New research by retail technology expert Conversity has revealed that just under half (43 per cent) of shoppers researching complex purchases such as mobile phones, laptops or broadband packages make a buying decision within five days.
In this time, 67 per cent of shoppers will visit at least two online sites, with 57 per cent then narrowing their enquiries to one or two in-store premises. This evidence underlines how those retailers with an integrated approach to engaging with customers are more likely to keep the customer interested throughout the process, and therefore close the sale during this critical period.
The research, which polled 1,000 consumers from the UK, also found that 80 per cent of millennials consider at least two retailers when doing their research, compared with 75 per cent for Generation X and 70 per cent for baby boomers. This generational difference further underlines how crucial it is for retailers to stay alert during this time in order to maximise sales, especially given the growing dominance of the millennial demographic.
Laura Arthurton, CEO at Conversity said: “The findings from the research illustrate how consumers like to do their homework when it comes to making complex purchases, but that any opportunity to make a sale needs to be nailed down in a period of just a few days at most. Online and in-store shopping aren’t necessarily considered as two separate entities any more: consumers often see physical stores as an opportunity to see and experience the products they have found online up close, and to speak to in-store sales advisors.
“At the same time, consumers today are savvy and aren’t necessarily swayed by loyalty to one particular retailer. Instead they are on the lookout for the right product or service and the best deal whenever and wherever it suits them best. As a result, they are more likely to pick a retailer that can provide this at the right time. Therefore, it is crucial for retailers to differentiate themselves by combining a competitive price with a personalised experience in order to ensure the best value for money.”
For Arthurton, key to being a success in this area is recognising all these different touch points that consumers go through, and use this knowledge to offer an integrated, omni-channel experience that allows them to engage with the consumers directly at every step of their journey.
Arthurton added: “Offering a true omni-channel experience requires speed and innovation, but it presents a massive opportunity for retailers to beat the competition and provide a truly integrated shopping process for customers. It is crucial for retailers to adopt a comprehensive approach to personalised shopping experiences in order to make sure that they are able to offer the right products and services to the right people, at the right time. By offering this, retailers can reduce the chances of customers choosing a competitor, and increase the chances of being able to compete with the quality of their service, rather than just the products they offer.
Arthurton concluded: “Technology such as intelligent guided selling can personalise, gently prompt and guide customers step-by-step through a logical sequence of decisions leading to an informed purchase, and can provide these recommendations in real time. This can help to uncover customer needs based on insight gathered from the likes of lifestyle assessments and customer profile, preference and buying pattern data. Using this information, they can rapidly and intuitively make purchasing easier and offer a highly personalised shopping experience, which in turn can drive higher conversion, higher order values and greater satisfaction.”