For years I have been saying that distribution is key to increasing sales for your book.
Distribution increases the likelihood that your book is available where someone prefers to shop, making it easy for them to purchase. We are an immediate gratification society. If we don’t find what we are looking for right away, we will take the closest substitute.
Now a new study backs up what I already knew to be true. Wilke Global discovered that there was a lack of research on what consumers do when they are unable to find a particular product in both the brick-and-mortar and online worlds. So, the company embarked on a focused study in 2016 to learn more.
A few key findings from the Wilke Global study show that distribution is fundamental in winning with consumers. These findings include:
- Half of consumers (48% in 2016 and 49% in 2017) reported that they would buy another brand if the product they were searching for was not available on the shelf of the grocery or drug store where they were shopping.
- When faced with a product they don’t find at their retailer of choice, relatively few consumers seek to complete their purchase online (7% in 2016 and 10% in 2017). Basically, if a consumer sets out to buy a product in a store, they don’t readily make the shift to purchasing that product online if they can’t find it in the store.
While well over half of all books are now purchased online, some consumers are still brick-and-mortar book purchasers. What this research confirms is that when these readers hear about your book and can’t find it in the bookstore of their choice, they will buy another book on the same topic that is available in the store instead.
This is why distribution is so important for small publishers and independently published authors. Simply having your book available on Amazon.com is not enough to reach all readers. If you book is not available for purchase in multiple online and brick-and-mortar bookstores (even for the store to order it when a customer asks) you are losing out on sales.
The Wilke Global study also discovered that consumers who purchase online are not terribly likely to visit the brand website (only 8% in 2016 and 6% in 2017 did so). Instead people shopping online generally start with Amazon, Google, or Walmart to find the product they are looking for.
As an author, the more places your book is for sale, the more sales you will catch. Make sure your book is in established book distribution channels so you don’t lose out on sales.
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Photo courtesy of Rhys Moult.