During ChannelAdvisor Connect 2021, the exclusive global gathering of forward-thinking e-commerce and marketing professionals held September 14-15, Senior Product Manager Michele Maginty and Senior Product Manager Alison Held presented How to Successfully Manage the Entire Consumer Journey, a session that highlighted insights and details through the consumer journey to help drive your business forward.
Maginty and Held began the session going over how consumers begin their purchasing journey. Consumers are smart, savvy and informed when it comes to making purchasing decisions. This has created a noisy, fragmented universe of evolving channels where brands and retailers must compete for visibility.
Consumers are considering multiple products while browsing multiple channels and finding more information than ever before. They are expecting immediate information — and free shipping following their purchases, too. Brands and retailers must think of their product content and touchpoints with consumers differently and start integrating online and offline information to show consistency to consumers.
Modern Consumer Journey
The consumer journey is seen in four stages: awareness, consideration, purchase and delivery. Consumers are exposed to products from several channels. Brands and retailers should think about how they are being seen by shoppers, whether through social media, online searches or online advertising as they create awareness.
As consumers consider the products, they will begin to do deeper research like visiting brand and/or retailer websites or searching marketplaces. As they hone in on their purchase, consumers are deciding where to make that purchase — on the brand’s website, in the store itself or an online marketplace. They are seeking accurate and engaging content at these stages. Providing details that will be relevant to the consumer, like competitive pricing and enticing delivery options, will play a key role in winning the sale at this stage.
It’s not over once consumers make the purchase. Consumers have high expectations on the delivery promise you have made regardless of where the purchase has been made. They are expecting on-time delivery, which means sellers must have a seamless operation for fulfillment and delivery.
This journey has become more complex and varied, especially as online and local shopping has changed due to the pandemic. For example, eighty percent of shoppers indicated they will potentially shop locally after the pandemic, with 43% planning to mostly shop in store and another 33% shopping online and in store. We can see that there is a demand for a hybrid experience among shoppers. Brands and retailers will need to assess where they need to be when it comes to their online and offline synergies.
Changes We’ve Seen Recently
The sudden change induced by the pandemic jolted sales levels across the globe. In the beginning of the pandemic, demand dropped dramatically as people were in lockdown or quarantined, and then a huge spike occurred as people began to look for essential items, items for entertainment and even home office goods. Not everyone benefited, though. Some were hit hard, especially those with limited differentiation or in categories like formalwear or workwear.
It’s no surprise that e-commerce has accelerated due to changes in consumer habits.
According to the St. Louis Fed M2 Money Stock, there has been a 25% increase in depository accounts which means people have money to spend on hand. However, the supply chain has yet to recover. This increase in demand is putting pressure on logistics and fulfillment and impacting the supply chain globally. Retailers are having to anticipate consumer demand to maintain supply. Consumers face challenges on the other end too. They predict what products are limited and are holiday shopping much earlier than before. They are making faster decisions in their journey when it comes to more expensive products that may have limited inventory.
Want to learn more about each stage in the consumer journey? Watch the entire Connect session with Maginty and Held on demand.