One thing is certain: online search is used by nearly all internet users during the shopping process, regardless of the purchase channel. Fully 93% of all respondents to a GroupM Search and Compete survey relied on this method. Most of these shoppers also came to the process without a specific brand in mind. During the year-long study, nonbranded search terms averaged about 73% of all queries referring shoppers to retail sites.
A correlation was also found between using generic search terms and the likelihood of clicking on organic links. In-store buyers who searched using nonbranded terms clicked on organic links 2.6 times more than the average shopper.
In-store buyers are also seeking brick-and-mortar stores online. More than 5% of clicks—one of the leading activities—went to store locator pages, indicating a propensity for cross-channel shopping. Even thought it was not the leading factor in an e-tailing group and MyBuys survey of cross-channel shoppers, a store locator was still a covenience for 41% of respondents.
A more important takeway might be that nearly three-fourths of these cross-channel shoppers expected to be able to check product availablity before heading into a store. Regardless of how they ended up on a site, once there, shoppers expect a smooth path to purchase, even if it means using a real shopping cart instead of a virtual one.