Could social networks overtake Google in driving traffic to retailer’s sites?

UK retailers witnessed the weakest quarterly growth in search volumes in the final three months of 2017, indicating the importance of driving traffic through multiple platforms.

Total retail search volumes grew just 3% across all devices in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared with the same quarter a year ago, according to the BRC-Google Retail Monitor.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said this was the weakest quarter for growth last year, but reflects the fact that shoppers are increasingly accessing retailers’ websites via social networks and e-mail marketing, rather than using search engines.

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“Indeed, over Black Friday, a number of retailers noted that their e-mail campaigns were particularly successful in attracting shoppers to their websites. This only serves to illustrate the importance for retailers of making the most of all their channels for communicating with shoppers,” she added.

The North and Yorkshire saw the highest share of UK retail searches, with 26%, with Greater London in second place with 23%.

Overseas searches for UK brands grew by 19% year-on-year in Q4, with Italy demonstrating the strongest growth (+30%) in searches for these labels from the EU.

The BRC-Google Retail Monitor also found the Black Friday shopping week overtook Boxing Day last year on Google search volumes, as consumers took more time to research deals.

Google retail director Martijn Bertisen explained: “The Black Friday period is getting longer and, instead of staying up late to research the best deals, consumers are using their phones more than ever to research deals during morning commute times on Black Friday and at store opening times on Boxing Day.”

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