co Where Product Purchases Begin |

Did you know 97% of all local product purchases begin online? That’s right. When customers walk into your store to purchase an article of clothing, a pair of shoes, a new door for their bathroom, a lawn mower, a book, or whatever, there’s a better than even chance that they’ve already researched that product online. They don’t have to be sold. They’re already sold.

Why is that important? It’s important because, ideally, you want those customers to find you when they conduct their online search. Why? Because if you provide them the necessary information about products on your website, then they will likely buy from you.

There is also a certain percentage of customers who will buy a product directly from your website once they finish their research. In some of those cases, the customer will pick up the product from your store. In others, you can ship directly to them.

What do you think happens when a customer orders a product from your website and picks it up from the store? In many cases, they buy something else.

See what’s going on? You are touching the customer in multiple ways. First, you are interacting with them on your website. Then you interact with them again when they pick up their product. And you interact a third time when they make another purchase. That’s why search engine optimization and social media marketing are so important to local businesses.

Your Website Is More Than a Sales Tool

Since people research products online and buy them locally in bricks and mortar stores, you should start thinking about your website as more than a place where people buy products. It’s more than that. It’s an information resource. That’s why things like product reviews, product demonstration videos, and customer service forums make great additions to local business websites. They provide a useful service to the customer while allowing them to research product information in a nonthreatening way.

Amazon has gotten really good at retaining customers. And they don’t have local brick-and-mortar stores (yet).

The best way to turn a Web browser into a customer is to be the place they go when they want real product information. Beef up your product descriptions, provide lots of images and videos of products in your store, and use your website as a customer service tool. When you make the customer feel at ease on your website, they’ll feel at ease buying from you–the website and your store.