Last year’s holiday season was very different. On the back of the pandemic, everyday things such as researching products, gift buying and family meetups went online. Where holiday retail is usually a boon for retailers, many stores were closed or only partially open.
As reopening continues, shoppers are keen to support local businesses over the holidays, while still keeping safe and using the digital channels they’ve grown accustomed to.
This is an opportunity for retailers, especially as global retail sales are expected to grow by seven percent in 2021*.
For brick-and-mortar retailers, going digital may be synonymous with doubling down on e-commerce. While e-commerce can be great for many retailers, it isn’t a fit for all and sometimes there can be a simpler solution.
Plus, many consumers still value in-store, so creating an experience that links online and off can be beneficial. A Retail Dive consumer survey revealed that the majority of American consumers want the tactile experience offered by physical stores. Customer service also has the benefit of face-to-face interaction which speaks for itself when a shopper is trying to find a gift for a loved one in the last-minute rush of the holidays.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s a case of either or for brick-and-mortar retailers. In fact, Google data shows that searches for “who has” together with “in stock” have grown by 8,000 percent year over year**, while searches for “along my route” are up 1,000 percent.***
And while it’s easy to get lost in the numbers, it’s important to remember that there is a consumer on the other side of these searches who is actively looking for a product.
Google offers several tools to help retailers get ready to show up online and off for holiday shoppers.
Every day, people are searching for your business on Google. Stand out and connect with customers with a free Business Profile on Google Search and Maps. Show who you are with photos, special offers, and posts. Help customers get more done with the information they need, like hours, contact info, and safety measures.
Connect with them through messaging, phone calls, or reply to reviews. And offer more ways to help with online bookings, quotes, and orders. It’s never been easier to turn searchers into customers with a free Business Profile on Google Search and Maps.
Go to google.com/business to get started.
Pointy from Google helps local retailers to bring more shoppers in-store by showing them what you sell on your Business Profile. Your products can also potentially show up in relevant Google searches.
Retailers connect to Pointy (a free app is available for Clover POS users) and, as you scan your products, they’re added to Google. This way, shoppers can potentially find your store or products in relevant searches online on Google Search and Maps.
They’ll also be able to see photos of your products, stock availability, contact details and opening hours for your store.
For Jon Henry General Store, a Pointy retailer based out of Virginia, the key to success has always been keeping it local. The store focuses on sourcing local and regional treats and gifts, with an emphasis on educational children’s toys. There’s also a large silly sock collection, said to be unrivaled in Virginia.
These are all obvious products for the holiday season. For store owner, Jon Henry, the key is in getting his products online and early.
“Since upgrading to Clover and getting Pointy,” he says, “we’ve been more than surprised at the results. We have really focused on taking our inventory seriously to ensure folks can find our products online. We might know they’re in-store but it becomes so important that others do too.”
Alongside listing his inventory, Jon also gleans useful information from Pointy’s simple dashboard. Jon has used it to make product-buying decisions. “We review our dashboard weekly to ensure that we’re stocking what folks are searching for. We kept getting hits for “USA map” that was triggering our toys and puzzles but folks really wanted paper maps to help with travel. So now we carry paper maps, which sell amazingly.”
As Jon puts it, “The folks online tell their non-online friends about us too.”
Pointy allows retailers an easy way to use Google’s local inventory ads too. Retailers can target ads to nearby local people who are searching for products you stock. With Pointy, retailers can run these ads by uploading their prices, and then setting a budget and location.
This can be a great way to reach more shoppers into the holiday season, especially for last-minute shoppers who need to quickly find gifts or products.
Going digital or being online can seem like a big task. But it’s important to remember one key thing. How shoppers find products is changing – and allowing for that is reasonably simple: by reaching them on the touchpoints they’re on.
Increasingly, for product discovery, that means in search results. While the pandemic accelerated digital reliance, the holiday season is likely to compound it. With tools like a Business Profile and Pointy, retailers can get ready now to catch the attention of last-minute gift-buyers and “near me” searchers who want convenience this holiday season.
After all, if a shopper doesn’t know your general store has a wall of silly socks, telling them when they’re searching for “silly socks near me” seems like a strong first port of call.
Pointy is free for Clover users. Sign up now!
**Think with Google, “3 ways to be ready for last-minute holiday shoppers
***Think with Google, “How the pandemic changed shopping behaviors”
United States (English)