Tag: customer journey

5 Considerations in the Consumer Buying Journey

5 Considerations in the Consumer Buying Journey

As a business, rather than concern yourself with how to sell, why not put yourself in consumer’s shoes and explore the reasons why you buy. So, in this article, I’d like us to take a new approach and look at things from the consumer’s point of view.

The thing about fashion is that it’s more often a luxury rather than a necessity. For example, you “need a shirt”, but you “don’t need a designer shirt”, and the same can be said for any article of clothing or accessories.

But this isn’t to deny the existence of brand conscious people or those who think having a branded item is a need. The significance of this distinction is when someone is buying something they want, not need, they have more flexibility to make decisions.

So, what’s going through their minds as they head down their path to fashion? While this article isn’t about the psychology behind what makes people desire expensive things, and certainly all fashion is not overly expensive, a good place to start is asking yourself why you do. Envision your own buyer’s journey and consider that many people think similarly to you.

Let’s take a look at five important things to keep in mind about the buyer’s journey:

1. The Customer Journey Is No Longer Linear

Marketers used to have a linear mindset. It was marketing’s job to map out the path a consumer would take and to control the narrative. Today, it’s still marketing’s job to control the narrative, but mapping a consumer’s path is simply no longer possible. Consumers are now just too savvy and have too many options to even consider going down a brand’s narrow path to content.

So, in today’s climate, your goal is to put the right product in front of the right person, rather than every product in front of everyone. A person’s journey to buy a shirt, for example, does not begin with a pair of pants. It begins with a search on an e-commerce site or possibly on Google for a shirt. The journey has taken place in their head before they fired up their laptop.

Getting people to your product pages is your number one priority today. Consumers don’t care about you, they care about the product you’re selling. With loyalty at an all-time low, it’s obvious that a strategy that requires a linear journey will no longer work. Marketing needs to realize that the content that needs to be front and center is the product content itself.

That being said, customer acquisition costs roughly five times what retention costs. So, after the first transaction, it’s important that you have a tactical marketing strategy that includes special offers and continual awareness, on top of, delivering a quality product the first time around.

2. Fashion First

The good news for the fashion industry is that when people begin their online journey it’s likely to be for something in the fashion category. According to a McKinsey study, approximately 30% of new online shoppers start with apparel and footwear. Add to that the fast fashion market that sees online shopping as not different from a trip to the mall. It could be argued that e-commerce and fast fashion work together to make each other trendy. Just look at the people on their MacBooks at a coffee shop. Do you think they’re not making a fashion statement?

It’s also worth noting that 85% of product searches begin either on Amazon or Google. Therefore, search, both organic and paid, is a vital investment to make to ensure that consumers are able to find you. Once found, you can start offering personalized experiences. With a staggering 43% of purchases being influenced by personalized recommendations or promotions and 75% of consumers preferring to be marketed to with personal messaging, it’s essential that you have a plan once they do land on one of your product pages.

3. People Want What They Pay For

Oddly enough, when someone buys something online, they’d like the actual product to resemble the product depicted online. If they don’t get that, they’d feel a bit cheated. One reason that stores with a strong physical presence do well with online sales is that it’s easy to return items bought online. The difficulty of returning items is likely the last major barrier to people shopping online, but once that conundrum is solved the fear of a bad purchase will no longer be a hindrance. The cost of returns is also a huge issue. Online purchases are returned at a rate of 15 to 40 percent, which is roughly $400 billion worth of inventory.

While it’s a hassle to return items bought online, a substantial amount of it is still being returned. Certainly, there is a combination of factors when it comes to returning wardrobe pieces, such as the challenge of finding the right size without first trying it on and the shirt that doesn’t quite match the pants that has been envisioned. That being said, while there is no way to eliminate returns, accurate product descriptions and realistic portrayals would surely go a long way in reducing the number of returns, therefore saving you and your customer the headache of the return procedure and upping your chances of retaining your customer.

4. Easily Influenced

Consumers might have the upper-hand during the buying process, but that doesn’t mean that they want to go it alone! Instead of hearing directly from you, though, they want to buy proven items. Influencers in some form are part of the customer journey 84% of the time.

In fashion, people tend to buy what other people make fashionable, but how can they know what’s fashionable? They learn the same way we’ve always have — by looking at what celebrities or influencers are wearing. Remember “The Rachel”, from the TV show “Friends”, haircut in the 1990s? The only difference between Jennifer Aniston on Friends and influencers today is the medium, which is now social media, most notably Instagram. (The stats on Instagram as an influencer channel are pretty amazing and you can check them out here.) Advertising may have moved from the inside of magazines and television commercials to social sites, but that does not mean that it’s not an important part of today’s customer journey.

5. …Yet, Still Price Sensitive

With brands like Zara who are able to get clothes from design to shelves in only two weeks, there’s no doubt that quality takes a bit of a hit in the sake of trendiness. The good news for consumers is that for stores to continually restock their shelves they first have to sell what’s on them. And to ensure that things sell quickly, good deals appear from seemingly everywhere. This new trend called fast fashion has allowed consumers to keep up with the latest fashions and has also spoiled them with low costs.

The apparel industry’s market size is expected to top $1.65 trillion in 2020, up from $1.05 trillion in 2011. Industries don’t grow that fast if they only cater to the high-end consumer. Fast fashion has made it feasible for people to buy outfits for any occasion and in many cases have no plans of wearing it twice. Which means the circle will continue on and on for many consumers on the fashion buyer’s journey.

There’s a lot to consider when you consider the customer’s point of view during their journey. From how it can begin anywhere to the people influencing them to make decisions and, like most industries, budget concerns. While a lot of thought needs to go into your strategy to ensure that you are addressing your prospects along the way, by considering your own motives you already have a good idea on how to address each stage of the process.

 

The Pivotal Role of Product Experience in Customer Experience Delivery

The Pivotal Role of Product Experience in Customer Experience Delivery

What is product experience? And how can it help businesses succeed in their efforts to provide their customers with a remarkable customer experience?

In 2016, the buzzword in retail circles, “omnichannel”, reached its peak. It dominated conversations at every turn as decision-makers scrambled to find solutions that would enable them to blend all their online and offline touch points, creating a unified and seamless customer experience.

Fast-forward to the present, as more and more companies reach their digital transformation maturity, the conversations are now circling around “on-demand” in which experiences, not channels, reign supreme.

There are, understandably, a lot of theories and strategies out there on how to best provide customers with the best experiences, as there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, but there’s one often neglected customer experience component that businesses should start taking advantage of should they want to standout and eventually gain customer loyalty: product experience.

What is Product Experience?

“Product experience”, from the customers’ point-of-view, according to IGI Global, is “the entire set of effects that is elicited by the interaction between a user and a product, including: (1) The degree to which all our senses are gratified (aesthetic experience); (2) The meanings we attach to the product (experience of meaning); (3) The feelings and emotions that are elicited (emotional experience).”

One global brand that deeply understands the importance of product experience in the grand scheme of customer experience delivery is Coca-Cola.

See, the entry of generations Y and Z in the market posted an existential threat to a brand that’s selling an unhealthy product. If they’re not able to effectively market to these huge demographics, a.k.a. their future customers, their product is going to go down. But it looks like Coke isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, because as of 2018, it’s still one of the world’s most loved and valued brands at $79.96 billion USD.

Their secret? Smart positioning. Coca-Cola simply stopped selling Coke as a product, but instead repositioned it as a creator of positive experiences in their advertising campaigns.

This viral video from their “Happiness Machine” campaign is just an example of how Coke is using product experience to support their overall customer experience activities:

But what does product experience mean in digitally-enabled touchpoints?

Let’s take an example from e-commerce. When it comes to browsing or shopping online, a positive product experience (from the customer’s point-of-view) may begin with seeing accurate, consistent and complete product information on their screens.

Say, there’s a customer that wanted to purchase the latest TV model and thought of browsing online for options.

Note that customers, on average, visit three to five websites before contacting a sales representative to get more information or make a purchase.

Their journey went something like this:

  • They visited five sites on their laptop and discovered that only three of these sites have complete, accurate, and consistent product information on their product. They eliminated two and are now down to three prospects.
  • They forwarded the information from these three sites to their partner’s mobile for them to check out in store. Upon arrival to the store, the partner was greeted with conflicting information. One of the brand’s online information is inconsistent with the one in store. It could be the price, feature, promo, etc., but the point is the customer was presented with inaccurate information. The customer eliminated two more prospects and is now left with one brand; the one that took the time out to get all its facts right and available in a consistent manner, online and offline.
  • The customer makes the purchase.

Because the brand took the time out to give their prospective customers a nice product experience, not only were they able to close the sale, but they’ve also most likely won an advocate. That diligent brand would definitely be top of mind when someone else asks for their recommended TV brand.

But that’s an ideal scenario.

In the real world, what commonly happens is a customer makes a purchase online to take advantage of a sale or a discount, for example, only to find out that they were debited the regular amount.

Here, regardless of the price, the customer would immediately feel that they were wronged and instantly tag the e-commerce site as unreliable and untrustworthy.

What could’ve likely caused the discrepancy?

It could be that the information displayed on the e-commerce site was out-dated. That the sale or promo was only good for a limited time, and customers would be charged the regular price when the period lapsed. Now, whether or not the customer was given a refund, after, isn’t the main issue. The issue is they’ve just been treated to a regrettably negative experience, which not only means no repeat business, but a tarnished reputation. What’s more is this irate customer would definitely tell their community about their bad experience.

Can disastrous outcomes like this be prevented?

4 Product Experience Must-Haves

The product experience arena is winnable. In today’s business landscape, companies who are serious in their customer experience efforts can no longer afford to overlook excellence in product experience, because failure at it could end the customer journey.

So, what are the essentials of a great product experience delivery?

  1. Accuracy – The provision of correct product information is the cornerstone of digital retail, because, simply put, inaccuracy turns customers off, drives businesses away and wastes a lot of money. The true cost of incorrect product information may be unknown, but Americans in 2016 returned $260 billion worth of goods bought online. Although the returns were due to various reasons, one of those reasons could be incorrect or lack of product information.
  2. Consistency – A standard is essential in creating awareness as well as building trust and loyalty. That’s why brands need consistency in messaging, imaging and so on. The same is true with product experience delivery in e-commerce. If a company, for example, has multiple suppliers for a single item and receives information and images in different formats, then a single format must be set and implemented across the board, so what the customer sees is uniformity, not chaos.
  3. Completeness – There is no doubt that customers today are savvy shoppers. They research and line up choices before zeroing in on a product or service. A smart business would provide them with all the information they need in one place and not shy away from letting them know of their offering’s limitations. Businesses need to even go as far as give recommendations or provide education, in the name of great customer service.
  4. Relevance – If customers don’t see exactly what they’re looking for upon landing on a page, they will quickly switch to another. Relevance, here, is a matter of getting straight to the point and not wasting people’s time. Another function of relevance is upselling. By providing customers with suggestions relevant to their search, businesses have a golden opportunity to create awareness and perhaps even close out a (larger) sale.