TRULY UNDERSTANDING CONSUMER JOURNEYS

WHAT IS THE CONSUMER JOURNEY?

What are consumer journeys, and why is it important to understand them? To answer this question, let’s look at a typical consumer looking for a good digital camera on your website. You’ve run a great digital campaign, and the consumer has just found the camera they want on your site. Just before they complete the purchase however, they check Amazon, and compare the product details. This particular camera is actually on sale at Amazon and shipping is free, so despite the fact that they had almost purchased through your site, they purchase their new camera through Amazon, confident that they got the best deal.

Market Research - Shoppers journey

Consumer journeys – including off border journeys (what happens with your consumers once they are off your site and visiting other sites) – are super important to understand.

This knowledge is required when looking at signals like shopping intent (for example shoppers that did not buy on your site, though they bought somewhere else after visiting your site);

when benchmarking and investigating lost potential (which can be measured accurately: the dollar amount of money spent by users with shopping intent that came to your site during the shopping journey but ended up purchasing somewhere else); as well as to understand who the consumers are, and what categories and products are most sensitive when it comes to comparison shopping.

It’s also critical when assessing the true ROI of your campaigns, as your ROI should include both those transactions that were closed on your site, as well as transactions that were closed on Amazon or other sites, where the consumer journey was continued, and your brand item was bought at the end of this journey – even if not on your site.

WHY SHOPPING COMPARISON IS MORE CRITICAL THAN EVER

Gone are the days of checking the price of a competitor’s product by walking into another store, driving across town, or even picking up the phone. Today, smart shoppers will have checked all of their potential purchases in your site, against competitors’ sites, before they make their final purchase decision. This smart shopping trend is gaining traction and is only going to increase. This means that you have to ensure you are offering the best experience on every single product, all the time, in order to compete.

In a comparison shopping case study that we undertook, we looked at 2 online giants, eBay and Amazon. In this study, we quantified the comparison shopping market opportunity, and demonstrated a breakdown and model to “win” at comparison shopping.  We looked specifically from Amazon’s perspective, in terms of where the strengths and weaknesses were, as well as the opportunities and threats, with regards to comparison shoppers who visited eBay. We looked at what specific consumer journeys look like, and how these can be leveraged.

HOW BIG ARE WE TALKING?

Based on our research, we estimate that the overall market value of products sold online involving comparison shopping, is approximately $95bn a year – in the US market alone.

Looking specifically at Amazon and eBay, a whopping $4b of Amazon revenues included direct comparison in eBay. While this comprises less than 10% of Amazon’s GMV for the quarter, it is a significant amount that, as mentioned earlier, is expected to increase significantly.

WHO IS PERFORMING COMPARISON SHOPPING?

In short: everyone. Diving deeper into our study however, shows that men are more likely to comparison shop (58% of comparison shoppers were men), while the age distribution shows that shoppers between the ages of 35 and 54 are the main drivers.

While these may be the main demographic currently, the phenomenon of comparison shopping is spread across all age groups.

COMPARISON SHOPPING: A DETAILED VIEW

We further broke down the comparison shopping market into both categories, and products, to reveal potential and focus areas from a more granular perspective. We looked at various categories and specific products, ascertaining the market value of the product or category, and crucially, the “Shopping Comparison Ratio”, which is the proportion of transactions on Amazon that included a comparison on a competitor’s site – in this case, eBay.

The results were remarkable. For example, take the Unlocked Cellphones category, one of Amazon’s highest GMV generating categories. The Shopping Comparison Ratio was 15%, which means that 15% of these sales could have been lost to a competitor if Amazon did not offer the best value across all key metrics.

Similarly, DSLR cameras had an 18% Shopping Comparison Ratio. That’s almost 20% of shoppers for this category who journeyed elsewhere to ensure that they were getting the best deal.

WINNING COMPARISON SHOPPING

Winning comparison shopping requires product-level specific tactics to provide the best experience possible. Key metrics such as price, promotions, stock availability, shipping, SEO, user experience and content are only some of the factors influencing the conversion to sale ratio.

More reading about winning conversion can be found here.

UNDERSTANDING CONSUMER JOURNEYS WILL GIVE YOU THE EDGE

The study we undertook shows how consumer journeys reveal valuable insights into buying patterns, user intent, and – perhaps most importantly – give the best possible feedback on the level and quality of the experience being offered. Applying these lessons gained from real-time, actionable, product-level insights can dramatically increase market share and conversions.

Moreover, using product-level consumer journeys opens a world of opportunities to drive consumer research, digital marketing, category management and winning in terms of the best consumer experience

Not having access to these insights can significantly damage any online business, as ground will be constantly lost to competitors who are leveraging these insights.

By using the tools provided by Market Beyond and mentioned in the study, you can leverage comparison shopping and consumer journeys to claim victory in this space.