Australian retailers looking to boost in-store foot traffic must ensure they have an effective online search strategy, says a report released by Outrider.

According to the report, up to 82% of online users who use search to find a product say they will go into the store to buy, and 63% of people changed their mind in terms of the store they would visit as a result of the search process.

Outrider general manager Marcelo Silva indicated that this is a wake-up call for retailers who may not traditionally pay a lot of attention to online search.

“Web-influenced purchases in-store is vital to success in the High Street, particularly when you consider 91% of test participants used a search engine at some point when asked to buy. A successful search campaign is vital to winning both web traffic and foot traffic,” said Silva.

The research, conducted by Global Reviews, was prompted by US findings showing that the annual growth forecast for web-influenced store sales was 19%, compared with a 12% rate for retail ecommerce.

It also found that retailers can win over three out of five people online who already have other existing brand preferences if their store is well-placed in search engine results pages.

The research tracked the behaviour of 100 participants who were asked to buy jeans, a lounge suite or air conditioner.

The research tracked the websites they visited, on-site behavior and surveyed them about their experience. The project collected details on over 550 searches, 5,000 unique page views and tracked 24,000 clicks.

Interestingly, though, a high position alone is not always enough to win consumers – King Furniture, for example, was consistently placed number one in the search for lounges, but only 9% visited the site.

Harvey Norman emerged strongly from the research as both the most popular chosen shop to visit after online research and the most popular brand name searched.

“Customers were 40% more likely to purchase from an offline shop when the shop’s website has confirmed that the shop stocks the desired product,” explained to Adam Goodvach, CEO of Global Reviews.