The Importance of Understanding Your Customer’s Shopper Journey

The shopper journey is different for every generation. Every customer. Every brand and every product. It changes all the time, and it’s hard to predict.

Why this matters:

Understanding your customer’s needs, where they are in their shopping cycle, and following up with them post-purchase with other offers is key to the omnichannel retail experience. It’s the only way to deliver integrated marketing campaigns and consistent messaging at each touchpoint.

For B2B and B2C brands, this means understanding your customer’s shopper journey and what goes into their decision-making process. However, this is much easier said than done, and there are several new variables to consider:

  • E-commerce and social media have made the shopper journey much more complex and challenging to track, and there are multiple touchpoints and devices that customers use.
  • In 2023, Google removed third-party cookies, making targeted advertising more difficult.
  • And lastly, the metaverse shopping experience is slowly becoming a reality with the rise and adoption of AR/VR.

To stay ahead of the game and start to predict your customer’s needs and journey, you need to understand how they are purchasing products, how they are using social media, the metaverse for business, and everything in between.

The shopper journey is different for every generation. Every customer.

This means anticipating their needs and thinking through every potential obstacle that may prevent you from reaching them online.

What is the Shopper Journey, and Why is it Important?

The shopper journey is a customer’s path before, during, and after purchasing a product or service. It includes everything from their initial awareness of a problem or needs to their final decision.

There are three main stages to the shopper journey:

  • Awareness: The customer is aware of a problem or need and begins to research potential solutions.
  • Interest: The customer is interested in a particular solution and begins to compare different options.
  • Decision: The customer decides on a particular product or service and makes a purchase.
  • Post-purchase: The customer buys other products based on their needs.

By understanding the different stages of the shopper journey, you can start to develop targeted messaging and campaigns that align with what your customers need. Over time, you can use messaging to successfully move your customers down the purchase funnel and cross-sell more products. This approach can increase sales, improve conversion rates and build lasting relationships with your customers.

Identifying Your Customer’s Needs

The shopping experience is all about meeting your customers’ needs–whatever they want, or desire, or whatever they can use to solve a problem. It’s your job to provide them with what they’re looking for and guide them through the purchase process.

Identifying customer needs takes time. It requires patience. Data. Insights. You need to understand not only what they want but how they want it delivered. What type of messaging will resonate with them? What kind of product do they need? The only way to do this is by interrogating data across the entire shopping experience.

Once you understand what your customers need, you can tailor the entire customer experience and personalize each shopper journey. This may involve making changes to your products, messaging, creative, processes, or the way you interact with customers.

However, it is essential to remember that customer needs will change over time, so it is crucial to stay up-to-date on the latest trends that can affect the shopping experience. For example, TikTok has integrated the shopping experience into its platform by allowing users to view and purchase products directly on the app. This will enable users to buy products without ever leaving the app, making it a one-stop shop for all their shopping needs. Instagram did this a few years ago.

Also, the potential for a metaverse-integrated shopping experience is limitless.

Post-purchase Follow Up & Cross-Selling Experience

A recent study by Harvard Business Review showed that following up with customers post-purchase can result in a 70% increase in lifetime value. Why? Because it demonstrates that you care about their experience and want to ensure they’re satisfied with their purchase.

There are a few simple ways to follow up with customers post-purchase. First, you can send an email thanking them for their purchase and asking if they have any questions or feedback. You can also call them to thank them for their business and see how they enjoy their purchase.

You can also re-target customers with exclusive offers for other products and services. Retargeting is an innovative digital marketing strategy that uses social media ads to re-engage with customers and remind them of your unique value proposition.

Retargeting can also reach and convert users who have visited your website in the past but never bought anything. By showing them ads for products they viewed on your site, you can encourage them to come back and complete a purchase with discounts and offers.

The Differences Between the B2B & B2C Shopping Experience

The B2B shopping journey is a complex process that involves several different stakeholders. Each stakeholder has unique needs and requirements, making the process challenging to navigate. To ensure a successful purchase, it is crucial to understand the role of the buyer, IT decision-makers, and each stakeholder and the role they play in that buying process.

The buyer is the person who will be using the product or service. They are responsible for ensuring that the purchase meets their needs and requirements.

The decision-maker is the person who has the authority to make the final decision on which product or service to purchase. In addition, they are responsible for ensuring that the purchase is within budget and meets the organization’s needs. According to Gartner, achieving consensus with each stakeholder is the most challenging part of the B2B purchasing process.

