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Businesses may be overlooking connected customers’ situational demands, as shoppers’ purchasing behaviours shift depending on the item they are buying.

We conducted research into how the same shopper behaves in different ways when making purchases across seven key sectors – automotive, consumer electronics, DIY, fashion, finance grocery and leisure purchases, such as short breaks and holidays, and the results were somewhat surprising.

The findings revealed that over half (54%) of UK consumers’ buying patterns change dependent on the item they are purchasing, and three key trends were brought to light:

Complexity impacts channel choice

When it comes to the complexity of a purchase, the more complex the item, the greater number of channels consumers will use, as they research and validate their decision across multiple touchpoints.  Consumers preferred to buy every day, ‘straight forward’ items in one channel; over half (51%) always buy groceries in-store, while fashion purchases are split between the store (29%) and online (24%).  Yet, when it came to ‘big ticket’ items, such as buying a car, a quarter (23%) research options in both physical and online channels.

Customer service doesn’t need to be ‘hands-on’ 

The level of involvement a customer craves from businesses to assist their path to purchase also varies depending on the buying situation.  Assisted by connect devices, shoppers are more independent, allowing them to research and justify their own purchases.  A third (33%) of fashion shoppers, for instance, don’t want help from store associates, while a further 30% of grocery shoppers prefer to look up information online or at a digital kiosk as opposed to asking in-store staff.  Similarly, 19% of car buyers say they are put off by overly pushy sales people.

Personal doesn’t mean ‘personalised’

While a third (34%) of UK shoppers expect a more personal level of service when buying an expensive item, consumers wanted recognition and relevance in these ‘personalised’ encounters.  Cross channel recognition – taking in to account behaviours and total value across online and physical platforms – was key for 44%, while 68% said they wanted offers and incentives based on previous browsing and buying behaviours.

When developing the customer experience, it’s imperative that businesses take a long-term view, as opposed to just focusing on what consumers need today.  A short-term view may fix immediate problems, but it can inhibit long-term innovation, where true competitive advantage lies.

To truly innovate around the connected customer, businesses need the technical flexibility that agile software development can provide, to quickly and efficiently create rich multichannel and personalised customer experiences.

By Rowan Welch, Account Director – Retail, at Black Pepper Software

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