You might think that the internet would be a retailer’s dream come true – put your products on a website with the right words, and wait for the search traffic to start rolling in.
But of course, it doesn’t work quite like that, and actually buyers now have more power than ever.
Think back (if you can) to a time before online shopping was so prevalent. To make a purchase, you would walk or drive to the store, and see what they had in stock; then you would buy the closest match to the thing you actually wanted.
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Now you search for the precise product, right down to its model number in some cases, and shop solely from the websites that have it in stock at the right price.
Where once consumers shopped with a degree of flexibility and a willingness to compromise, now we presume we will be able to get what we want, when we want it, and at a price to suit our wallets.
Fanning out the funnel
All of this means that retailers have less control over the process – where once the ‘sales funnel’ was well defined from first enquiry to final purchase and beyond, it is now a much more complex procedure.
In a recent report from Information Resources, Inc (IRI), the market insight provider claimed that “to all intents and purposes, the visual representation of such a funnel is obsolete – dead!” and with it, the predictability of how consumers will act during the buying process.
“For the most part, shoppers actually know what it is they want, and where they want to buy it,” the analyst added, “so it is important that these needs are still met, with focus on saving time, money and effort.”
This means more touch points for shoppers to come into the sales funnel – through search results, email promotions, homepage links and other, offline marketing methods.
But it should also mean a smoother journey once you are into the funnel, as retailers will want to do as little as possible that might dissuade you from completing your purchase.
What impact does this trend have on you as the consumer? Well, it should mean you find it easier to buy whatever you want, from the latest products at competitive prices, to old favourites that have been brought back to their best through expert refurbishment.
But when you are shopping in a niche category, it’s worth thinking back to how you used to buy things, especially if you’re old enough to remember when the high street was the only option – even before out-of-town shopping centres came along.
In those days, finding exactly what you wanted was a cause for celebration in its own right – and there’s no reason not to take just as much satisfaction from a well-made purchase in the 21st century.
If you are looking for MacBooks with a warranty Portable Universe is your first port of call, with an extensive selection of refurbished Apple products that operate as well now as when they were new.
By Roft Mark