Today, the buying process for major purchases has been completely transformed due to the excess of research available online. Consumers spend an average of 63 days researching a product before making a buying decision. These major purchases include appliances, home improvement, electronics, jewelry, furniture, automobiles, and any other purchases that require research before commitment.
Synchrony Financial conducted a study on consumers at the end of 2016 to display the new, digitally-influenced major purchase buying process. This study found that there are six steps to this new consumer process:
- Online Research
- In-Store Research
- Social Media and Reviews
- Return to Store
- Finance Research
The Path To a Major Purchase
1. Online Research
85% of consumer research starts online. These consumers fill their research agendas with comparing product prices, reading user reviews, reading product information, and exploring company website and social media pages. This first step can easily make or break a consumer’s idea of a product or brand.
2. In-Store Research
70% of online research leads to in-store research. This is when the consumer sees and touches the product he or she is interested in. They get to meet with sales and customer service representatives that can offer more information than is available online.
3. Social Media and Reviews
After in-store research, the consumer moves on to the company’s social media pages and reviews. From here, the consumer “likes” the company’s social media pages, checks promotional posts, and review responses.
4. Return to Store
28% of consumers end up returning to the store to further their research or reassure themselves in their product decision.
5. Researching Financing Options
Many of these purchases accompany a high-dollar ticket price. For decisions on home improvement, jewelry, automobiles, and appliances, consumers usually want to look at financing options before moving further in the buying process.
Finally, a purchase decision is made. 82% of these major purchases are made in store while only 18% are made online.
So what can you do as a business owner to help consumers with this multi-step process?
Start by making your products easy to study. Display clear, accurate prices and descriptions of your products. Make comparisons simple while highlighting each products’ best features. You can appear credible and professional by displaying your return/exchange policy and security certificate online.
In-store, your representatives should be inviting and knowledgeable about all products you are offering. This will ensure the buyer that you are there to help and encourage them to move forward into the process.
Be sure all social media platforms are up-to-date with current promotions and all reviews, good or bad, have a response.