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Uberall Study: Consumers Favor Local Business Over Online-Only

Trust Is Important for Consumers to Go Local, Says New Report

A new study shows that while most buying journeys for consumers today start online, they prefer to do business with brands and retailers that have a local presence and real-world locations over online-only shops.

The study, titled The Local CX Advantage, is from Uberall, a CX software company based in Berlin, Germany, which offers a cloud-based brand experience solution that converts mobile searches into sales. Surveying nearly 4,000 consumers in the US, the UK, France, and Germany, the study sought to better understand customer expectations in the post-COVID-19 era.

The survey confirms that, more than ever before, consumers are undertaking a hybrid customer journey, employing a mix of online and offline resources to arrive at buying decisions. The vast majority of consumers (96%) start their research online, regardless of where they ultimately decide to buy, data in the study show. Google is a primary consumer research tool, and nearly 70% of the respondents said that more than half of their search activity has a local intent, focusing on businesses, services, and activities in their area. Local intent as a percentage of overall search volume was even more pronounced among Millennials and Gen Z.

Moreover, 67% say they trust local businesses more than online-only companies. And an even larger percentage of consumers (88%) say it is important that they trust the businesses they deal with. Asked about their definition of “local business,” two-thirds of consumers also include the nearby locations of national chains.

Yet, with greater trust come higher expectations, the study found. Respondents said they expect the most from independent local businesses (41%), compared to national chains (38%) and e-commerce providers (20%). This reveals that local stores and national chains are held to a higher CX standard than online-only brands.

“The pandemic increased the number of people who were using the internet for e-commerce, out of necessity,” said Nick Hedges, Uberall chief strategy officer and executive vice president for North America. “But that hasn’t changed the value and importance of a local presence; having both online and offline capabilities is now critical to meet the channel-agnostic needs of consumers today.”

The pandemic appears to have boosted loyalty in some cases, with 58% of respondents saying it has made them more loyal to local businesses. On the other hand, businesses failing to satisfy customer expectations could result in 49% of consumers switching to a competitor; with 43% resorting to negative word of mouth; and 24% penning negative reviews. The lesson in this new hybrid environment for brands and retailers is that they must use both online and offline assets in an integrated way. In so doing, brick-and-mortar businesses can leverage the significant pool of trust and undeniable appeal of convenience they enjoy among consumers, as the survey indicates.

Author Information

Alex is responsible for writing about trends and changes that are impacting the customer experience market. He had served as Principal Editor at Village Intelligence, a Los Angeles-based consultancy on technology impacting healthcare and healthcare-related industries. Alex was also Associate Director for Content Management at Omdia and Informa Tech, where he produced white papers, executive summaries, market insights, blogs, and other key content assets. His areas of coverage spanned the sectors grouped under the technology vertical, including semiconductors, smart technologies, enterprise & IT, media, displays, mobile, power, healthcare, China research, industrial and IoT, automotive, and transformative technologies.

At IHS Markit, he was Managing Editor of the company’s flagship IHS Quarterly, covering aerospace & defense, economics & country risk, chemicals, oil & gas, and other IHS verticals. He was Principal Editor of analyst output at iSuppli Corp. and Managing Editor of Market Watch, a fortnightly newsletter highlighting significant analyst report findings for pitching to the media. He started his career in writing as an Editor-Reporter for The Associated Press.

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