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Brick-and-Mortar and Online Shopping Patterns More Connected Than Brands Might Think

Though e-commerce often dominates conversations about retail trends, brick-and-mortar stores have a definite influence on consumers’ online shopping patterns.

As it turns out, consumers who shop in store are strongly compelled to make purchases online from the same brands and retailers they’ve visited in person. A newly-released study from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) detailed a consumer behavior pattern called the “halo effect,” in which surveyed shoppers were found to have made an average of 1.3 subsequent online or in-store purchases within a relatively short period (15 days) of making an online or in-store purchase from the same brand.

Additionally, when a brand opens a new store, its web traffic skyrockets by an average 37 percent, driving up the share of web traffic within that market by 27 percent.

Both established retailers and newcomers stand to benefit online from opening retail stores. Of the brands ICSC surveyed for its “Halo Effect: How Bricks Impact Clicks” report, nearly one-third (32 percent) of emerging brands or retailers saw increased traffic online after opening a new store, while over a quarter (27 percent) of longstanding retailers saw a lift in web activity.

The store-to-online relationship holds true for brands from all sectors. About a quarter of all apparel brands (26 percent) reported an increase in site visits after opening a retail store, while nearly the same amount (27 percent) of non-apparel brands said the same. The vast majority (80 percent) of retailers and brands across all categories said brick-and-mortar launches drove more consumers to shop with them online.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, retail store closures can have a negative effect on web traffic. In the apparel sector, site visits decrease by an average of 9.5 percent in a given market when a brand or retailer shutters a storefront.

“We have to look at the integrated contributions and also understand the negative effects of what happens to the digital business if a retailer closes their only store in a market,” Michael Brown, partner at A.T. Kearney’s consumer products and retail practice, said of the report’s findings.

According to ICSC, there’s a clear connection between digital engagement and physical retail, and the biggest benefits come in the form of brand perception and awareness.

“Physical locations are places where brands can make genuine connections with consumers who are considerably more informed today than they were yesterday,” the firm’s analysts wrote.