Consumers are moving away from the traditional marketing funnel by changing the way they research and buy products. If marketers had one goal, it would likely be to reach consumers at the moments which most influence their decisions. Increasingly, customer relations take place not only in store but in the digital space. And, in a world where physical and digital are converging, companies need to have the strategy and resources to meet their customers’ needs, anywhere and anytime.

Related: Customer relations and customer experience: Why businesses need to care

According to new research by Think with Google, it’s essential that marketers engage with shoppers, particularly those buying consumer electronics, in their micro moments. Google describes these moments as:

  • I need some ideas.
  • Which one’s best?
  • Am I getting the best price?
  • I want to buy it.
  • How do I fix this?

Digital can inspire consumers

At that first moment, when consumers are shopping around for ideas, digital helps to inspire them. When looking for ideas about what to buy, a massive 84% turn to Google while 68% look to YouTube for assistance. And the good news for marketers is that they’re fairly easy to convince at this moment.

When 90% of shoppers, keen to buy a new smartphone, start browsing online they have no idea what brand they’d like to buy. And this applies to all categories of shopping. Seven out of 10 apparel shoppers turn to Google for ideas about what to buy. This is a prime opportunity for marketers to bring their products to the attention of consumers. At this early stage in the decision-making journey, a brand’s role is to provide inspiration and ideas using content.

Consumers use their phones

When deciding which product is best for them, consumers use their phones to compare prices, brands, and products – whether they’re in-store or elsewhere. A massive eight out of 10 smartphone shoppers, who are buying consumer electronics, have changed their mind about which retailer they'll use or which brand they'll buy after a Google search.

Shoppers have a world of information at their fingertips and they’re increasingly using this information to make informed decisions. At this point, shoppers want to read reviews of products, they want to see best sellers promoted on retailers’ sites, they want to see photos of products in context, and they want to know that products are available locally. If not, they want the option to have free or discounted delivery.

A retailer getting customer relations right

An example of a retailer getting customer relations right is international beauty vendor Sephora. They noticed that shoppers were turning to their phones while standing in the store’s aisles. The consumers were looking for reviews and ratings before adding the items to their shopping baskets. They created an app around this insight, allowing customers to scan products and search for reviews. Another bonus was that they could search their transaction history to find the exact shade they last bought and loved. This offers a true omni-channel experience for the customer and has resulted in massive increases in sales for Sephora.

Consumers want more options

Once consumers have made the decision to buy, they want more options for where and when to purchase. When buying consumer electronics, 79% expect retailers to offer multiple options to complete the transaction using their smartphones. They want to be able to buy online and have the product delivered, or order online and pick up in-store, or have the option to buy in the store and have the product delivered to their home.

To fully understand the convergence of physical and digital shopping, consider these statistics. 72% of shoppers have gone to a store to check out a product with plans to buy online. And, four out of 10 shoppers have bought products using their smartphones while looking at the same products in the store.

And, finally, to complete their buying journey, shoppers expect brands to follow up in the post-purchase moments. Troubleshooting, repair information, and customer support searches using smartphones have increased more than 40% year over year. These are no longer options for fostering healthy customer relations. They’re essential.

 

These examples show the importance of improving customer relations and customer experience. If you’re interested in learning more, read our recent article which detailed exactly why businesses need to care. It looks at what companies are typically doing wrong and how they can begin to offer real value to consumers.

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