Consumers go through a series of steps before making a purchase. Understanding how consumers reach the decision to buy is very helpful in planning your marketing and advertising. In previous articles, we’ve covered the first three steps: identifying a need, doing research, and evaluating alternatives. Now we’ll look at the stage where they make the decision to buy.
After analyzing the alternatives, the consumer has narrowed down the options to one item and who they will purchase from. But the sale is not made yet. While the consumer now intends to make the purchase, there are a few things that can still dissuade them.
Your return policy may have been reviewed by the shopper during the evaluation step, but can still be a factor here for those who start to second guess their decision. No hassle, free returns cost you money, but those costs need to be weighed against the potential of losing sales.
Unanticipated additional costs, like a shipping or import fee, can put the total cost over their pricing decision factor. The higher the extra fees, the more likely they are to stop the purchasing process. They may go back a few steps to see if other stores are also charging similar fees, or they may simply change their minds and not buy the item at all.
Letting customers know in advance what the extra fees will be isn’t always easy, since shipping is usually calculated at checkout and after they’ve provided an address. If you can’t offer free shipping, or free shipping on orders higher than a certain amount, which is what shoppers prefer, then at least make it clear that shipping will be added.
Lengthy deliver times are also problematic, and the shopper may again go back a few steps to see if someone else can provide the item sooner, or if they can pick it up in-store locally. One option here is to make sure your pricing is really competitive, so customers will be willing to wait, or you could offer faster delivery for an additional fee and use a courier service.
Too many questions or mandatory account setup are other issues that can put a customer off. The checkout isn’t the place to do a survey, force a login, or otherwise annoy people! You need to know where to send the purchase and how the shopper is going to pay. That’s it!
Basically, during this step in the buying cycle, you want to remove any obstacles and make the checkout process as simple as you can.