Most Holiday Shoppers Searching for Stores ‘Near Me’

Customers use their smartphones to research places to shop and are prioritizing proximity in their search.

Uberall Inc., provider of location marketing solutions, has revealed the results of its holiday ‘near me’ survey.

For the study, Uberall polled more than 1,000 smartphone users across the U.S. and UK between Dec. 7 and 11 to understand their “near me” preferences and behavior over the holiday season to date.

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Some 79% of all shoppers say they have already used a ‘near me’ search from their mobile device over the holiday season, or believe they will before the New Year. In contrast, 21% have not done this type of search so far, and don’t anticipate doing so this holiday season.

Broken down between U.S. and UK shoppers, ‘near me’ searches were more prevalent in the U.S. Over the holidays, 83% of U.S. shoppers have searched ‘near me’ while 75% did so in the UK.

“Consumers are increasingly using their smartphones to research places before they shop and are prioritizing proximity when doing so,” said Florian Huebner, Founder & Co-CEO of Uberall. “Marketers must leverage a search strategy that lures shoppers who may not be directly seeking them out and are, instead, looking for the same category near their location. Whoever shows up first in search will win the customer dollars. This rings especially true during the holiday season, with people in general doing more shopping—and spending more money—than any other time of year.”

Reviews
The study found that nearly one-third (30%) of shoppers have left a review of a brick-and-mortar store across sites—such as Yelp, Facebook, Google, Foursquare, Instagram and more—during the holiday season. Meanwhile, 71% of respondents have not.

In the U.S., leaving a review online for a store or location was more common than in the UK. Among U.S. holiday shoppers, one-third had left a review versus 26% in the UK.

“We know from our previous research that only 45% of shoppers leave online customer reviews overall,” Huebner said. “This presents an issue for brands as 68% of customers admit that customer reviews make a difference in their purchasing decision, according to Moz. “A lack of reviews can easily be correlated with lost revenue meaning that companies must start investing in strategies that encourage customers to take the time leave online reviews.”

Near Me Searches
Some 71% of respondents said they were likely to conduct a ‘near me’ search for the nearest restaurant (quick-service or fast-food) while out holiday shopping. Just 15% said they were unlikely to do a ‘near me’ search, and 14% were unsure.

When asked how likely a shopper was to conduct a ‘near me’ search for the nearest bank or ATM while holiday shopping, 51% said they were likely, while 34% were unlikely and 16% said they weren’t sure.

In the U.S., holiday shoppers were more likely to conduct a ‘near me’ search for restaurants (77%) than UK shoppers (66%). The U.S. also led on ‘near me’ searches for nearby banks or ATMs (54% versus 46%).

“During the holiday season, ‘near me’ search is huge for QSR and fast-casual brands, as well as banks and credit unions,” said Huebner. “It’s important for these areas to understand why ‘near me’ is so important. In order to acquire new customers, these places must improve their search ranking to be among the first results that location-focused consumers see.”

Comparing Prices
When asked how shoppers will use their smartphones to help them shop during the holiday season, the top five responses globally were: Compare prices (80%), buy directly from the device (79%), research products (72%), check for store hours (71%) and search for coupons and deals (65%).

“No matter how you slice it, mobile is the key to the holiday shopping season,” Huebner said. “From ‘near me’ for brick-and-mortar to comparing prices, shoppers this time of year will rely heavily on their mobile devices to make their shopping experience easier over the next couple of weeks.”