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Follow the clickstream journey through Omnichannel Land

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Online grocery shopping continues to gain momentum as a modality of choice for many shoppers. As a result, consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies must stay informed and in tune with what their customers want from all of their shopping experiences – not only in the physical store, but also on communication channels ranging from apps on their mobile devices to social media.

The customer journey for these omnichannel shoppers – those who purchase both online and in brick-and-mortar stores – can sometimes become an adventure marked by twists and turns, depending on how they search for items and whether the products they seek are available. That’s why it’s crucial to provide an omnichannel experience that is easy, relevant, and accurate – and can also meet shoppers’ needs if they encounter a curve in the road.

This infographic shares insights from research conducted to reveal how brands can implement a seamless integration of digital and physical shopping experiences in today’s omnichannel environment. Because brands that understand user behavior and the hybrid shopper’s entire online path to purchase will be able to meet them every step of the way.

The players: Who are omnichannel shoppers?

Our research found that omnichannel shoppers, also known as hybrid shoppers, are mastering both the online and in-store grocery experiences. They share similar traits and preferences (they’re more likely to be millennial or Gen Z, and they’re more likely to have kids), and their shopping journeys tend to follow similar patterns, from when and how they take place to how long they take to complete. While they search and shop via multiple channels ranging from websites and mobile apps to social media, they’re all seeking a seamless user experience.

The brand forest: How omnichannel shoppers build their online baskets

Search is an integral part of the omnichannel shopper’s purchasing path. A series of searches and choices made along the way create the clickstream journey. Search terms affect how brands show up in a shopper’s search journey, and the results are often determined by category. For example, soft drinks lead the list of the top categories to appear for branded search terms, while the top spot for unbranded search terms goes to the refrigerated grocery category.

Search is not just limited to the starting point for the typical online path to purchase: Customer data shows it plays an important role throughout the entire clickstream journey. From starting their carts and adding to their baskets to making last-minute additions, shoppers rely on search to inspire, inform, and complete their orders in a timely manner.

The path: Meeting clickstream journey expectations

Today’s omnichannel shoppers show similar expectations, preferences, and behavior. They want an easy online experience, from online browsing to in-store purchases. Some strategies brands can implement to meet those expectations include:

  • Encourage exploration: Hybrid shoppers are looking to retailer sites, apps, and social media for inspiration, giving brands an opportunity to engage shoppers with new ideas across multiple platforms.

  • Convert search to sales: Search is the most engaging component in a shopper’s online journey, so it’s crucial to streamline the path from search to sale as much as possible.

  • Create a seamless experience: Hybrid shoppers want to see the same products, pricing and offers online as they do in-store.

  • Ensure accuracy and availability: Orders must be accurate, with relevant substitutions in place when the desired item is not in stock.

Alternative alley: When the omnichannel journey hits a speed bump

Understanding the shopper journey also helps brands make it easier for customers to build their online baskets when their journey takes an unforeseen turn, such as an unsuccessful search. Our research found that shoppers tend to pivot their purchase decisions in a few similar ways when an item they search for is not displayed. Following an unsuccessful search, shoppers seem to frequently take one of a few specific actions, from refining their search or rescoping their parameters, to simply moving on to the next item on their list.

Substitution swamp: What online shoppers will accept

Clickstream analytics reveal that while customers are open to receiving substitutions in their orders when their preferred item is not available, they’re particular about the categories in which they’re willing to accept a swap. While they are more accepting of product substitutions for shelf stable, cleaning, and other items, they’re less willing to accept substitutions for health, beauty and pet products.

Knowing a hybrid shopper’s substitution preferences can increase satisfaction with their online experience, so it’s important to understand where different categories fall in that spectrum of substitution. Our research also found that across all categories, more than half (60%) of shoppers prefer to pick their own substitutions.

Winning the clickstream game

By embracing an omnichannel approach, retailers can create personalized experiences that not only meet but exceed the expectations of today's hybrid shoppers. Understanding the end-to-end customer clickstream journey when shopping online will help ensure brands can create a simple and seamless user experience; one that fosters long-term customer loyalty and drives growth in today’s ever-evolving retail landscape.

Download the infographic to learn more.

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