Integration between online and offline activity is key for retailers who report 22 percent of offline sales are influenced by the Web. Retail Web sites are also a viable channel to reach new customers; 38 percent of online customers are first-time buyers.
The study finds the Internet can serve as a means of window shopping. Consumers compare prices, find gift ideas and research products. Some of the resulting sales are transacted offline. To integrate the experience online and offline, 79 percent of retailers have instituted consistent pricing across channels, and 46 percent allow for customers to buy and redeem gift cards on the Web site as well as at brick-and-mortar locations. Thirty-three percent of retailers have loyalty programs to retain customers, and 26 percent offer in-store product availability information online.
Having an online business presence is becoming more and more important to any small and medium sized business not to mention large business. Even if you are not a retailer, establishing a web presence offers the business an opportunity to leverage marketing efforts and build a presence much cheaper than offline marketing with considerably easier to measure ROI. If you are not taking advantage of the web now, then when?