On the surface, it may seem that the B2C or consumer purchase process is less complex than B2B. However, this is not always the case. Consumer purchases can be just as difficult, if not more so. This is because consumer purchases are often emotional and based on needs that are not always rational. In addition, the number of stakeholders involved in a consumer purchase can vary greatly. For example, refinancing a home might involve a decision between a husband, wife, and maybe a co-signer. However, this wouldn’t necessarily be the case for purchasing sneakers or a watch.

Also, the size of the purchase will have an impact on the shopper journey if you consider an investment in a mutual fund or buying a new home versus buying a pack of gum in the checkout stand of a grocery store. Each journey is different.

For B2B and B2C brands, the shopper experience is already changing from something that used to be purely offline to mostly online and supplemented by augmented reality or virtual reality. This goes beyond e-commerce and will involve the complete customer experience in the Metaverse.

It’s not entirely clear what this means for shoppers today–will they spend more time in-store before buying products online? Will physical shopping malls still exist? One thing is sure: our definition of “retail” has changed forever.

What started as a way to purchase goods and services has become an experience in its own right. And the shopper journey will continue to evolve as technology advances and new platforms emerge.

What is the Metaverse Shopping Experience?

The Metaverse is a term used to describe the virtual world created when people connect online. It is a 3D world that anyone with an internet connection can access. If you own an Oculus and spent time using it, you’ve participated in the Metaverse.

The Metaverse is filled with avatars, NFTs, various branded experiences, and digital representations of online communities. These avatars can interact with each other and with the environment. They can also buy and sell items, join groups, and participate in activities.

The Metaverse is still in its early stages, but it quickly becomes the new frontier for shopping experiences. Brands are already creating virtual storefronts and experiences for shoppers to explore. Some retailers, like Sephora, have even developed their own Metaverse experiences. In Sephora’s case, shoppers can virtually try on makeup and explore the store without leaving their homes.

Many brands are also creating their own NFT collections. These NFTs can represent anything from virtual artwork to a digital ticket. Likewise, these NFTs can represent anything from virtual artwork to a digital token. They can also create digital customer experiences that cannot be replicated in the physical world.

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are used to exchange assets between users on different platforms or games that utilize blockchain technology–for example, buying skins or characters in League of Legends would use NFTs instead of a traditional currency like USD or euros. Users who want to make transactions will pay for them using ether, which is the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain.

The Metaverse is constantly evolving as new features and content are added by developers. It is also becoming more realistic as avatar movements become more lifelike and environments more detailed. Ultimately, the Metaverse will allow people to interact with each other and the world around them in a completely immersive and interactive way. This presents an opportunity for retailers and marketers.

The best part of the Metaverse shopping experience is that you can try it before buying. You can pick up and try on clothes, test drive cars, and experience products first-hand before purchasing. This allows you to make an informed decision and ensure that you are happy with your purchase. It is easy to see why the Metaverse shopping experience is becoming increasingly popular with so many advantages.

What is the Future of Shopping?

The future of shopping lies in the hands of the Metaverse. This is the direction that shopping is heading. Brands are already creating experiences and NFTs, and shoppers are beginning to explore and adapt to the metaverse shopping experience.

But it will also be shaped by the continued rise of e-commerce and mobile commerce. Online shopping is convenient and offers a broader selection of products than physical stores. It is also easier to compare prices and find deals online. This approach seems “old school,” but it is the driving force of today’s economy.

Mobile commerce is also on the rise, as shoppers use their smartphones to make purchases more and more. This is especially true for younger shoppers who are comfortable using their phones for more than scrolling through their TikTok Feeds.

The future of shopping is with the Metaverse. Online and mobile commerce will continue to evolve, but they likely won’t replace physical stores anytime soon. Brands are already creating virtual storefronts and experiences for shoppers to explore–you can virtually try on makeup or test drive a car without ever leaving your home! But as online and mobile commerce continues to grow, brands should consider how these new technologies affect their marketing strategies. For example, suppose you’re selling an expensive product like jewelry or art. It may be cost-effective to create a branded experience in the Metaverse so that customers can decide which piece they want before buying (or at least get them interested enough in your brand).

As brands are thinking through the shopper journey model, it’s critical that they put their customer’s needs first and then reap the benefits of sales and repeat sales, which could quickly be done with a customer advocacy program. In addition, the goal should be to make it as easy as possible for audiences on social media to buy. These consumer insights can be extracted using shopper journey research and, for business brands, an analysis of the B2B buyer journey.

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Michael Brito

Michael Brito is a Digital OG. He’s been building brands online since Al Gore invented the Internet. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.