While we’re passionate about online marketing, the reality is that most businesses that sell online also have a bricks and mortar presence. Often, the physical store still accounts for most revenue.

If you’re in that camp, this article is for you. And it’s no accident that I’m writing it just after the silly season.

A new year means a new start- for parents with a child starting school, business owners ready for a revamp, or homeowners looking to refurbish- there is always shopping to be done. With that in mind, Google have just launched a handful of innovations designed to make it easier for shoppers to find what they want from you, and also easier for you to track shopper behaviour all the way from online into both your online and your physical store.

Let’s start with Showcase Shopping. This nifty tool lets you curate a collection of lifestyle images and products to help people browse your offerings while conducting a Google search. As you can see from the image here, if someone enters a fairly general search term – dining tables, say – the search results can include thumbnails of sponsored images. By clicking on any image they find appealing, the shopper can then look closer at the product and get more information about it.

This is powerful stuff. US store overstock.com has used it to triple its volume of brand searches and increase click-assisted conversions by just a whisker under a third.

That’s great for online shoppers, but what about those who like buying in store? Google will soon have that covered too with what they call “local inventory on the Google Assistant”. All the shopper has to do is ask Google where he can buy a product nearby, and voila! Results will pop up on their device’s screen.

How do you ensure your products appear on such results? Well, you’ll need a local product inventory feed – essentially, a product database, kept current and linked to Google Assistant. And before you know it, store traffic should start climbing.

Google is upbeat about the impact of these innovations, and probably with some justification. Its own research shows that “local and omni-channel strategies” drive an 80% higher rate of incremental store visits. What’s more, someone who clicks on a Google ad before visiting your store is more than 25% more likely to buy and, when they do, will spend an average of 10% more.

One of the great things about online marketing is its ability to help you measure and track behaviours and results. Surprisingly, Google’s also found a way to help you see how your online advertising translates into store visits, even when the store visit happens some time after the online view.

The key is collating a lot of data from users who’ve opted in to having their behaviour anonymously tracked. Google has extrapolated from those results to draw conclusions about the most likely links between online activity and later offline behaviour for all shoppers.

New or upcoming reports based on these learnings including a Time Lag Report (how long between clicking on an ad and visiting a store or taking another action), a New vs Returning Customer Report (understand how many store visits come from repeat customers and see how ads drive incremental visits), and a Demographic Report that links store visits to your existing demographic reports so you can see which groups of people are most likely to visit which stores.

These are interesting developments to say the least, and we’re not only watching with interest but also working with clients to help them use the new tools to their best advantage. If you want to know more about how this new development can drive your business forward, give us a call.