There's a lot that goes into a purchase decision.
How, what, where, when, and who are all questions customers encounter when they're looking to buy a product or choose a retailer. So what are some of the factors that influence customer purchasing decisions, and how can your brand use them to gain an edge over your competitors?
Availability: Customers can’t buy what you don’t have, which is why inventory management is even more crucial now.
Discoverability: Customers can’t purchase a product if they have no idea it exists, if your brand offers it, or if your brand even exists.
Quality: Customers won’t continue to buy from you if the product quality is poor, or if they don’t get much out of the intended use of the product.
Price: Item cost does play a part in customer purchase decisions, but it’s not always about having the cheapest item. Having fairly priced products, or providing diversified product offerings at different price points also plays a part in shaping customer purchase decisions.
Similar to how “content is king” for marketers, convenience is starting to wear a crown of its own. More consumers are opting-in for convenience when making purchases, from getting groceries delivered to subscribing for automatic product refills.
According to the National Retail Federation, 83 percent of consumers say convenience while shopping is more important to them now compared with five years ago. Furthermore, convenience plays a part at different stages of the customer journey. For some customers convenience is most important at the beginning of the buying process when they are researching products and gathering options for where and when to buy the product. On the other hand, the same study revealed that 40% of in-store shoppers said convenience at checkout time is most important.
Different options such as buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS), self-checkout, or next-day delivery are only a few examples of convenience factors that can influence when a customer makes a purchase.
You might think value and price are the same thing. But in reality value stands for more than just how much something costs. Consider again how for some customers convenience is the most important factor in determining where they shop: for types of customers, getting the most value for their purchase is an important factor.
Let's say two different retailers are exactly the same distance from the customer and sell a product for the same price: how does the customer choose where to buy the product?
This is where value-adds can play a part - the customer gets something out of the transaction other more than just the product they’re buying. This helps them to decide which retailer they choose. So what are some value-adds?
Loyalty programs are the best example of value-adds you can offer customers. Each purchase provides the customer with points or credits for future rewards, while their loyalty program membership offers them exclusive benefits, experiences, and other perks. With a loyalty program the customer gets more for their money, helping to incentivize their purchase.
Corporate Social Responsibility & Values
The number of consumers who align their buying decisions with company’s values is only growing. In one study 75% of people surveyed are likely to start shopping at a company that supports an issue they agree with. This is because more consumers are viewing their buying decisions as extensions of their beliefs, and thus want to shop with companies that make them feel supported and good about their choices. Customers are more inclined to align themselves with corporations that match their moral drivers. So if a business donates a portion of its profits to charity, makes its products out of renewable resources, or uses carbon offsetting measures in their operations, then they have a higher chance of attracting the customer segments that factor those elements into their buying decisions.
Another value-add you can offer is educational content for people who are considering buying your products. Content is not only good for establishing your credibility - it can also help inspire customers to make a purchase. Your resources can be in-depth as product usage tutorials, or as light as providing different product ideas for gifts or dinner recipes for food brands. Becoming a go-to resource for information seekers will make your brand more valuable and more trustworthy for your customers.
How much a brand focuses on maintaining positive customer-brand relationships will also impact customer buying decisions. Customers want to shop from brands that provide them with a great experience, and will tailor their decisions based on their past interactions with a brand.
Because of the range of options at their disposal when it comes to selecting products and retailers, consumers have higher expectations for the level of customer service they receive when shopping. Good customer service is a key aspect to maintaining good customer relationships. In a 2018 research study by Zendesk 58% of customers stopped buying from a company after experiencing a bad customer service interaction and 52% said they recommended not buying that company’s products or services to others. You can ensure customer service makes a positive impact on your brand-customer relationships by:
- Providing quality training for customer service staff
- Offering multiple channels options for customers to find help, via text, email, chat, etc.
- Proactively offer assistance and issue resolution
- Taking extra steps to meet the customer's needs
Personalization and relevance play a huge part in the brand-customer relationship. Customers want to be seen and treated as a unique individual by they brands they shop from, not as just another customer in a group. This means that brands needs to focus on creating offers, products, and messaging that is specifically relevant on the individual level. While this might sound beyond difficult to achieve, the truth is personalization works: it helps drive up loyalty and share-of-wallet while driving down marketing and sales costs.
Knowing What's Important
It would be nice to know which, if any, of these factors would be the key driving force for customer purchases. But the truth is people are complicated; and oftentimes their decision making isn’t driven by obvious logical motivations you can easily follow.
Which is why it’s important for all of these different factors to work together in tandem to influence your customer's purchasing decisions. You might not always offer an item at the lowest price, but you can make it easier and more convenient for customers to buy the item from you. You can provide valuable rewards or incentives through your customer loyalty program that make shopping with you more rewarding than your competitors. You can even focus on promoting the quality of your products and the top-notch customer service that makes the buying experience a delight.
Find the ways you can make your brand stand out and be the ideal option for customers when they're making their buying decisions.