As retail continues to blur the lines between ecommerce and brick-and-mortar shopping, mastering Local Inventory Ads (LIAs) has become an essential strategy for brands' omnichannel success. This past holiday season, Adlucent leveraged our expertise of LIAs to demonstrate exceptional client results by experimenting with merchant-hosted campaigns that drove online sales without detracting from store visits.
In 2019, 99% of US consumers included visiting a physical store as part of their holiday shopping plans, with 75% intending to go to at least three brick-and-mortar locations. Even in a digitally-driven shopping world, integrating retail locations into your digital marketing approach remains invaluable. Consumers want a convenient experience, and LIAs help them keep every option right at their fingertips.
What are Local Inventory Ads?
LIAs are ads that direct online shoppers searching on Google to local products and their corresponding nearby physical retail stores. In other words, Local Inventory Ads help retailers showcase their local brick-and-mortar inventory to online customers in close proximity.
There are different types of LIAs with various features, including "store pickup" and "ship to store." Additionally, popular LIA types include "Google-hosted Local Storefront" and "Merchant-hosted Local Storefront." The Google chart below explains the "store-pick up" feature, also known as "buy-online-and-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS)" with both the Google-hosted Local Storefront and the Merchant-hosted Local Storefront packages.
Why Are LIAs Beneficial to Retailers and Multichannel Consumers?
Increasingly, consumer shopping patterns are multi-dimensional, and most purchases still happen in-store.
"Physical stores account for roughly 90% of all retail sales (at least in North America)." –Forbes
Yet, many in-store purchases begin online, and more and more frequently from mobile devices while shoppers are on the go.
"81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before buying. The overwhelming majority of retail consumers start their journey with online research." –GE Capital Retail Bank
After having already researched an item, many shoppers open the browser on their mobile devices to find out where to buy the product in-person. Consumers who browse and investigate online to find the best deals and then get them in-store forego the wait time and any costs associated with shipping. And, since the retailer drives traffic to their physical store, it succeeds by keeping the customer – a win-win scenario. LIAs are an excellent way to target these types of consumers, as they show online shoppers what items are in-stock, nearby, and available for immediate pickup.
"Mobile online research and shopping is surpassing desktop shopping and is more beneficial...By 2021, mobile is predicted to dominate online sales, driving 54% (or $659 billion) in sales." –Big Commerce
One of the most beneficial types of LIAs is the Merchant-hosted Local Storefront ad Adlucent leveraged for clients over the crucial Cyber 5 holiday shopping days. Notably, when retailers use the full Merchant-hosted Local Storefront package, they can direct shoppers directly to their website product landing page. As a result, brands benefit from better control of consumer information, allowing them to track and monetize the shopping behaviors of their customers, much of which is happening on mobile.
This holiday season, one Adlucent client saw mobile shopping continue to grow and become the most significant volume driver across the board, accounting for 78% of clicks and 61% of total orders during the key shopping days. The mobile activity represented an increase of 79% over last year's click volume and resulted in a 93% growth in orders.
Holiday Local Inventory Ad Success for Adlucent Clients
Utilizing LIAs, specifically, Merchant-hosted Local Storefront ads, during the holiday season, resulted in a meaningful difference in sales during this crucial period for several Adlucent clients, in particular.
Simple changes in the LIA strategy helped one Adlucent client increase revenue at higher efficiency. With a few adjustments to its ecommerce approach, including the Adlucent team changing to a Merchant Hosted Local Storefront LIA, in mid-October 2019 before the holiday season, the client achieved higher-than-expected volume for buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS).
They credited their overall 2019 holiday success to LIAs, which accounted for 33% of online revenue. Their success illustrates the utility of LIAs for bridging the gap between ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retail. LIAs over the holiday season also resulted in a 28% lower cost per click (CPC), making every ad dollar go further.
The Merchant-hosted Local Storefront ads ultimately directed customers to a physical store for products versus providing a completely online shopping experience. In this case, shoppers visited the client's ecommerce site, which shared local pickup info.
Had the client used Google-hosted LIAs, the potential customers would have seen the in-store pickup location on Google Maps instead. Using Merchant-hosted, shoppers could pick up the product on the same day and at a convenient store location with an online experience fully controlled by the client. The shift in strategy led to an increase in ecommerce sales without a negative effect on brick-and-mortar sales.
Used strategically, Local Inventory Ads are useful tools for furthering both online and physical retail. The Adlucent team of experts is here to help your brand integrate LIAs into your digital marketing strategy. Contact us today to see how we can help you succeed in 2020.