When a retailer opens a new brick-and-mortar store traffic to that retailer’s web site from those in the surrounding postal area jumps 52% on average within six weeks of the store opening, according to research published by U.K.-based commercial real estate company British Land, which used web data from Connexity Hitwise.
The research further showed that locally-generated web traffic remains at this increased level well after the store has opened, suggesting that the opening of a physical stores sustained a positive impact on digital interaction with the brand.
Smaller retail chains and brands may see an even bigger online traffic boost from their store openings, as brands with fewer than 30 stores were found to have increases in local traffic to their websites of 84% on average.
British Land has a lot to gain from any findings that strengthen the retail sector's faith in opening new brick-and-mortar stores, as the company's mission is to help retailers find the right location and space for new outlets.
However, web traffic data does not usually play favorites, and this research is pretty intriguing for retailers looking for more ways to leverage ties between physical stores and online endeavors to better position themselves for the omnichannel era. One of the implications they can take away from this research is that coordinated, integrated promotions on a local level could make a great deal of sense. If retailers open a new store in town, they're likely better off doubling down on a localized online promotion that lets the local audience know they care about their business whether it comes through the web site, via smartphones or from walking through the door.
This data analysis also builds on the results of British Land's 2016 “The True Value of Stores” report. That report considered the effect of online activity on physical retail locations and brands, surveying 30,000 shoppers, and found that a high percentage of U.K. shoppers who made purchases "touched a store," and that online-based capabilities like click-and-collect actually helped to increase physical store sales.
All of this also plays into something we have been learning about younger members of the millennial demographic, as well as Gen Z: They still like to shop in brick-and-mortar stores. Perhaps opening physical retail stores in local areas with especially high numbers of younger consumers could trigger especially big increase in local web traffic to retailer web sites, and retailers could in turn use those visits to communicate more directly with those customers online. That's just one other potential implication of this research, but one that can help retailers to better focus omnichannel strategies and promotions to deliver maximum returns.