Shoppers Still Searching but Where They are Searching has Shifted.

Written by  January 23, 2009

I just read an article on Google’s 4th quarter earnings for 2008 (up 18% from the same period last year) that confirms users are still looking to the Internet for products that fit there needs. It might sound surprising to some given the current economic downturn but it is true.

In fact, as a result of these tough economic times, Google discontinued products such as Google Print Ads, mobile social network Dodgeball, micro-blogging service Jaiku, and Google Catalog Search.

However, in spite of these now defunct services, the product submit portion (Google Base gets your products included in that) of Google remains in tact, and shoppers are using it more than ever.

So it’s not so much a matter of if the consumers are still searching, it’s more a matter of where they are searching which you may be overlooking.

You see, the current economy has consumers much more price conscience than they may have been in the past and they want to make sure that the money they spend goes as far as possible.

The “spend less” mentality has consumers turning more to comparison shopping than ever before. In search of the best price they utilize shopping comparison sites like BizRate, PriceGrabber, Shopzilla, Nextag, and more.

Ultimately, the shopping behavior of consumers during this time is of most importance if you are looking toward sustaining business sales. Overlooking the search patterns of consumers during these times can leave you scratching your head and wondering “are there any shoppers even out there?”

The answer is there are. They may be fewer and they may be more price conscience, but knowing that you can take advantage of a few things to help keep your store afloat.

1) Add “Google Base” to your current Google Account if you have not already and begin to submit a product feed to them for inclusion in shopping comparison results. It’s not that difficult and Google provides nice instruction on how to build a feed and submit it. If you need help with this I am available for hire.

2) Consider “slashing” your prices during this time through the use of creative sales (which easily allows you to bring prices back up to typical areas when the time is right) and offer something that is just unheard of. As long as you are not losing profit as a result (although your profits may not be as high) you should be able to ride the wave to the other side of this economic disaster and come out ready to grow again (and with a bigger customer base to boot!)

I’ve tested the “price slash” theory with a number of the clients I coach and in all cases it showed an increase in sales over what they were getting without the offer in place. Not astronomical in all cases, but an increase none-the-less. Beats losing business!

3) Consider building and submitting product feeds to some of the sites mentioned in this article (and this is just a few) to gain exposure in other areas consumers are comparison shopping in.

Building a sustainable business often means going through tough times. Those companies which adapt and change to meet those demands survive to sell another day. The companies which often do not want to adapt end up out of business and wondering why it didn’t work.

These are tough times for a lot of retailers. You are not alone. Yet you can do something about it if you know where the shoppers are searching and target them in those places.

To your success!

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