The Customer Journey: Detours and Waypoints on the Path to Purchase

Back in December, ForeSee released its 13th annual Retail FXI report, highlighting companies providing the best customer experience in the industry. One of the report’s most compelling features is the customer journey map, showing where shoppers start and finish their purchase processes.

But this map is only part of an even bigger story. Like any good road trip, the customer journey veers into interesting and surprising detours before reaching a final destination.

Hidden Stops

In the report, we highlight that over 40% of shoppers use more than one channel during the purchase process. For example, a visitor might start by looking at a product on a retailer’s mobile site, then go to a physical store to make the purchase. This is a fairly common path: 15% who finish their purchase process in a store started in a digital channel. But even those who start and finish in the same channel are making surprise stops along the way:

  • Nearly three-quarters of all purchases start and end in the same channel, but one in five buyers use some other retailer channel before purchasing

So, a shopper might see an item in a store, go home and use the retailer’s website to compare products and see which one is best for their needs, then return to the store to purchase the item. If you only consider the endpoints, it looks like a straight brick-and-mortar journey—and you’re blind to all the other touchpoints. It’s essential to continually measure the visitors at every waypoint, providing a much more detailed map of your shopper journey.

New Frontiers

Customers have other suprises in their shopping bag of tricks: Over 40% use additional, non-retailer resources during the purchase process, including ratings and reviews websites (44%) and product manufacturer websites (30%). Retailers should take special interest in that first number:

  • Ratings and reviews sites provide vital social proof for buyers and are becoming more and more important in the customer journey—three-quarters of shoppers use reviews as part of their purchase process

Most of these shoppers say both positive and negative reviews influence their purchase decisions, and they consider the product input to be fair and balanced. Plus, shoppers are using that input for more than product reviews: Over half say that reviews are important when selecting a local retailer.

Stay Connected Along the Entire Journey, No Matter Where it Leads

It’s all about the journey—and the destination. And the journey is changing. Retailers that take every stop into account will have more influence on purchase decisions, stay more informed about the customer experience, and drive conversions and growth.

Learn more about how understanding the entire journey can have a positive impact on your retail business by reading the ForeSee Experience Index: Retail CX Rankings and Retail CX Insights reports.

CX Best Practices, CX Strategy, Research & CX Data, Retail

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