Though, the eCommerce industry has grew to a level where some things are bought online without a second thought, still there are many areas and countries or product categories where customers aren’t habited for an online purchase. In such situation, to turn them into online customers, you need to understand the process of how a regular customer decides to buy something online.
1. Need Generation
Customer recognizes the need of a particular thing or service and then after he seeks out the options to suffice his need.
There are two types of need generation, Self-recognized and Persuasive. When your jar of sugar becomes empty and you go out in market or while on the drive, you feel hungry and buy something from a restaurant, that’s self-recognized need. It doesn’t require any encouragement from the outside sources. The customer needs it already and all you have to make sure is that they buy the product from you.
Persuasive is when a totally new kind of product is launched in the market and marketing team is trying explain about the product and is convincing about why the customer needs the product and how the product will affect on the customer’s lifestyle positively. That’s a persuasive need generation. There wasn’t any demand for such product before, but now as the customer is convinced such need surfaces. Also, every persuasive need becomes a self-recognized need over time.
A good example is the time when cars were launched in the market, competing against the well-trusted carriages pulled by horses. Initially, people didn’t like cars and argued that who would want to use an untrustworthy machine which can blow at any time and omits bad gases all in the face of the passenger. Horses seemed far more trustworthy which would cost far less than cars and as a special advantage, learned horses were able to reach the destination without any guidance (AKA self-driving facility in 1800s). Similar reaction was noted against trains when they were first launched in India.
Nowadays, when a person grows and starts to earn on his own, he feels the need of having his own car. Car has become a necessity.
Regarding to eCommerce, we can say that need generation is almost automated. eCommerce owners enters into the scene from the second step.
2. Deciding to Buy Online or Offline
Although, more and more purchases are made online, the conventional ways are still strong. Very strong factors like familiarity, trust and reach is keeping them alive. The eCommerce companies are trying to create those attributes in their brands and convert a regular customer into an online customer.
Despite the efforts, the average customer have two choices of whether to buy online or buy it in a physical store of his familiar neighborhood. In this decision factors like price, offers, customer’s urgency, trust, convenience etc. affect on different levels. After elevating those factors, a customer decides the most befitting way for him.
If the customer decides to go online, the next step in the buying decision arrives.
3. Choosing a Trustworthy eCommerce Website
The first thing they look out for is whether they can trust the website or not. It is a crucial factor as they are not only putting their money at risk but are also putting their time and effort into it, and in some countries, where online buying has just began and trust factors is still foggy in an average customer’s mind, they are putting their decision of whether to buy things online in future every time they dare the online way.
This is a natural behavior. Being bombarded with the news of hackers breaking into the most secure computers and big banks losing a lot of customers’ account numbers, passwords to hackers, are scaring them the most. And they should be scared for their money.
Fortunately, eCommerce industry has come a long way and has many security factors applied on online purchases and on their website data including users’ data. Websites with the security filters showcases them to gain the trust of the customers. Secure link, advanced encrypted codes, etc makes the customer feel the website reliable and encourages to buy freely.
Thus, customer will search and choose the website with proper security features, highly professional appearance, proper response from the Customer Care and the general respect and impression of the website through advertisements and mouth-publicity.
4. Research, Comparisons and Choosing the Right Deal
After the website is chosen, a new search will begin. Search for which offer or company is giving him the best deal for the product. Customer could go for cheapest price, if he isn’t concerned with quality, or could go for a standard company’s product. It’s more like checking out different shampoos at mall regarding to the prices, company standards, offers, product range, etc.
There is a strong possibility that despite being on a website of his trust, after selecting an item or before it, the customer will do the same search on another known eCommerce website which is probably the rival of the website he is own. Professional rivalries sometimes does good to the customers.
At the end of such research, the customer will finalize the website and the specific product and will reach to the next step of finally buying it or not?
5. Final Decision
The customer most likely would compare the best offer he has found to the best offer he is getting in his local physical store. This is another trait of a regular customer to make sure that he is getting the best of the best and wouldn’t have to regret his decision after the purchase. If the online offer is still better than the local shop and he is in no hurry about getting the product earlier, he finally makes up his mind for the purchase.
6. Making the Purchase
There are multiple options to make a purchase online. Credit cards, debit cards, EMI, Cash-On-Delivery (mainly popular in eastern regions), Vouchers, e-Wallet, etc. are the payment methods for the customer on eCommerce website, which are definitely more than a regular physical store would be able to provide. The convenience of making big purchases at with small, parted amounts and other facilities make the online purchase a stand out in an average customer’s mind.
The customer after choosing any one of the payment options will make the purchase. That’s the final step on the customer’s side and now, all he has to do is wait for the product to be delivered as promised. But, for an eCommerce company there is one more step in the customer’s buying process.
7. Post-purchase behavior
Post purchase behavior is how the customer acts after he has received the product. Does he prefer the same website for his next online purchase, if so, does he prefer the same product the next time the same need arises. What the customer does post purchase should also come into an eCommerce company’s radar to know if there is something to mend. Such queries and information helps at improving marketing and ultimately draws the customer to the website for the second time. The long shot would to turn the frequent customer in a loyal customer.
These were the seven steps for an eCommerce company to consider about what factors causes a customer to buy online. And remember, people buy craziest stuff from online stores, and they will keep doing it.