The independent customer

January 5, 2017
Purchase decisions have become more complex than ever. A variety of sites, devices and research methods makes it difficult to monitor and help a prospective customer. And the higher value of purchases requires higher involvement resulting in increasingly complex purchase paths.

Let’s look at an example; a car insurance provider monitored their customers and found they made on average 9 different visits before making a purchase decision. These visits were spread out over the course of 35 days and during their research they visited an average of 5 different websites¹. While these sites undoubtedly included their own site, they also likely included social media sites, forums and competitive sites as they investigated who was a best fit for their needs.

customer

Tracking these customers and their visits becomes even more difficult when you consider the devices they used to perform their research. Computers where used by virtually every customer (98%) at some point during their purchase decision process, but over 30% used tablets and over 40% used cell phones to complete their research. Insuring you are in the right place at the right time is increasingly more difficult when you consider all of this activity takes place over a relatively short 34 minutes¹.

This also gives your organization a short time to develop a relationship when you consider 96% of the prospects and customers (82% of those doing online research and 14% who’ve done no research) have probably never talked with an employee of your organization until they are making their purchase¹.

B2B purchases aren’t much different. In fact, the average B2B buyer has completed 57% of their purchase decision activities before engaging a supplier sales rep. This again leaves little time to develop a relationship and communicate your unique value.

Even when a customer does go to a physical store to make a purchase, the majority of customers start with online research. In fact, this model of on-line research leading in-store purchases represents $1.5 trillion in retail sales². In order to facilitate this process, customers want to self-educate. This means that product information and reviews are critical. Relevant, organic reviews generate a customer perception of greater relevance and aid in your emotional marketing efforts. In addition to reviews, your help functionality is paramount to enabling your customers to answer questions as they weed through their purchase process and make their decision.

This complicated purchase path, and the information required by each customer, makes it even more imperative to be available with the right level of information at the right time.

What changes have you realized in your customer’s purchase path over the last 5 years? How are you responding to those changes?

Written by: Sheila DeJoode, Sr. Product Manager, Infor
Sources:

1. Chaffey, Dave “Marketing Trends for 2016 – Will we be in a post-digital era?” http://www.smartinsights.com/managing-digital-marketing/marketing-innovation/marketing-trends-2016/ May 13, 2016

2. Witcher, Brendan “Mastering the Art of Omnichannel Retailing” https://www.forrester.com/Omnichannel-Retail Dec 22, 2015
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