When someone searches for a product or store on their phone, chances are they’re looking for something that’s near them, or where they’re going to be. This type of search is called a “near me” search, and it’s becoming more popular in retail and other industries. In fact, data shows that these types of searches have grown 200 percent over the past two years. The current trend is that customers care more about proximity and convenience than brand loyalty. When it comes to location, we’re in the middle of a “near me” search renaissance.
Beyond convenience, why are “near me” searches exploding? Here are a few factors driving the trend.
Growth of Mobile
More consumers have mobile devices than ever before. In fact, a staggering 5 billion people across the globe own some form of mobile device. No matter how you slice it, we’re living in a mobile-centric world. People are using their devices far more than a desktop to search for retailers, stores, products and more.
Google research found that mobile searches containing the word “brands” grew more than 80 percent between 2015 and 2017. This emphasis on mobile has changed the way that shoppers shop and purchase, with location as the deciding factor. Consumers can now search for products anywhere and at any time, so their shopping revolves around “near me” searches, based on proximity instead of a fixed location.
Consumers Are Willing to Share Location
All smartphones come with GPS and location service capabilities. They’re vital to any mobile device, since many apps need them to provide users with location-specific experiences. While they help power many different things on smartphones, consumers have been hesitant to use location services for two main reasons: privacy and battery life.
Today, however, many people are open to sharing their location in exchange for some sort of benefit. Some 43 percent of consumers say they’ll share personal data to receive promotions based on their preferences or account history. Also, smartphones and their batteries have improved, easing some concerns about battery life. These shifts have made people more comfortable with giving their location, powering “near me” searches.
Increase in Profile Listings
Today, we’re seeing the growth of location-specific profile listings and directories for brands, products and stores. This type of information lets consumers know exactly what’s around them. Listings like Foursquare and Yelp have worked their way into the daily lives of users, boosting visibility for those listed.
For example, more than 145 million people visit Yelp each month to see what people are saying about local businesses. Location-based searches are a win-win for both consumers and businesses. For consumers, “near me” searches are an accurate, useful way for consumers to find the type of store they’re looking for. For businesses, they can also be hugely beneficial. Profile listings guarantee exposure for the establishment. Studies show that an increase in Yelp rating by one star can improve a restaurant’s revenue by up to nine percent.
Given the “near me” search trend, brands and marketers will have to devote their attention to searches that revolve around proximity and location. And as with traditional search, the companies who place near the top of the results will have the greatest success.
Josha Benner is the CRO and Co-Founder of Uberall, the location marketing solution for businesses competing to attract and win local brick-and-mortar customers. Uberall is used by the world’s largest multi-location brands and businesses, including McDonald’s, KFC, Domino’s, Virgin Holidays, Intercontinental Hotels Group, and more.