As a local small business, it is increasingly important that you understand not just who your customer is, but how they end up in your store. This complex process involves multiple online and offline channels, devices and timelines that require a perfect storm of business listings, store and product/service information that are all interconnected to deliver what the customer needs and when they need it.

But how are local retail businesses able to attract customers into their locations in today’s digital world?

Local Retail Isn’t Just About Location

Retail business used to be all about location, location, location, however this is no longer the determining factor alone. Consumers are showing that location is important in their retail purchase journey, but the journey no longer starts when they pass a business in their car. In fact, the majority of consumers shopping journey begins at home on their computer, smartphone or tablet.

In fact, research from YP (Yellow Pages), which was conducted by Thrive Analytics, shows that over 76% of local customers begin their shopping outside of physical store locations. Further, the report indicates that a total of 57 percent of consumers use a mobile device throughout the entire shopping process.

Local Shopping Decisions Via Online Resources

The YP study uncovered determinative factors that drive local customer decisions on where to shop. It was discovered that there are two main information categories that consumers consider valuable for making local buying choices. These break out into what are called Primary and Secondary information. These two information categories are discovered, evaluated and used by local consumers to decide which retail businesses they should investigate further and/or conduct business with.

Primary Business Information

Consumer Purchase JourneyPrimary business information is the key driver for basic shopping decisions by consumers locally. This information includes critical types of business information like pricing, the location of the business, and customer service availability. Think of your business information in the primary category as highly crucial vitals that help the consumer know the ACCURATE basics about your company, its product or service offerings and location details.

52% of consumers considered the accuracy of this primary business information was the only and key information they required to make a buying decision. That’s perfect for a simple eatery or shoe store, but what about more complex buying decisions?

Secondary Business Information

More complex shopping leverages secondary business information to gain more context around a local business, products or services. Secondary information includes details such as testimonials, deals, details about the business, as well as photos and videos. The additional detailed information answer customer questions and address needs that consumers may have during the shopping journey.

Nearly half of consumers (48%) said that they make buying decision based on the more detailed secondary information. In addition, those surveyed in the study who primarily rely on secondary data for purchase decisions stated that spend twice as much as those relying on primary information, on average.

Local Business Must Properly Use Their Information

The data from this study should clearly show you that your online listings and business information are crucial to your retail business success. Consumers rely on your online information to find you and decide to purchase from your business based largely on the information that they uncover about you online and likely before they ever see or visit your location.

The challenge for local retail businesses is to ensure that all of their required business listings are in place and that each of those listings contain identical details across the entire web. Most don’t realize that not having the right listings or having business listings that do not match each other can negatively affect how they are ranked in search. What’s more, local businesses need to ensure that all of their website and business profiles across the internet are continually updated with both primary and secondary data, making the information useful in the way that local customers rely on them.

The complexities of online business profiles and how they relate to search ranking, social media newsfeed algorithms and ad placements have become significant challenges to local retail businesses across the country. The marketing demands on small business retailers are only going to increase as brick and mortar as well as online competition makes the investments required to stay relevant and with a high-profile online that results in measurable increases in revenue.

You need to know that your local business information and listings do impact your company’s visibility in search as well as are used as a determining factor in local customer purchase decisions. You also need to consider the quality of your business website, listings, the text content that you include and even the photos, graphics and videos. They all work together to make impressions and act as an ambassador of your brand online. If they’re not done well, accurately and on the right platforms for your business the result will not be good.