This isn’t exactly news anymore, but it’s worth noting that two more reports this week confirm the idea that consumers tend to do their research online prior to buying offline/locally.
The first is a Kelsey Group study that indicates 97% of consumers use the Internet to research products or services in their local area. What specific online research tools do they use?
- 90% use search engines
- 48% use Internet Yellow Pages
- 42% use comparison shopping sites
- 24% use vertical sites
If consumers are starting the local buying process online, this reinforces the value of great local content, local SEO, and local visibility in general. In fact, according to the study, consumers use 7.9 different media sources for research when looking for local products and services. That speaks to the importance of being visible on a number of channels — your own site, your blog, Google Maps, Citysearch, important industry sites, and so forth. Diversity of presence makes a big difference.
The second report comes from local product search engine Milo.com in the form of a large infographic that breaks down the percent of online vs. offline buying in a number of industries. The conclusion, based on US Census data, is that less than 5% of retail sales happen online.