Digital’s Role in the Shopper Journey: 3 New Takeaways

By Bryan Pearson

Nikin / Pixabay

Never underestimate the amount of time a consumer can spend on choosing a rice cooker.

First, the shopper looks online on his mobile phone. Then on his iPad, and then back to his phone. He compares product details, prices and reviews with four retail options, including a warehouse club and a mass discounter.

Finally, two days later, he chooses a rice cooker from a mass retailer’s mobile site based on shipping costs and timing.

Nothing in this decision process reflects the shopper’s age (44) or education (some college). However, his behavior, through the purchase path he traveled, can provide retailers much insight into how shoppers act outside the store.

These are the findings of Bazaarvoice, which helps retailers and brands develop relevant content and advertising to engage consumers. Bazaarvoice tracked the shopping journeys of four shoppers looking for very specific items: the rice cooker, a computer, a purse and a refrigerator.

The results reveal numerous sets of complex and sometimes lengthy shopper journeys, regardless of persona. Indeed, the findings amplify the message that it’s more effective for retailers to understand and target consumers by knowing where they are across devices rather than by who they are.

Extending Data Across Devices

The Bazaarvoice study revealed that individual shoppers may research a single item across several devices before making a purchase. The factors that go into that purchase decision — from price to product reviews to images — can influence the consumer more than features believed to appeal to a particular demographic.

For example, the shoppers Bazaarvoice tracked researched not only retail sites but manufacturer and editorial sites. They also valued visuals that showed how the products can be used, tapping into both the rational and emotional sides of the decision-making process.

What’s this mean for shoppers? That their names, addresses and identities are becoming less necessary in order to understand their preferences. Of greater importance, according to Conversant, a leader in specialized digital marketing, are the shoppers’ past purchases (in-store and online), the devices they used and the sites they visited.

This is an important point, because as the buying process gains significance for targeting purposes, so does the consumer’s preference for anonymity (of their personal data).

If retailers meet both criteria — using data “anonymously” by looking at patterns of behavior that indicate someone is in a buying cycle online — they can meet shopper needs without being intrusive. As Conversant states in a recent white paper: “Make sure that all your data is used anonymously, and you’ll be protecting your consumers and building trust.”

As long as retailers can then identify that individual shopper across devices, they have enough information to try to influence his or her purchase process and end decisions.

Three Personalized Takeaways

For Bazaarvoice, the studied shopper journeys proved that the most effective features of a digital shopping trip reflect those of an in-store visit. These include features that ease the shopping experience and provide the specific information the shopper seeks, quickly.

Following are the report’s three key takeaways: