Why You Should Revisit Your Shopper Journey (And How To Do It Right)

This post was
originally published on Kelton
Global’s blog
.

Understanding the consumer journey has always been (and
still is) a crucial piece to closing the gap between interest and purchase. But
while fundamental needs haven’t changed, the customer journey is much more
layered and multi-directional.
Today’s consumer doesn’t just follow one of a handful of
discrete routes in their journey to purchasing a good or service. With the
Internet at their fingertips, shoppers now bounce around the traditionally
linear path to purchase’easily jumping from an in-store touchpoint to a digital
platform in the snap of a finger, gathering information from multiple sources
throughout the process.
Consumers can now leverage the wisdom of the crowd to
educate themselves before ever setting foot in a store.

Keep these two major shifts in mind when deciding on
research strategy for your next customer engagement journey project:
Consumers are wildly
more empowered in their relationship with brands.

We don’t just live in the age of information. We live in the
age of informational guidance, with unprecedented access to (and
considerable depths of) knowledge about almost anything there is to know about.
This is especially true when it comes to products and brands. Consumers can now
leverage the wisdom of the crowd to educate themselves before ever setting foot
in a store. This presents a huge opportunity for brands to garner awareness
among consumers shopping for their products. At the same time, this also means
exponentially more touchpoints to maintain and track, as well as heightened
expectations of consistent brand experiences across platforms.
Just as every shopper is able to consume information via the
Internet, they are equally as empowered to publish their own thoughts, reviews,
and experiences en masse. An opinion that was once voiced to a handful of peers
can now be amplified 1,000 fold by way of direct input and feedback platforms.
Rapid customer service response has never been more important as a result.
While companies have lost a degree of control over their digital narrative
thanks to bloggers and product/service review sites, the new landscape is not
without its advantages. Adding a digital footprint to brand perceptions offers
a valuable opportunity to monitor and better understand perceptions of your
brand, and what sites consumers are visiting online.
Today’s world is
defined by options.

The market landscape has become significantly more
fragmented and competitive.
Today’s world is defined by options. Consumers now have a
tremendous amount of choice in what products to buy and brands to engage with
in order to serve a given need. The rapid increase in number of options for
shoppers to explore, coupled with more ways to access and consume products,
means that consumers expect a brand experience that fits seamlessly into their
lives (not vice versa). What’s more, people browsing online now have easier
access to information about your competitors’ even comparing their products and
yours side by side. It’s important to visually communicate this aspect of a
shopper journey in a way that is clear and concise, so that your internal team
can understand and activate on consumers’ actual paths.

It can be difficult to capture the complexities of today’s
typical path to purchase, because there’s
nothing ‘typical’ about it
. Keeping to the traditional research model for
path to purchase is no longer an option, because it doesn’t paint a complete
picture of the varied journeys a consumer may realistically take. But
abandoning the model entirely isn’t the solution, either. We believe in a
differentiated philosophy based on key shifts in the landscape, integrating
existing knowledge with newer techniques (like social listening) to give our
clients a complete and accurate picture of the customer journey.