More Than a Shop – The e-commerce Role in Marketing Today
“If marketing has one goal, it’s to reach consumers at the moments that most influence their decisions.”
These are the opening words of McKinsey’s popular report (from 2009) about the consumer decision journey.
McKinsey suggested replacing the funnel concept that used to describe the way consumers make their purchase decisions – and the touch points where marketers try to influence their decisions – with a new approach: the consumer decision journey, a more sophisticated, nonlinear approach that suits the digital age.
The consumer decision journey is a circular path with four phases: initial consideration, active evaluation, closure, and post purchase.
Many words have been written since then about the new customer journey, the need for marketers to know and understand the path that leads to buying and engaging with their brands, and touch points where they can interact with the consumer and make an impact: organic and paid search engines results, social media, earned media, video, consumer reviews, TV commercials, etc.
Although the journey has changed dramatically in the last several years, the marketing goals have not.
Marketers still need to reach consumers at moments that most influence their decisions and try to persuade them to choose right.
Stores are much more than baskets and checkouts
Some of these moments takes place in the store, be it online or offline, and it still has the biggest influence on decision-making.
In fact, the store has become even more important than it was before. Most consumers spend time in the store not only in the closure phase but also in the active evaluation phase – especially in online stores.
This is why 97% of visitors to ecommerce sites leave the store without buying. The store is another touch point in their consumer journeys. They enter the online store to get information, read reviews and compare prices.
The importance of the store in the consumer’s closure phase is well known among marketers. They spend $500 million every year getting better shelf space in retailers’ stores and doing in-store promotions.
They also spend a lot of money on creative, eye-catching packages – and, when possible, they make sure that their brands’ qualities are featured in the store. (For example, in consumer electronics stores, the televisions are always on and playing colorful HD videos.)
Ask P&G how to make an impact in the online store
In the last couple of years, we have seen that marketers are adjusting to the new consumer journey and the important part that the ecommerce sites are taking in the consumer’s decision-making.
Major brands pay Amazon a lot of money to promote their products in relevant categories and search results pages.
They also pay for sponsored product native ads, banners and other types of online promotions in other big online stores (such as Very.co.uk, Argos.co.uk and Littlewoods.com).
The retailers understand that their online shops are playing a much more significant role in the consumer decision journey.
They are not just a place where consumers can buy products, and they offer suppliers to use this touch point and engage their potential shoppers.
It is a win-win for everyone: The advertisers get the option of securing premium digital “shelf space” for their brands (in the form of native ads in the store) and influence their consumers in the “moment of truth” when they are in the store and ready to buy – as well as when consumers are in the early active evaluation phase.
At the same time, the retailers are being paid for letting advertisers take advantage of this priceless touch point and they can monetize their traffic (just like any other popular website).
In store promotion (also known as trade marketing or promoted listings) in ecommerce sites has evolved rapidly and it is catching up with the publishers advertising trends – It started with old school advertising tools and placements such as banner ads and sponsorships and moved towards the new ad-tech industry standards – native, programmatic, pay-per-result, RTB etc.
One major advertiser who speaks about the importance of online stores is P&G – A few weeks ago said their CFO that P&G will continue to shift its resources and investment to digital in order to make the most of the ecommerce opportunity.
“We see ecommerce not as a separate activity but as an integrated part of how we meet consumer when and where they want to shop. We are working very closely with bricks-and-mortar, omnichannel and pureplay retailers to make sure we show up and have the product offerings to win“
Like AdWords for e-Commerce – The right promotion for the right person at the right time and the right place
This is very similar to the rationale of offering AdWords in Google search results pages.
The consumers can find all the information they need in the organic search results and can access the sites they were looking for, but they can also find paid search results by advertisers who want to promote relevant sites and offerings.
But while Google offers advertisers the ability to exploit these touch points during the zero moment of truth – the active evaluation phase, e-commerce sites have a much wider impact.
First they reach the consumers in the zero moment of truth; and then, even more importantly, they do it in the real moment of truth – the in-store closure.
It all sums up to one question
I would like to conclude with one of the final suggestions in McKinsey’s report – “Win the in-store battle”.
Their research found that “one consequence of the new world of marketing complexity is that more consumers hold off their final purchase decision until they’re in a store”.
When more and more consumers take this decision in the online store, ask yourself this – Are you wining the in-store battle?
If you think you can do better in this battle field give us a call.
Mabaya operates a state-of-the-art Sponsored Products ad network that empowers advertisers to secure premium digital shelf space for their brands in online stores.