There’s a new Path to Purchase. Shoppers have turned increasingly to online shopping and curbside pick-up amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We therefore now have a new experimental digital buyer with 70% of consumers buying on apps and 75% of in-store shoppers trying new brands.
This pandemic has forced behavioral changes. These changes are permanent. We have a new experimental digital buyer who will have access to multiple channels for shopping with permanent use of mobile apps, voice assistants and websites.
This shift to digital has impacted four key areas along the Path to Purchase.
- Product awareness has shifted to online
- Interest and browsing are now online
- Decision making involves even more data
- The end of the Shopper Journey is harder to measure. A purchase isn’t a purchase until the items aren’t returned.
Consumers will be loyal to those who provide what they’re asking for. This is a unique chance to learn from their feedback and build loyalty.
Product Awareness has Shifted Online
Awareness has shifted online in recent years, and especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers are using online resources to discover and trial new products and brands that they intend to continue using post-pandemic. Moreover, algorithms that track visits, clicks, and views inject relevant ads into digital journeys, thereby encouraging awareness not only in the shopper journey but in any digital journey.
Product Interest and Browsing is Online
Interest and browsing have also transitioned online. While they may ostensibly be an indicator of purchase intent, 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned (Baymard Institute). Thus, the online shopping cart is an indicator of interest, a way for consumers to reduce the cognitive load of remembering which products they might wish to learn more about, and not necessarily an indicator of purchase decision.
It will be important in the coming months for retailers and brands to understand how consumers show interest and whether and how that interest translates into purchase, especially given many consumers’ intention to reduce spending in the near future (McKinsey).
Decision-Making Now Depends on Even More Data
Many of us can probably recall being in-store unable to make a desired purchase because we lacked key information. Now, technology allows us to immediately find information we need to make a decision; 82% of smartphone users consult websites on their phones immediately prior to making a purchase (Think With Google).
As consumers shift away from in-store in favor of online shopping in recent weeks, it will be essential for brands and retailers to understand the digital decision-making process, which must account for a variety of factors that trigger or present a barrier to purchase. In-the-moment influencers on purchase (e.g., automatically triggered coupons, offers of free shipping within the next however many minutes, etc.) can all push or pull our purchase decisions.
A Purchase Isn’t A Purchase Until the Items Aren’t Returned
Today, tracking the end point of the shopper journey is difficult. As we’ve seen, the Path to Purchase is omni-channel; shoppers may research products on one device, compare products on another, and make the actual purchase on yet another.
Easy returns offered by many online retailers further complicates the Path to Purchase. Easy returns enable shoppers to order multiple items, sizes, colors in order to try them out and make the purchase decision at home, returning unsuitable items (Narvar). Therefore the “end” of the Path to Purchase is not as clear as it once was.
Recently many retailers have amended return policies. While some have become more flexible (e.g., extending return timelines), others have implemented stricter return policies to control the spread of illness and to discourage hoarding (USA Today). It remains to be seen how purchase will change and be measured post-COVID-19 pandemic.
How Explorer Can Help
The Path to Purchase is more complicated than ever before. The shopper journey takes a number of pathways, encompassing both digital and brick-and-mortar touchpoints. The journey has been further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has profoundly changed shopper behavior and is likely to have lasting effects on the shopper journey.
Explorer Research has the expertise and capabilities to understand the ever-changing Path to Purchase. DecisionPATH is a multifaceted approach to Path to Purchase that leverages Jobs to be Done theory and Behavioral Science to . . .
- Identify shopper needs and paths within products and categories
- Map the best opportunities along the Path to Purchase, including digital ones
- Provide actionable recommendations, focused on the largest opportunity areas
Contact us to find out more.