption: Internet connected shopping tools are simpler and easier to use than they have ever been. For example, 28% of top 25 retailers feature buy via mobile/pickup in-store.
- Transparency increases opportunity: In addition, pricing and inventory availability have reached near 100% transparency for non-perishable goods.
- Integration enhances the value of convenience over immediacy: Consumers are now empowered to research, price, locate and transact any good/service nearly anywhere in the world within minutes and have it delivered to a doorstep in 2 days. All this, while Americans have less leisure time than they've ever had. Click and deliver often sounds better than park and wait in line.
Google is of course pushing its +1 button for online retailers. The company recently announced a couple of partnerships with social commerce platforms Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews.