As we lead up to Christmas findings indicate that 62% of US consumers will have researched Christmas gifts by looking on Amazon and 44% running searches on Google. Social media platforms like Pinterest also serve as places for gift ideas with an accumulated holiday pin of over 17.7m.
A Study conducted by Searchmetrics revealed about 67% of US consumers researched gifts via their Smartphone. The customer journey to online purchase is becoming complex, unpredictable and dynamic.
10 predictions of the customer journey to online purchase on 2016:
1) Emotional value and not just price will determine the length of the journey: I love running and it is of emotional significance to me and this made my journey to buying running shoes longer than buying a flight ticket to Lisbon. My running shoes were cheaper than a flight ticket to Lisbon, but it took me more time to make the final purchase because running is of more emotional importance to me. In 2016, products of higher emotional value (less consideration to price) will extend the length of the customer journey.
2) Certain channels will be blocked by customers: I have to make a confession; I delete a majority of promotional emails from companies. So email marketing as a channel does not sway my buying decision. On the contrary, display, paid search, social and affiliate (referral) campaigns form an important part of my journey. Most customers will completely ignore or block out, at least, one or two channels that seem a pet peeve.
3) Influencer marketing will streamline the customer journey: Influencer marketing will grow in 2016. The impact social media celebrities will have on our buying decisions will be immense. Endorsements of products and brands by influencers will help shorten the customer journey to online purchase.
4) More interactive ads and product images will reduce showrooming for certain products: Showrooming, is a practice of visiting a store in order to examine a product before buying them online. Product images and display ads will be more interactive in 2016, giving users a true feel of the product. This will reduce showrooming for certain products.
5) Buy online and collect in-store will reduce the customer journey and time lag: Stores such as Asda and Curry’s are implementing the buy online and collect in-store strategy. Leading retailer, John Lewis revealed that 56% of online shoppers opt for in-store collection during the Christmas period. In addition, the retailer stated that the click and collect have overtaken its home delivery. This trend is expected to be on the rise in 2016 and reduce the customer journey and time lag.
7) Mobile search will trigger follow-up actions a lot quicker in 2016: Google partnered with Nielsen to conduct a mobile search moment research which revealed that a mobile search triggers about 3-4 follow-up actions like store visit, a purchase or word-of-mouth sharing. These actions are believed to happen in an hour. In 2016 features such as 1-click checkout via Amazon will make follow-up actions slightly quicker than an hour.
8) Speed, convenience and trust will be three drivers of mobile phone searches and purchase: Google revealed that speed and convenience are the two biggest drivers behind mobile searches and conversions. I will add that the trust factor for mobile-based purchase will increase due to enhanced security features like fingerprint and eye recognition.
9) The mobile visual search will have a massive impact on the online journey: Mobile visual search entails a process when a user simply takes a picture of an item and a mobile app like CampFind can identify the product and inform users where the best deal is available for such product. Image search will play a big part in the online customer journey experience in 2016.
10) Learning styles will determine paths to online purchase: The three forms of learning are Visual, auditory and kinaesthetic (VAK). Visual learners assimilate information via charts, text and flip charts. Auditory are individuals who learn best by reading out loud or talking to a colleague while Kinaesthetic prefer learning through external stimulation or movement like taking down notes, drawing pictures or diagram. These learning styles will determine what customers path to online purchase will be largely influenced by video ads, image ads, blog, infographic, Podcast ad and a host of others.
The customer journey to online purchase is complex and Google believes understanding and focusing on key micro-moments is crucial for brands.