understanding your customers 'path to purchase'

The path to purchase is rarely straight, smooth and traffic-free. More often than not, it’s littered with crossroads, diversions and road-blocks (say, an unexpected flash sale from a rival brand).

Whatever the case, getting from A to B can often take consumers via C, D, E and back again before they arrive at their destination. So, with the path to purchase being this complex and inconsistent, organisations should aim to make it as direct and simple as possible. A tough job, perhaps, but one that will ultimately lead to more sales.

Too often, the customer experience is designed and executed from the bubble of head office – by multiple, siloed groups of people who have never had personal, unbiased experiences of purchasing their own product, and might not even live in the country they’re marketing to. This approach can lead to consumers being bombarded with mixed messages across different touchpoints, leaving them confused and conflicted rather than certain of their destination.

For a stat that backs this up, look no further than Bain & Co’s research into customer experience. The global management consultancy firm has found that while 80% of brands claim to offer a top-notch retail experience, consumer data tells a different story. In reality, today’s shoppers believe that only 8% of companies deliver an experience that could be considered ‘superior’.   

The challenge for most organisations, therefore, is how to burst that head office bubble and create an experience that’s both truly enjoyable and straightforward for customers. To optimise the path to purchase, companies need to figure out how to really get into the heads of the people buying their products. In the words of Atticus Finch in Lee’s How To Kill a Mockingbird, ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.’ Rather gruesome, we know, but we think the sentiment fits – although we prefer to take the market research route.

Using market research to inform business decisions and enable insights into customer purchase behaviours is all businesses really need to understand their consumers. Aligning this understanding across different parts of the organisation will help break down the aforementioned silos, unify and streamline communications and realign retail experiences to be as focused and enjoyable as possible. There is no quick fix, but there can be a better, easier, more cost-effective direction for both the customer and the business.


So, what can you learn about the path to purchase to help point it in the direction you want it to? And how do you glean this knowledge? As a starting point, we suggest considering some of the actions and investigations customers are taking during the purchase process. Check out our infographic to learn more:

If you have any questions regarding your customers’ path to purchase and how you could understand this better, get in touch with the team at MM-Eye today – we’d love to hear from you.

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Client Services Director

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