What Is a Shopping Journey?
The term shopping journey is often used in the retail and eCommerce sector. It refers to the actions, or steps, shoppers take before, during, and immediately after they make a purchase. As retail culture evolves to put more emphasis on customer experience, the concept of the shopping journey has become more present. It represents the connection between each step, or touchpoint, and the joint impact they have on the entire shopping experience.
When people discuss the shopping journey, they often do so to better understand, manage, and improve customer experiences. Considering the shopping journey as a whole provides a comprehensive view of how customers interact with a brand or a store, from the initial contact or discovery phase to the final purchase and beyond. In this article, we will explore the concept of the shopping journey, its elements, and its importance in retail, particularly in relation to cashierless shopping experiences.
The shopping journey, also known as the customer shopping journey, is a term that describes the entire process a customer goes through when making a purchase. This process typically includes stages like awareness, consideration, purchase, and post-purchase experiences. A shopping journey can span minutes (even seconds) or last multiple weeks. A journey can also take place over various channels—be it in a physical store (the traditional customer journey retail shopping) or through online platforms (the customer journey online shopping), or even a mix of both, making it a comprehensive and omnichannel experience. The different steps of the customer shopping journey are often referred to as touchpoints.
What the cashierless shopping journey looks like:
- Entering a store
- Checking in with your store app or not
- Shopping like you usually do
- Taking advantage of special offers and tailored recommendations, based on data
- Seamlessly checking out
- Via app
- Via credit card tap
- Via station (review receipts)
- Getting a receipt
With cashierless checkout you walk into a store, pick up desired products without queuing for checkouts, and leave the store with the products billed automatically. This convenience, coupled with smart solutions like personalized recommendations and real-time inventory updates, is shaping a whole new digital shopping journey.
The Elements of a Shopping Journey
A shopping journey can generally be divided into 4 key stages:
- Awareness: This is the initial stage where a potential customer first becomes aware of a product or a brand, usually through advertising, word of mouth, or by finding it online or in a physical store.
- Consideration: During this stage, the customer researches and evaluates the product, comparing it with others on the market. The consideration stage can vary if the consumer buys physically or digitally, with digital purchases potentially lasting several hours while physical purchases occur within a much shorter time span. This stage is where reviews, product descriptions, and price comparisons play a significant role.
- Purchase: This stage involves the decision to buy and the actual transaction. Physical and online stores have both invested to create the most seamless shopping experiences. With digital stores, new payment software has allowed for purchases to become incredibly convenient and straightforward. In physical stores, payment often requires cashiers or self checkout and unfortunately leads to lines that hold up purchases. In a cashierless store, the purchase process is simplified as customers pick their products and walk out, eliminating the need for a conventional checkout.
- Post-purchase: After the purchase, the customer’s experience with the product and any follow-up interactions with the brand fall into this stage. These interactions could include customer service, product usage, and potentially writing reviews or sharing experiences.
These stages create a journey, but the goal of a successful journey is to resemble more of a shopping cycle, where customers are inspired to repeat the journey and become loyal or habitual shoppers. The shopping journey is not always linear, as customers may revisit stages multiple times before making a purchase. Each stage of this journey can be influenced and improved through targeted strategies, optimizing the overall customer experience.
What is the Importance of a Shopping Journey?
Thinking of shopping processes as a journey enables a holistic view that serves retailers as they strive to differentiate their stores by implementing exceptional experiences. Understanding the shopping journey is crucial for any retail business for several reasons:
- Customer experience enhancement: A clear understanding of the shopping journey helps retailers improve the overall customer experience. By identifying touchpoints where customers engage with the brand or product, businesses can optimize these interactions, resulting in a more satisfying and seamless shopping experience.
- Personalized marketing: Knowledge of the shopping journey can inform targeted marketing strategies. For instance, if a customer often abandons their cart during the purchase stage, targeted reminders or discounts can encourage completion of the purchase.
- Customer retention and loyalty: A positive shopping journey can support customer retention and loyalty. The easier and more enjoyable the process, the more likely customers are to return and even recommend the brand to others.
- Conversion rate optimization: Understanding the customer’s journey can help identify obstacles that may prevent customers from making a purchase. By addressing these, businesses can improve their conversion rates and increase sales.
In conclusion, the shopping journey is a comprehensive overview of the customer’s interaction with a brand or store. With the advent of cashierless and online retail, this journey is becoming even more complex and digital. Understanding and optimizing the shopping journey has become a necessity for retailers looking to succeed in the modern marketplace. As technology continues to evolve, so too will the customer shopping journey, pushing retailers to continually adapt and innovate.