Path to Purchase: Why Should Brands Care?

September 20, 2016

Brands Nat Luger By Nat Luger

I have a memory from when I was about 7 years old, from the first time I went to a big box store (it was a Sam’s Club, or maybe a Costco).

I walked in with my mom and I must have been in the store for two minutes before she lost track of me, and I was on my own. I had never seen anything like it before. Pallets of different toys, clothes, games, home goods, sporting goods, stacks of tires higher than buildings, and to top it off there were free samples of the finest cuisine in the world (or so I thought at the time).

When my mother found me I was carrying a stack of things I wanted to buy that was bigger than I was, and the shopping list that I’d been bestowed to look after had been dropped along the way.

Today, working in e-commerce, it’s not uncommon to feel the same way. Moreover, the importance of controlling and monitoring your ‘digital shelves’ is equally as, if not more important than brick-and-mortar locations controlling their physical shelves. Let’s break this thought process down. Shoppers come to stores and websites (marketplaces, comparison shopping sites, direct-to-consumer sites) with a mission in mind to make a certain purchase. As they walk through the aisles or scroll through a page, they’re presented with brands’ keen intent of winning their purchase with the correct products, placement, promotions and prices.

Now, let’s separate the physical from the digital.

Throw in banner ads, text ads, retargeting/dynamic ads, pop-ups, video ads, email ads—the list goes on. Controlling all this content is key for a brand.

But perhaps more importantly, when a shopper wades through this minutia and is finally ready to make a conversion on your site, how easy is it? Are you presenting them with all the options they want? What if they want to see the prices for your product from all of your authorized resellers? Do they want to buy it or go take a better look at it in a brick-and-mortar location?

Maybe, just maybe, they’d prefer to buy it from you directly, but regardless of that fact, the shopper holds the power in the purchasing decision— and they’re more educated and aware of these options than ever before.

What brands need to avoid is sending the shopper back into research mode. If they have to leave your site to find out any of this information, it’s likely that the conversion is lost forever.

It’s almost like you have a 7-year-old in your store, and he’s holding a grocery list his mom gave him. How are they going to find all the products on that list? How are they going to avoid getting lost? Before you know it, they’ll have a heaping armful of goods they weren’t even there for, and the shopping list will be dropped by the wayside.

3 Actionable Tips To Avoid “The Lost Child”:

  1. Provide deep links to your authorized retailers—at the product level—for each SKU on your web store. If the consumer wants to use their Prime membership, or a Target credit card, or another loyalty program to purchase your product, enable them to do so. The consumer holds the purchasing power, and they have these options in front of them regardless.The last thing you want is for your potential customer to conduct a keyword search for your product on Amazon or Walmart.com, or worse—opt for a competitor’s product.
  2. When possible, provide stock availability for products held in brick-and-mortar locations. If a consumer goes into a store that’s supposed to stock your items and finds zilch, not only is it a negative representation of your brand, but it’s also an opportunity to lose that sale.
  3. Start tracking your consumer’s path to purchase. Understand their purchasing patterns and preferences. This could be as easy as reaching out to your retailers for in-cart sales data, but it’s absolutely worth it to invest in a solution that can track these conversions online as well. Not only does this help improve the path to purchase for your consumers, but it helps improve your retailer relationships by having actionable data on how many shoppers (hot leads) you send their way, and what SKUs sell best at which retailers. Keeping that digital shelf prioritized with the correct stock and placement is just as relevant as in brick and-mortar-locations.

Blog post by Nat Luger, sales development representative at ChannelAdvisor