Here’s a fun fact for you: Consider that 90% of the world’s data has been produced in just the last two years.
This explosion of information is known as “Big Data,” and it is completely transforming the world around us, according to the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
When you first read that you might be thinking, “That’s awesome because I have more information at my fingertips to make life easier and help me make educated decisions.”
In many ways that’s probably true, but consider the amount of information available to consumers today when it comes to shopping for YOUR products.
Is it helping your customers or creating confusion and causing frustration?
Too much information can push the consumer into “analysis paralysis” where they take a year of deep diving into your category, looking at every consumer review ever written, trying to avoid a mistake.
The wrong information due to marketing puffery or phony review sites can confuse a consumer causing them to make a bad decision.
Conflicting information can confuse a consumer pushing them to the sidelines to lament in their frustration from having to shop a category that lacks transparancy. Understanding your customer’s shopping journey could be the difference in you converting them into valuable customers or not.
So, how can you benefit them and yourself by knowing more about who they have been listening to?
If they’ve shopped your competition down the street, that may tell you they’ve been hard closed, so you should give them plenty of space and apply minimum pressure to compensate for how they were likely treated.
If they have been surfing the web, they may visited sites like Best Mattress Online who told them that some scrub mattress that you don’t carry was #1 on the “Best Beds For Side Sleepers” list. You can take that opportunity to explain to them that there is no legitmate way to confirm that a bed is ideal for them unless they have been fitted for it; no list can shortcut that.
You can also help them understand how affiliate marketing works and that the list they read was likely put together by the website with very little to no effort made to really understand the science of it all in order to justify their claims. If you want to establish your store as THE leader in the market and an authority on the products that you sell, there is a really easy way to do that.
Ask the consumer because they are the guide of their own shopping process.
Trust is critical when it comes to winning a customer. Asking them about their customer journey will not only inform your approach, it will also help you serve that customer in a way that gets them to the best possible outcome.
How long have they been shopping? What sites have they visited online to learn about the product? What stores have they been to in your market? What have they learned so far that has been helpful? What have they learned that has made the process more confusing?
Empathy is a beautiful thing, and showing some will likely separate you from other retailers.
We reached out to our good friend Jesse Kostuhoski, vice president of retail development for the Furniture and Appliance Mart in Stephens Point, Wisconsin to see what he had to say about it all.
“Asking great questions, and giving them some credit for the work they have been doing to learn about your product or your company is a great way to build a relationship with a consumer. Recognize the effort they have made with a nice pat on the back, point out the bad information when appropriate, simplify the process where you can, and you will have a friend and customer for life. This is more important than our industry realizes. We lose when we create confrontation and division from online and instore. Let’s give our guests the best experience by being better together as one omni journey with the sole focus of improving our guests lives!”
According to our very own superhero Mattman—AKA Andrew Schlesser from Sweet Dreams Mattress and Furniture—knowing more about the customer journey helps them help the consumer in a more meaningful way.
“We believe in our sleep products and we prove it by allowing our guests to tell us what other options are on the table,” he says. “Why have they come to learn about our products? Because they were not able to make a decision about what they have already seen. It saves time and energy for us and them when we can communicate with more clarity. And it also helps us find the best solution to whatever the situation is for their sleep.”
Remember that consumers are confused when it comes to shopping for products in the sleep improvement space. Coil counts, ILD’s, thread counts, and sleep trackers are all things that can really spin a shopper out.
So if you can simplify the experience for them and acknowledge their journey, you will make more friends and sell more product. Sometimes knowing where they have been is just as important as understanding where they want to go.