Yext, Inc., the Search Experience Cloud company, released its predictions for consumer search behavior during the holiday season to help businesses prepare for the end of an unpredictable year marked by COVID-19.
The predictions, which combine Yext's research into consumer search behavior both over the past eight months and during the 2019 holiday season, indicate that foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores will only be significant for select verticals, while clicks to call a business and visit their website are expected to surge as consumers opt for digital shopping experiences.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered the way consumers interact with brands this year, setting the scene for what will be the biggest digital season we've seen," said Zahid Zakaria, Senior Director of Insights and Analytics at Yext. "As our report indicates, some businesses will have to get ready for spikes in in-person visits, but given the unpredictable nature of COVID, all businesses need to make sure their digital doorsteps are not only open for business, but ready to engage with customers and answer their questions."
Yext examined three kinds of customer actions in search for businesses around the world and found:
• "Get directions" clicks: While many businesses are shifting the bulk of their operations online, visiting a physical location is sometimes the most convenient — or only — option for consumers. Store visits have sunk overall, but select verticals like jewelry and sporting goods are still set to see significant foot traffic ahead of Christmas.
• Clicks to websites: In response to COVID-related restrictions and store closures, more and more consumers are turning to digital shopping experiences. Website clicks have stayed above pre-pandemic levels, which indicates the increase in Ecommerce is here to stay during the holiday season.
• Clicks to call: With constant changes to hours of operation, store policies, inventory levels, and more during the pandemic, clicks to call businesses have climbed over the past year. Consumers are reaching for the phone when they need to confirm information they find or can't find any up-to-date answers to their questions online.