In December of 2013, during the height of the holiday shopping season, retail traffic decreased. Even as retailers slashed prices in order to entice buyers U.S. store visits in the week up to Dec 22 plummeted 21%. However retails sales year over year for the month of December were up 4%.

What is this trend showing us?

Online shopping is taking over. 65% of U.S. shoppers shop online then buy at the store. In other words, they have done their research well before they step foot in the mall.

This is what Chris Donnelly, Global Managing Director of Accenture Retail says:

“To be successful, retailers must be able to satisfy consumers who, more than ever, want to shop on their terms and expect every step in the journey to be a seamless one, whether they are online, shopping in a store or using their phones. The list of consumer expectations of how they should be able to shop – from finding the same prices and promotions in a store as they do online to buying online and returning to a store – is getting longer every day.”

How does this impact you as a small business owner?

1. Online marketing is more than a short term trend.

Behavior of consumers has shifted as information about products and services has become available online. You need to place your brand in the path of your targeted consumers online. Their first access to your products or services will likely be online, make sure you are effectively utilizing online platforms.

2. Be “Mobile First” Thinking.

At Fire Source Media we design our websites with the mobile user in mind. As of 2013 web traffic from mobile devices was up 78% from 2012 and up 109% from the same time (Q1) in 2011. This upward trend will continue into 2014. Regardless of your niche, you need to position your brand for online success targeting mobile users. A site not only needs to be responsive (to adjust to all devices) but also needs to be optimized to achieve the highest possible conversion rate.

3. Social is for more than meme’s and funny pictures.

While competition is becoming stiff on Google for PPC ad placement, social media offers business to consumer clients the opportunity to reach their audience at a fraction of the cost. While the conversion rates can typically be lower than with Search Engine Marketing, with the right profit margin a company can become very profitable. Leverage online word of mouth for your growth in 2014. This is a great tool for lead generation.

We hope these tips will help you as you venture into 2014. We are here to help and can assist you in your online marketing needs. Just email us at info@firesourcemedia.com and a consultant will contact you.