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How physical stores can benefit from the surge in online shopping

Life looks and feels very different now than it did at the start of 2020. The use of technology by people and businesses leapt forward during lockdown, accelerating remote working, e-learning, e-commerce, and online social connections. People are spending more time online than ever before and are turning to Google to explore, research, and plan their purchases — both online and in the real world.

Owning physical stores is incredibly difficult right now. Yet retailers of all sizes are finding that maximizing their presence online can help them reach potential customers who do want to buy in person. Connecting offline and online retail experiences has never been more important.


Buying behaviors have changed dramatically in the last six months and many of those behavior are likely to stick. People are planning their visits to stores more carefully, leading to a spike in interest for real-time information.

People care about what’s in stock, and they want to know whether a store offers curbside pickup and when its doors open and close. Everyone needs reassurance that they’ll find what they’re looking for before they leave home.

For example, in Germany, we’ve seen search interest for “opening hours today” double compared with last year. And global searches for “in-stock” have grown more than 700% year over year.

At the same time, shopping locally has become even more important: searches containing “available near me” have more than doubled globally.

Retailers of all sizes are finding that maximizing their presence online can help them reach potential customers who do want to buy in person.

New Google research shows the pandemic has made people more flexible about whether they buy online or offline. Seventy-three percent now describe themselves as channel agnostic, compared with 65% before the global health crisis.  While the pandemic has accelerated digital adoption and online sales are growing, new research from Euromonitor found it’s expected that 78% of purchases will still be made in stores by 2024.

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