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  • Otso Laakkonen

Path to Purchase in E-commerce: Identifying Phases and Maximising Value at Each Step

path to purchase ecommerce
path to purchase ecommerce

In this article, we delve into the concept of the "path to purchase" in e-commerce, a journey that consumers embark on before making a purchase.

We explore the four main phases: Trigger, Exploration, Evaluation, and Purchase, identifying key elements and strategies to enhance customer experience and increase value at each step. We illustrate these phases using a case example of booking a vacation.

We also discuss how businesses can optimize the purchase path using Maire, a revolutionary AI platform that can detect a customer's stage in the purchase path and recommend and create personalized content, ultimately boosting conversion rates and enhancing customer satisfaction.

This process of understanding and catering to customer intent maximizes the value of the path to purchase, turning potential customers into actual ones, and boosting overall business performance.

Path to Purchase in E-commerce: What does it mean?

what is path to purchase
what is path to purchase

In the realm of e-commerce, the term "path to purchase" refers to the virtual journey that consumers embark on before making an online purchase.

It includes all the different stages a consumer goes through from the inception of the need or desire for purchasing a product or service, to research and comparison, through to the final transaction.

In other words, the path to purchase maps out the cognitive and behavioral process a consumer experiences leading up to a purchase. Being aware of this journey not only helps in understanding the buyers' motivations and influences but also provides useful insights to tailor strategies for each stage of the buying process.

By fine-tuning this, businesses can optimize the customer experience, drive more conversions, and in turn, maximize overall value.

Understanding the pathway to purchase in e-commerce is essential in forging a more personal connection with consumers, ensuring their needs and expectations are met at each phase.

Identifying the Key Phases in the E-commerce Buying Cycle

When we talk about e-commerce buying processes, Google research classifies four main phases: Trigger, Exploration, Evaluation and Purchasing Phase.

The Trigger phase can be simply explained as the point at which the customer identifies a need or desire for a product or service. This can be influenced by various factors such as advertising, personal need or referrals.

The next step, Exploration, is where the customer researches different market offerings. During the Evaluation phase, potential buyers compare the advantages and disadvantages of each option, often meticulously considering price, customer reviews, brand reputation, and product features.

The final phase, Purchasing, occurs when the consumer makes the decision to buy. Understanding these phases is crucial because the further the customer progresses in their purchase path, the higher their likelihood of conversion.

Recognizing each phase allows businesses to tailor their strategies accordingly, ensuring their customers’ needs are met at every stage of the journey.

Path to Purchase: What is Trigger? Case Example Booking a Vacation

In the e-commerce journey, the Trigger is the phase where customers realize a need or want for a specific product or service.

This phase is named "Trigger" because it is sparked by an event or realization that triggers a desire or necessity.

Let's illustrate this with an example related to booking a vacation. The trigger might be a conversation with a friend about their recent tropical getaway, an advertisement for discounted airfares, or simply a need for a break from daily routine.

This instance works as a springboard to ignite the consumer's interest in booking a holiday. It's key to note that prior to this trigger, there is typically no clear intent to make a purchase.

Effectively identifying these triggers can help businesses position their products or services at the right time and place, increasing the likelihood of entering the consumer's consideration set.

Exploration Phase: What is it?

The Exploration phase is the next stop in the customer’s path to purchase, coming after the trigger has initiated an intent to buy.

When a customer is in the Exploration phase, they are in active search mode, trying to gain a broad understanding of what is available to satisfy their needs or desires.

Using the example of booking a vacation, this is when the person starts actively searching for potential destinations, types of accommodations, things to do, places to eat, etc. It's the discovery part of the journey where multiple choices are reviewed and considered.

Navigating this phase effectively is about making choices easy and enjoyable for the customer, providing ideas and opportunities, and meeting the customer’s needs with a wide range of options.

Path to Purchase: What is Evaluation Phase?

path to purchase ecommerce: evaluation phase
path to purchase ecommerce: evaluation phase

The Evaluation phase typically kick-starts when consumers have explored their opportunities and gained an in-depth understanding of the market.

