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Understanding the customer journey


The following is an excerpt from the LYONSCG White Paper – The Building Blocks of Unified Commerce.

Arguably the most important facet of understanding your customers is understanding their journey: the path they take to purchasing products and services. Along this journey is research, consideration, comparison, and eventually, purchase.

Today’s consumers rely on various channels to reach different points in the buyer’s journey. For example, shoppers and buyers both rely heavily on digital sources when in the research stage of their journey, and lean especially on their mobile devices in this phase.

According to Retail Touchpoints, more than 50% of Google search queries now come from mobile devices, and the fact that 85% of a smartphone user’s time is spent in apps, in-app product discovery is on the rise as well. Furthermore, 81% of shoppers compare prices and selection online before deciding on their purchase.

The In-Store Customer Journey

Much has been said about the demise of brick-and-mortar shopping, and although online purchasing is steadily growing, the vast majority of purchases are made in stores. Post-purchase contact in the form of loyalty offers, direct mail, coupons, surveys, and more ties into the customer journey as well.

Today’s customers are truly cross-channel shoppers. One consumer may see an offer on a mobile phone, research and find the best price on their desktop, reserve the product online, pop into a local store to physically pick it up, and interact with the brand post-purchase through email – and this is just one specific example of a modern buyer’s journey.

Without centralized customer data and a consistent experience across all of these channels, customers will end up shopping and buying elsewhere. Today, customers care about the experience just as much as the actual product or service. Brands need to put themselves in their customers’ shoes and identify the opportunities to enhance and integrate every facet of the journey.

Now, different customers will have different customer journeys depending on a variety of demographic, regional, and behavioral data. For example, let’s take a look at some different cohorts to highlight how the customer journey differs across different sets of customers.

  • Internet Access – 96% of Shoppers who have access to the internet made at least one commercial transaction in their lives, and about 81% have done so in the last month alone.
  • Age – Millennials value 24/7 availability more than anything, but Baby Boomers demand their issue is solved the first-time. 70% of Baby Boomers would reject automated service in order to speak to a person – even if the time, effort, and outcome were identical. Got a complaint? Millennials prefer to email you, but Baby Boomers expect a call.
  • Parents – There’s one major difference between parents and non-parents: convenience to shop. In fact, nearly half of parents can’t live without online shopping—and they spend about 60% more on online shopping per year compared to non-parents ($1,071 vs. $664).
  • Gender – Men reported spending 28% more online than women over the last year. Shopping patterns across different categories gave similar results in terms of spend.
  • Location – Shoppers shop differently depending on where they live. For instance, metropolitan shoppers spend more online ($853 annually) than suburban shoppers ($768) or those rural areas ($684).

What this shows us is that there is no singular customer journey. Shoppers have different levels of engagement and expectation based on a multitude of lifestyle variables. This challenges merchants to understand who their customers are, what they expect, and how to develop an experience fine-tuned to their needs.

To learn more about the customer journey and how to optimize your experience to account for today’s paths to purcahse, make sure to download the latest LYONSCG White Paper – The Building Blocks of Unified Commerce.