Do your internal sales and executive strategy sessions begin with these questions:
- Where are our customers to be found?
- What technologies are our customers using?
- How are our customers' path-to-purchase journeys' changing?
- Are we meeting our customers along their path-to-purchase journeys and supporting them?
- Are we digitally transforming at a pace that will keep us aligned with our customers' pace of change?
- Is our IT budget aligned with the required pace of change?
- Are we re-engineering business processes to align with required digital transformations and mobile consumer behaviors?
The point has been made. We all recognize there is a lot of money to be made catering to online shoppers. The problem is - just when many companies thought they had their e-commerce capabilities and strategies under control, consumer behaviors change. How? They jumped to mobile devices in the form of smartphones and tablets for much of the path-to-purchase journey. In fact, in our analysis over three-quarters of path-to-purchase journeys are already completed before vendors are contacted, and much of it was completed using mobile devices. If a retailer waits to be contacted before attempting to influence, they have missed the boat. If marketing campaigns are desktop/laptop centric, they have missed key opportunities and demographics to influence. If customers don't contact vendors until late in the path-to-purchase journey, then how can retailers effectively influence buying decisions? They need to understand consumer behaviors in general, and mobile consumer behaviors in particular.
In a recent survey I conducted of 108 business and IT professionals, all purchased products and services online. Of those, eighty-nine percent purchase products and services online using mobile devices (smartphones and/or tablets). However, when asked what means they typically use for online purchases, thirty-nine percent answered desktops/tablets, twelve percent mobile devices, and forty-eight percent answered both desktop/laptop and mobile devices regularly. This data highlights the fact that many mobile consumers still wait to purchase products online using desktops/laptops even if they researched the products on smartphones and tablets. The use of multiple devices and computers in the path-to-purchase process highlights the need to support customers across all channels to ensure they have a beautiful and consistent customer experience. This is not easy as there are a lot of moving parts and technologies involved.
To add to the complexity retailers face, different parts of the path-to-purchase journey are favored on different devices. Yikes! On-the-go searches and quick information discoveries are favored for smartphones. Just search for a product or service and save the link. In-depth research and rich product comparisons are often done on tablets with bigger screens. For online purchases, consumers still overwhelmingly use desktops/laptops as they are assumed to be more secure. Understood? Don't, however, forget that many consumers still only use desktop/laptops and their behavior is different. In fact, Cognizant just completed its 2015 Shoppers Survey of 5,000 people and forty-three percent typically only use computers for online shopping activities.
- Daily 1.8%
- Weekly 28.7%
- Monthly 43.5%
- Quarterly 19.4%
- Yearly 5.5%
- Early morning
- Mid morning
- Early afternoon
What location are mobile consumers at when they shop online? That depends on what stage in the path-to-purchase they are in. Here are the most popular locations for mobile consumer shopping from my recent survey ranked in order of popularity:
- Home - living room
- Work - desk
- Home - bedroom
- Home - TV room
- Coffee Shop/Restaurant
- Commuting - automobile/taxi/train/airplane/subway
I will stop here for today. I am writing a lengthy report now on all the details of these studies. If you would like to review these findings in detail and arrange a briefing, please contact me. The bottom line is that consumers' path-to-purchase has been significantly impacted by mobile devices and if retailers and etailers are not in step with these changes, they will lose to competitors that are.
Writer, Speaker, Senior Analyst
Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.