Want to Boost Your Website Traffic? Survey Says Build a Store

As it turns out, clicks don’t always have to compete with bricks.

A new study by ICSC, “The Halo Effect: How Bricks Impact Clicks,” has revealed new insights to support the view that the pair can work hand in hand.

The study — which looked at web traffic for retailers that opened or closed a total of 804 stores in 145 markets covering a population of 222 million residents — found that opening a new physical store leads to a 37 percent average gain in overall traffic to a retailer’s website and increases its share of web traffic within that market by an average of 27 percent. What’s more, the opposite is also true, as web traffic tends to fall when stores close, the researchers said.

“We have long suspected that there is a direct and positive correlation between having both a physical and a digital presence, and the Halo Effect study confirmed this,” said ICSC president and CEO Tom McGee. “What we are seeing now is a retail renaissance, as both new and established retailers are investing in their stores and reinvigorating their physical presence.”

Indeed, merchants such as Walmart, Target, Macy’s and Nordstrom — which have recently made significant investments in making their stores more experiential as well as creating stronger cohesion between brick-and-mortar and digital — are banking on this theory.

Now more than ever — in the midst of rapid digital growth — these companies are recognizing that they need not ditch their physical outposts in favor of digital expansion but that they can leverage stores to boost brand recognition online and offline.

In fact, ICSC’s study determined that customers in markets where emerging retailers have stores tend to consider those brands 69 percent of the time, versus 51 percent in general.

“The physical store is the hub of customer experience and service,” McGee said. “Consumers today want to choose where and when they shop. Retailers that innovate and create a true omnichannel experience, leveraging the strengths of both physical and digital, will thrive.”

According to ICSC, where stores exist, 84 percent of shoppers either shop exclusively in store (53 percent) or in combination with online (31 percent).

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