It's a crucial stage often characterized by consumers weighing different options against each other and considering which offers the best value for their money. For instance, in the vacation booking example, a potential traveler at this stage might compare prices across different travel websites, consider different hotels in terms of their location, amenities, and reviews, or look at the benefits of different flight schedules or booking extras such as car rental.

Often there is back and forth between the Exploration and Evaluation phases as customers seek to align their desires with their resources. The effectiveness of your business at this stage can often be the deciding factor in whether a purchase occurs.

Providing tailored, comparative information, answering questions promptly, and offering personalized deals can be game-changers.

Purchasing Phase: What is it?

path to purchase ecommerce: purchasing phase
path to purchase ecommerce: purchasing phase

The Purchasing phase is the final stage in the customer's path to purchase. At this juncture, the customer has completed their exploration and evaluation of options and has decided on a specific product or service.

It’s at this point they’re preparing to make a purchase.

In our vacation booking scenario, the customer might have decided to go for the beach resort over the mountain cabin, chosen the flights that suit their schedule, and perhaps even selected some additional activities.

They know what they want and are moving to make a purchase.

For businesses, it's pivotal to ensure the purchasing process is as frictionless as possible to secure the transaction. Any hiccups at this stage may lead to abandoned carts.

Effective product page, streamlined checkout processes, multiple payment options, and robust customer support can tip the scales towards conversion, closing the sale and hopefully marking the beginning of a lasting customer relationship.

How Maire Utilizes AI to Detect Your Customers Phase in The Purchase Path?

Detect phase in purchase path with AI
Detect phase in purchase path with AI

Maire, a breakthrough AI platform, revolutionizes the way companies understand and engage with their customers.

The platform utilizes cutting-edge AI to analyze all search queries relevant to your industry. With the gathered data, Maire estimates the phase in the purchase path the customer is likely to be in for every search query.

The AI algorithm considers various factors such as the complexity and specificity of the search query, the tone of the query, amongst other data points.

This insightful information enables understanding of the customer’s place in their buying journey.

Arming a business with this kind of data enables them to tailor their approach and adjust their strategies to meet potential customers at their exact point of need, increasing the potential for conversion.

By identifying customer stages in the purchase path routinely and accurately, Maire's AI opens up a new frontier for e-commerce businesses striving for precision marketing and customer engagement.

How Maire Utilizes AI to Solve Your Customers Problems in Each Phase of The Purchase Path?

analyse search intent with AI
analyse search intent with AI

In addition to identifying the purchase phase of customers, Maire's AI also aids in resolving potential problems at each phase.

How does this happen?

Once Maire identifies the customer's stage in the purchase path and understands their search intent, the AI then recommends or produces content solutions tailored to benefit customers at this particular phase.

For instance, if a customer is in the Exploration phase, the AI might suggest content showcasing ideas for travelling; if they're in the Evaluation phase, comparisons or testimonials may come in handy.

At the Purchasing phase, affirmations of quality, trust, and easy transaction procedures might be the push a customer needs to make the purchase.

This ability to create personalized, phase-oriented content helps resolve potential customer issues and moves them further down the path to purchase, ultimately boosting conversion rates and enhancing customer satisfaction.

Conclusion: Monetizing Path to Purchase in E-commerce

To monetize the path to purchase in e-commerce, understanding and catering to customer intent is of paramount importance.

When businesses analyze and identify the various phases that customers go through in their buying journey, they can develop strategies to meet customers at their exact point of need.

Maire's AI has emerged as a brilliant tool to aid in this process. By interpreting search queries and other data points, it helps detect where a potential customer stands in their purchase path and what their search intent might be.

With this understanding, Maire can produce or recommend content that adds value for customers at every stage, ultimately solving their problems and persuading them to make a purchase.

This strategy maximizes the value of the path to purchase and turns potential customers into actual ones, amplifying conversions and boosting overall business performance.

In a nutshell, the art of monetizing the path to purchase is all about knowing your customer, meeting them where they are, and providing them with relevant, engaging solutions that lead to conversion.


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