A new Google mobile search feature may end up benefiting physical stores much more than ecommerce retailers. The feature seems to support a rising trend in which consumers are actually researching products online first only to later buy them at a physical location.
Google has introduced a 360-degree product view on its Google Shopping results on mobile searches. The new feature means customers can now get a more complete 360 degree view of products before traveling to the store just by searching for it on their smartphone and tablet. The company detailed the new feature recently on its Official Google Blog.
Importantly, small brick and mortar retailers can also benefit from the feature, it seems. In addition to the enhanced views on products, more detailed product information, and product reviews, Google is also starting to list local stores where consumers can purchase the product they’re researching. This allows shoppers to see a product online, do some thorough research and then find the best deal locally.
Google says its Shopping search numbers continue to increase every year and the company says it is already seeing that trend continue this year. Elaborating in greater detail on the trend in Google’s AdWords Blog, Google Shopping Product Mananger Jennifer Liu writes:
“We’ve seen a 3.5X increase in shopping searches coming from smartphones year-on-year, and this continues to grow. And we’re currently sending more mobile traffic to retailers per week from Google Shopping than we did during the peak of last holiday season. So we’re making it easier to find the information and images people need to make shopping better on mobile.”
But the development of the new mobile search feature happens to correspond with another interesting trend too. A recent study suggests more customers are shopping online only to make their final purchase at a physical store.
Dubbed “webrooming,” the new trend is a complete reversal of “showrooming,” a practice greatly concerning retailer this time last year where shoppers seemed to visit stores to learn about products only to purchase them cheaper online.
Reporting on the research by marketing and consumer experts GfK, Rieva Lesonsky sites some reasons for the new webrooming trend:
What prompts shoppers to head into a store instead of just buying online? Nearly six in 10 want to “see and feel before buying,” 53 percent want to get the products instantly and 35 percent appreciate the ease of being able to return products in-store if they aren’t satisfied.
Per the GfK data, just 28 percent of consumers said they were Showrooming this past year. That marks a sharp drop from 37 percent the year prior. On the contrary, consumers admitted in the study that they have been Webrooming. A total of 41 percent of GfK respondents said they checked out a product online then went to an physical store to make their purchase.