How the customer buying process has changed in recent years

Whatever product you’re trying to sell, potential customers are everywhere – but as modern technology has changed the way we engage with advertising and information, both manufacturers and retailers need to adjust their consumer journey and experience accordingly.

The obvious change to the consumer buying process is the ever-growing reliance on using online sources to inform, educate and entertain – but even more significant is the proportion of users opting for mobile technology to gain online access.

The average user checks their phone 150 times per day – and take a look in any living room across the UK, and you’re likely to see multiple devices being used by the family at any one time, whether smartphone, tablet or the traditional laptop.

How has mobile affected the consumer buying process?

Not such a long time ago, the buyer journey was linear – with fewer information and advertising platforms available, when a prospect saw something they liked on a billboard, print or TV advert, they’d contact a sales representative or head into a physical store to ask questions and make their decision. They may still ‘shop around’ or look for alternatives, but options were much more limited.

Now however, consumers have access to an almost infinite number of shops and resources at their fingertips, on a platform that rarely leaves their side. Now, before making purchasing decisions, consumers will use the internet to:

  • Compare different sellers
  • Compare prices
  • Find out more details about the product
  • Look for alternative products and styles
  • Look at reviews of both the seller and the product
  • Look at product ratings

Buyers may still want to see the products in the flesh before buying, but many favour the convenience of quick delivery and being able to spread their buying net much further than their own geographical location. More choice is what they want, and online, more choice is what they get.

Consumer engagement

Of course, this is not to say that more traditional marketing and buying platforms don’t have their value – a mix of approaches will always maximise your reach. But even if their interest is initially piqued by another form of media or a face-to-face recommendation from a friend, consumers, almost without exception, will conduct some research online at least once before making their purchasing decision.

It’s not just that more people have smartphones either – mobile has change the way that consumers interact with brands, and with it, it’s fractured the buyer journey into hundreds of quick-fix decision making moments, as these statistics demonstrate:

  • 20% increase in mobiles’ share of online sessions across the web in the past year
  • 18% decrease in time spent per visit across the web in the past year – while mobile accounts for more sessions, they’re getting shorter overall
  • But there’s a lot happening in these sessions, with a 29% increase in mobile conversion rates in the same period

Gone are the days of long, dedicated browsing sessions on laptops and desktops: instead we reach for our mobile devices and make faster, smarter and more informed buying decisions.

Maximising your marketing with mobile

This continually growing dependence on our mobile devices means that there are myriad marketing opportunities to be had – and not just via your website or social media.

People are searching for informative content, watching videos, clicking on ads, checking your reputation… and a great marketing strategy will ensure that you connect with consumers on a variety of platforms, delivering all the elements that the new customer buying processes dictates.