Understanding the steps each buyer goes through in the shopping process is vital to executing effective marketing strategies. The buyer essentially travels through five stages in the shopping journey: awareness, consideration, intent, conversion, and retention. Traditionally this process is described as a funnel, broad and open at the start and narrower as you move down it since fewer shoppers typically make it to the latter stages.
The Awareness Stage
Consumers in the awareness stage have just identified that they have a need. They may enter the funnel and begin interacting with your store through sweepstakes, advertising, PPC, social or traditional media (circulars/TV). They may not know exactly what it is they are looking for yet, but they have determined it’s possible you may be able to help them. Creating high-value experiences like user-generated and inspirational content is key for buyers in this stage. The customer wants to be educated, customer reviews, and testimonials are also valuable, according to Pardot. Search engine optimization and leveraging marketplaces are critical to ensuring your store is more likely to show up if the shopper is searching for a specific item.
The Consideration Stage
In this stage, the shopper has concluded that your store or site can satisfy their needs. This stage as well as the previous is typically marked by a significant amount of research. The customer may be debating between sofas or a variety of home furnishings, available colors, may or may not have settled on a specific product. This is where your unique store/site experience needs to stand out from your competition. Clickseed suggests giving your consumers rich and interactive product catalogs, access to industry statistics and data, collaborative comparison tools, video tutorials, and free trials. Post-visit emails, retargeting and remarketing all play a role to ensure your store and brand stay top of mind.
The Intent Stage
The intent stage is where the consumer has chosen what they are going to purchase. Show the buyer what it means to make the purchase from your store with interactive room planners, visualization tools, price estimators and interactive price/attribute comparison tools. To ensure that the shopper will buy from your store, make it easy for the customer to visualize the merchandise in their living room. Online support including AI-powered chatbots to keep the buyer engaged in combination with incentives and promotions are more likely to get the shopper in-store or adding to the cart. Putting technology in the hands of the in-store sales associate to help bridge online to in-store can significantly assist in moving the shopper to the next stage, conversion.
The Conversion Stage
The customer has decided they are going to purchase from your store, but the journey is not over yet, there are still opportunities to be seized in this stage. Online and in-store merchandising significantly helps the customer add additional items to their order with cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. Financing, same as cash and bundled buys can drive average order value and revenue per buyer up as well. Delivery is another consideration at this stage. The transaction typically marks the end of the customer’ interaction with the store, however it’s the final mile delivery experience that the customer will remember.
The Retention Stage
Your customer has purchased from your store, but to end their journey at conversion is premature. Setting up and delivering post-purchase emails, post-delivery communications, post-purchase gifts and nurturing campaigns are all key tactics to keep your brand top of mind. Hosting customer-only events with promotions a few times a year is a great mechanism to keep your most engaged customers buying from you in the future and increasing customer-lifetime-value. Selling more to existing customers is far less expensive the cost to acquire a new one.
Knowing how to market to buyers in every stage of the buyer’s journey effectively reaches exponentially more potential customers than only trying to sell to those who are ready to buy. This leads to a much higher opportunity for conversion and retention and ultimately higher revenues. Discover how Shoptelligence can help you engage the shopper in every stage and schedule a demo today.