Shopping rituals enable customers to overcome their fear of buying the wrong product and allow brands to become both integral and a main focus of a customer's shopping experience.
In our previous Insight article, How Focusing on Micro-Conversions Can Increase Online Sales we discussed how micro-conversions help brands identify the features and actions that lead to a sale. (Micro-conversions are all the small actions that customers take in preparation to purchase.) In this article, we take a deeper look at micro-conversions through the lens of shopping rituals.
With so many choices and only limited funds to spend, making purchase decisions can be a very stressful experience for consumers.
To overcome this, many consumers use “shopping rituals” to systematically build up their confidence in a product and ultimately, reassure themselves that they’ve made the right buying decision.
Shopping rituals can include comparing costs, visiting different online stores, ordering several sizes and returning those that don’t fit. The list goes on and on.
Ecommerce customers are no stranger to rituals. Many consumers have played some form of organized sports growing up. Rituals are universal throughout all sports and pastimes. They can be very personal. Think of a baseball player before stepping up to bat, or a basketball players’s pre-free throw rituals. The post-bucket high fives are important too.
As in sports, each customer prepares for purchase with a shopping ritual that is unique to the target purchase decision. The challenge for brands is to identify the sequence and actions connected to the different decisions and enhance the customer’s experience of making those decisions as they proceed through the different steps.
Top 7 buying rituals
Buying rituals can include actions such as comparing costs, trying different sizes and colors, researching specific terrain and weather conditions performance, finding motion specific fit, making the same purchases as role models and consulting friends.
Online shopping rituals are perhaps the easiest to identify, even if only by trial and error. If a feature does not fit within a customer’s intended ritual, it will be immediately apparent in the micro-conversion data.
The following are the Top 7 rituals that we’ve observed ecommerce consumers regularly engage in online before purchase. Each of these rituals represent a single action or “micro-conversion” on the path to a purchase.
Top Micro-Conversions for Active Lifestyle E-commerce
- View product page or product grid page
- Complete cart actions
- Use product Filters
- Read customer reviews
- Trigger an account event
- Visit Customer Service page
- View sizing chart
Shopping as a religious experience
Because sporting events, ceremonies and rituals are so ingrained in both athletes and their supporting casts, it’s easy to understand why customers with athletic backgrounds tend to not only be particular about their rituals but also carry these ritualistic behaviors into their everyday lives.
In the same way that rituals give confidence to athletes that they will be their best selves on the field, rituals give confidence to active lifestyle customers that they will be their best selves in the store and online. It is this comfort and confidence that allows customers to face their fear of failure and take the next step — parting with their hard earned money.
Brands must align with customers through these rituals, ensuring the purchase experience is as consistent and seamless as the ceremonies in their athletic lives. The more consistent and seamless the interactions, the stronger the bonds will become.
The role digital plays in uncovering rituals
In the same way that ritual behaviors increase the feeling of confidence and connectedness in the athlete, purchase micro-conversions form a buying experience that strengthens the bond with the brand. The more closely the brand can match a customer’s buying rituals, the stronger that bond becomes.
Technology has made it easier to identify consumers’ ritualistic behaviors, whether it be online or through in-store digital. Aligning the purchase experience with those rituals requires patience, persistence and research but when successful, the brand becomes not only integral to the shopping ritual but the main focus of it.