Today’s consumers make a multitude of touchpoints along their paths to purchase.
This much you know. But what does it really mean for retailers and manufacturing brands? How do you create a solid multichannel strategy to keep up with it all?
To help break things down, let’s jump into a consumer’s shoes during their path to purchase.
Digital Touchpoint 1: Amazon
Because more than half (56%) of shoppers start their product searches in Amazon, you want your products to show up when they start looking. By incorporating some essentials into your Amazon marketplace strategy, you can grow your shopper base exponentially.
- Leverage Amazon advertising. If you’re not already prioritising Sponsored Products or Headline Search Ads, these are excellent tools for boosting visibility and drawing attention to your product listings.
- Assess your product data. The better the content, the more likely a listing is to rise to the top of results. Check the quality of your titles, descriptions, bullet points and images to ensure you’re positioned to own the Amazon search results page.
For some consumers, the journey may be close to ending here. But for others the search is far from over.
Digital Touchpoint 2: Channel Diversification
It doesn’t take long for consumers to start exploring options for purchasing the same product from different sellers. To remain competitive, diversification is key.
- Expand to new sales channels. From eBay to Otto to Google Shopping, plus dozens of other channels, scaling to new marketplaces and platforms helps ensure your products stay in front of purchase-ready consumers.
- Optimise product content across channels. As you expand to new sales channels, check your data feeds to ensure your product titles, descriptions and keywords match the requirements and best practices for each individual marketplace or sales engine.
- Use large, high-resolution images with multiple angles. If possible, include rotate and zoom options for images. These rich media features allow customers to see all sides of a product, which reduces doubt and answers questions about a product’s appearance.
- Keep pricing competitive. Wherever possible, set product prices to be automatically adjusted based on the competition and sales velocity. Tools such as algorithmic repricers and profitability-based pricing can greatly help increase your chances of securing the sale.
Digital Touchpoint 3: Customer Service
Referrals from loyal customers are one of your most valuable assets. It goes without saying that consumers trust peer recommendations over advertising. And to earn that trust, you need to provide consistently exceptional customer experiences and services.
- Don’t let the personal element slip from your retail strategy. Technology makes it easy to automate processes, but at the end of the day, consumers like creating meaningful connections with other humans.
- Be consistent. Make sure that all customer-facing staff in your call centre, shops and order-processing departments understand and comply with your company’s customer service standards. Policies such as returns, delivery charges and shipment-tracking options should be consistent across all channels.
Digital Touchpoint 4: Reviews and Ratings
Ratings and reviews play an integral role in the shopping process. More than 90% of surveyed consumers are in the habit of referencing reviews before making a purchase. In fact, it’s been said that 85% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and that even a product with negative reviews sells better than a product with no reviews at all. They’re a must if you want to remain competitive.
- Enable and encourage reviews. Whether it’s on your own webstore or a marketplace, inviting shoppers to rate and review products after purchase is always a good idea. Many sellers have success requesting this type of feedback through email campaigns.
- Monitor. Questions and issues around customer service, fulfilment and other aspects of a transaction will often arise in customer reviews. By regularly monitoring feedback, you can stay tuned in to areas where improvements may be needed.
- Respond. It’s not just what your customers are saying, but how you respond to their feedback that matters. Customers listen to other customers, and that affects your bottom line. Keep a close eye on your reviews and ensure that you’re dealing with requests quickly and efficiently.
Digital Touchpoint 5: Social Media
Social media is often your best best for connecting with consumers, especially if they’ve already interacted with your brand. This channel allows you to:
- Use dynamic ads to retarget. Facebook and Instagram dynamic ads allow you to automatically promote personalised product selections on social media to people who have already expressed interest elsewhere. This method is a great way to entice consumers to reconsider a purchase through specialised pricing and promotions.
- Position yourself as an industry thought leader. Providing helpful content or industry information can quickly elevate your reputation with your customers. Try sharing current trends or discussing the release of upcoming products. Sometimes, just providing helpful tips can endear you with your followers.
- Provide customer service. Whether you like it or not, when you create a social media profile, you’re effectively adding another service channel. Listen and offer solutions to customers — even the ones leaving negative feedback. It’s important to reply to inquiries or posts on the same day you receive them.
Digital Touchpoint 6: Intentional Channels of Demand
This explicit search for a product — by consumers who have made a purchase decision, or will be making one soon — is known as intentional demand. During this critical stage, these types of shoppers may be more receptive to advertising and products being placed in front of them. It’s crucial to remain visible at this point in the process.
- Paid Search Ads target consumers who are actively looking for something you’re selling. You can experiment with keywords and phrases — from broad terms to highly targeted, long tail keywords.
- Product Ads, such as those leveraged with Google Shopping, include richer product information and are an effective way to reach customers looking for specific products.
Digital Touchpoint 7: Latent Channels of Demand
Did you know that 70% of consumers regularly use their mobile devices while watching TV, or that 41% of them will switch to a desktop to complete a purchase? Consumers are learning to use multiple devices — smartphones, tablets, PCs, televisions, smart speakers, wearables and more — to achieve their goals. And when their shopping experiences are matched from one device to another, they tend to spend an impressive 17% more per order.
- Google Shopping Actions is a new programme from Google (currently only available in the US) that allows retailers and brands to surface their inventory via Search, Google Express and the Google Assistant. It’s designed to capture and retain shoppers by letting them shop for products whenever and however they want — on mobile, desktop or Google Home.
Digital Touchpoint 8: Fulfilment Experience
Once an order is placed, your fulfilment experience will directly influence customer satisfaction, repeat purchases and loyalty. In fact, this may just be one of the most mission-critical touchpoints of all. It’s long been known that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can boost profits as much as 95%.
- Automate your fulfilment by getting processes in place that allow you to quickly identify fast, low-cost options and route each order to the most cost-effective carrier. Automated fulfilment is one of the best ways to protect your margins while meeting consumer expectations for fast delivery times.
- Parcel tracking should be both intuitive and timely. Use a system that notifies the buyer each time a transition occurs, but be careful not to set the frequency too high or send regular updates regardless of where the package is. (After all, seeing that an order hasn’t yet been moved from the original destination will only frustrate your customer.)
- Don’t overlook returns. An equally thorough, meticulous returns process can be your ticket to more customer connections and sales.
Bottom Line: The multi-step path to purchase is the norm for today’s consumers. And a multichannel, multifaceted strategy will ensure your brand is accounting for all digital touchpoints in the shopper’s purchasing process. From browsing and buying to delivery and returns, you can have a big impact on consumers at every stage.
For more insight into developing the right strategy for your business, download our free eBook, Future-Proofing Your Customer’s Online Experience.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February of 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.