For marketers in the retail industry, outlining the customer’s journey to purchase is one of your biggest challenges. The shift to online purchasing has brought convenience for the consumer, but complications for the marketer. Technology has multiplied the potential routes to purchase, leaving us the difficult task of deciphering where our customers are coming from and what pushes them to make a purchase.
A brand-new whitepaper has detailed four influences technology is having on the customer journey right now, and what you, as a brand, need to do about it.
The average adult checks their phone as many as 52 times a day. To many of us, they’ve become an indispensable part of our lives. They are our constant connection to friends and family, the answer to our burning question of the day, and a helpful guide when we decide to buy almost anything.
From research to customer reviews, we’re increasingly heading online to find, compare, and purchase online. In fact, Google claims that as many as 40% of us prefer to do our entire shopping journey using only our smartphone. Convenience appeals to the consumer, so as a brand you need to be adjusting to meet the demands of the modern shopper.
When it comes to smartphones, looking at the mobile compatibility of your website is a good place to start. How is the smartphone purchasing journey on your site? Is it as simple and smooth to search for and buy products as it is on a desktop? If not, you might fall foul of Google’s 2018 update that rolled out mobile first indexing. Speak to your UX team and prioritise improving your mobile customer journey.
2. Online reviews
The power of recommendations has always been strong. Thanks to online review sites and social media, it’s now easier than ever to find out how good a product or brand is before you purchase. We trust them implicitly too; 84% trust them as much as a personal recommendation.
For brands, it can be tricky to keep on top of reviews online. Be it on your own site, dedicated third-party review sites, or on social media, there are plenty of places you’ll need to track online reviews. If you’re providing a good product and service, the positive reviews they bring through technology can be a huge boost to business.
Positive or negative, it’s vital to get on top of online reviews to convert more people down from the research phase of the customer journey.
3. Social media
According to recent data, we’re spending as much as 2 hours and 22 minutes on social media and messaging platforms every single day. It’s no wonder that brands are so desperate to use these burgeoning channels to find new customers and influence their existing ones. Aside from their own brand pages, the capacity for social media influencers to affect the customer journey is growing. Recent technology developments on Instagram allow users to purchase items they see in posts, meaning a whole new journey is being formed. For industries like clothing, food, and other retail areas that prove popular on social media, the purchasing journey could begin and end on Facebook or Instagram.
This is particularly important when targeting younger generations. 70% of teens trust influencers more than traditional celebrities. If you have a customer persona that involves younger people, social media will need to be a serious consideration.
4. Artificial Intelligence
For marketers, Artificial Intelligence will soon be one of your best friends. The number of applications using AI in marketing is significant; here we’ll just focus on one – chatbots. Chatbots use AI-driven speech modelling to replicate human speech online, and it could offer businesses a cheaper, faster way to offer customer service.
It could see real improvement in many aspects of your customer journey. Chatbots can be programmed to respond to simple questions and queries, helping customers look for answers related to your product. In general, chatbots can bring a level of customer service 24 hours a day. With greater service comes more chance of a positive review, thus improving the early stages of your customer journey for future customers.
What brands need to do about it
Ultimately, technological developments offer brands a whole host of new opportunities. It brings entirely new channels to reach people and forms the backbone of new tools that can help to outline and improve upon the customer journey.
For brands, it’s important to flesh out your customer personas to account for changes in technology. What digital touchpoints do they typically use? Once you’ve identified where your customers are at each stage of the customer journey, you can ensure that channel is optimised for conversion.
To bring about a better customer journey, you need to get hands-on with data. Data modelling is improving at such a rate that marketers no longer need to make decisions about their customers based on little more than a hunch. Whatever the size of your enterprise or marketing budget, investing in sophisticated analytics software will give you in-depth insight into how customers interact with your brand at every level of the customer journey.
Credit: Joanna Threlfall, Media & Online Relations Specialist at Search Laboratory.
Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail’s Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today’s ever-changing market.