Sep 21, 2011
Make Your Presence Known

When writing features for this magazine, I enjoy adding in the experiences and expertise of retailers. Feedback tells us that you like hearing what your peers are doing, and it only makes sense that the best tips would come from those who are in the stores every day.

However, I know retailers are busy, and it’s rare that my requests for communication via email, phone, Facebook and Twitter are actually answered. So what do I do? I head online and start doing some searches. What do I find?

Internet retailers, with the first brick-and-mortar store not appearing until the fourth or fifth page of search results.

While Internet retailers serve as a convenient resource for shoppers, they don’t help someone looking for brick-and-mortar stores to contact, and they don’t help the stores themselves (or editors looking to feature these stores.) It’s frustrating, to say the least.

But the good news is that according to a new study from E-tailing Group, a consulting firm that specializes in e-commerce, consumers find better information about products in a physical store than they do from an online shop.

The study compared the experience of finding product information at multi-channel retailers’ bricks-and-mortar locations vs. their online shops. Physical stores scored a 3.98 out of 5 across the 50 items evaluated, while online stores averaged 3.05.

Mystery shoppers concluded that the in-store experience is still far more robust than what one finds comparably online when stellar store associates are part of the equation. Specifically, in-store associates were found to be knowledgeable and their sales knowledge ranked 4.18 out of 5.

That’s good news, but to get them into the store, you have to make the most of your Internet presence. The study also found that while store locators now appear on many retailers’ sites, many don’t provide all the basic information consumers need to make a store visit, such as hours, directions and maps.

The moral of the story?

In order to be at the top of anyone’s list, you have to make the most of your Internet presence. Facebook and Twitter are free, and your website is an invaluable resource. And while you’re at it? Drop a note or two to a certain magazine editor. She’ll be most grateful.

Until next time,

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