Seventy-five percent of the UK shoppers polled in a study last week said they have already used a ‘near me’ search from their mobile device over the holiday season, or believe they will before the New Year.
The poll of 1000 smartphone users – half in the UK and half in the US – on 11 December was carried out by location marketing company Uberall and found that these local searches were even more prevalent in the US where 83% of shoppers indicated they have already searched – or intend to search – ‘near me’ this holiday period.
“Christmas shoppers are searching for stores and items ‘on the fly’, using their smartphones to research options in their immediate vicinity,” says Daniel Mathew, vice president, UK at Uberall. “The popularity of ‘near me’ searches amongst British shoppers presents a fantastic opportunity for brands to entice more customers. If retailers can ensure their branches show up in these local searches, they can attract more shoppers to their doors and take more money through their tills during this crucial holiday season.”
Almost two-thirds (66%) of the UK respondents said they were also likely to conduct a ‘near me’ search for local fast-food outlets and restaurants while out Christmas shopping. In the US the figure was even higher, at 77%.
When asked how likely a shopper was to conduct a ‘near me’ search for the nearest bank or cash machine/ATM while shopping this holiday period, 46% of UK shoppers said they would (54% in the US).
“Christmas shopping has a ripple effect on other local businesses, particularly restaurants and banks,” says Mathew. “These businesses can also benefit from the proliferation of ‘near me’ searches. Much like with retailers, if they can make sure their details appear at or close to the top of local search results, they can drum up extra custom.”
The news comes as a separate survey by digital marketing agency, MarketingSignals.com finds that more than 1 in 3 (39%) business leaders are unsure as to whether their company website is optimised for local SEO. Virtually 1 in 3 (32%) said their website wasn’t fully optimised for mobile devices with 29% saying they had not specifically optimised their site’s content for local search queries.
All together this is costing many high street retailers dear – and getting it right offers an opportunity to drive shoppers in store.
When UK shoppers were asked how they would use their smartphones to help them shop during this Christmas, 82% said they would buy an item directly via their mobile device, while 80% would use their phone to compare prices. Three quarters (74%) would research products on their phone and 71% would use their device to check opening times. Nearly half (48%) would use their phone to search for coupons, offers and deals.
“The UK public’s love affair with their mobile phones seems to get stronger every year,” said Mathew. “Whether it’s finding stores, buying gifts, comparing prices or sniffing out bargains, it all happens over mobile. Physical stores that nail their mobile strategies will be best placed to attract customers this holiday season and well into the future.”
While UK consumers are keen to use their phones to look for information and inspiration, they are not as enthusiastic about leaving reviews that could be useful for their fellow shoppers.
The study found that slightly over a quarter (26%) of UK shoppers have left a review of a shop across sites such as Yelp, Facebook, Google, Foursquare, Instagram and others. US consumers are slightly more likely to share their opinions online, with 30 percent stating they had left a review.
“These low engagement figures could be a slight cause for concern for the UK high street,” continues Mathew. “Online reviews have a major influence on prospective customers; indeed, Moz estimates that 68 percent of customers admit that reviews make a difference to their purchasing decisions. Brands need to find ways to encourage their existing customers to share their experience online. Rather than leaving this to chance, this should be formalised in their overall marketing strategies.”