Online Presence Vital For Offline Retail

    July 23, 2008

The Internet plays an increasingly essential role in retail for brick and mortar retailers, even for purchases made in-store according to a new survey from Nielsen Online.

People who had recently made consumer electronics purchases in a brick and mortar store, 80 percent bought from a store whose Web site they visited first. In addition 53 percent purchased from a retailer on whose Web site they had spent the most time.

The benefits of online sales is not a new concept to retailers, but the ability of the Internet to drive offline sales is increasing. Among consumer electronics purchases, 58 percent said if they had only one channel to do product research before making a purchase, they would choose the Internet, compared with only 25 percent that would choose to do research in a brick and mortar store.

Even in product categories that require less research before purchase, the Internet plays an important part in gathering information.  The survey found 44 percent of pet food buyers went online to find out more about the product. Safety was the main concern for these consumers, who were most interested in nutritional information, product ingredients and recall information.

"A strong Web presence with broad and deep online content is critical for all retailers, including brick and mortar stores," said Ken Cassar, vice president, industry insights, Nielsen Online.

"Surprisingly enough, the industry that retailers should look to for guidance on multi-channel integration is the media industry, which has embraced the notion of content portability, allowing their consumers to easily consume content wherever they are with whatever device they prefer."