You must stand out as the best choice when buyers compare your product or service with your competitors. But what if you control the entire buying process? That could leave your competitors in the dust. And it is possible by automating your buyer’s decision process with online web and mobile apps.
Consumers of all kinds are using online information to make informed buying decisions. Buyers have access to user reviews, informative articles and price comparisons on the web. And if your competitor automates the buying process they are likely to make their product so irresistible that your product will never even be considered by the buyer.
I was in Costco the other day and saw a woman scanning the barcode of a product with her iPhone. She was comparison shopping. I’ve done the same thing in my journey to make a purchasing decision. It’s a common process these days except for the most impulsive purchases.
It’s not just social buying or social selling although one or both can be related the journey of your buyers. You should understand the role of social networks in your buyer’s decision making process. Recognizing and embracing your buyer’s use of social networks will likely increase their confidence that you are guiding them well.
For example, have you ever looked for a babysitter? You probably asked friends for a referral or at least the parent before hiring the teenager nextdoor. Today you can ask your friends on Facebook. The babysitter search website Urban Sitter recognizes this and lets you use your Facebook or LinkedIn network from within their app. Why? Because they know you’re going to use social media anyway and if it gives them credibility if they support it directly. And if you are an entrepreneur starting or growing your company the Founder Dating similarly uses LinkedIn to help you find co-founders and key employees. Of course both also get the side benefit of spreading awareness through their members’ social networks.
Automating the buying process requires understanding the journey a buyer goes through before making a purchase decision. You can then provide a customized experience and guidance through web and mobile apps, augmented by actual human salespeople online that facilitate the buying process for the consumer. Smart companies are shifting from being reactive at the moment of decision to being aggressively proactive. You’re interacting with the buyer well before they are deciding and not just at the moment of decision, at which point you’re not likely to be in the loop. Customers stay engaged because they benefit from the journey itself.
Automating the buyer’s journey does not mean simply putting one of those annoying popups on your website that asks, “Can I help you?” when she is in the middle of reading your page! According to McKinsey authors David C. Edelman and Marc Singer describe in their article in the Harvard Business Review that companies are now competing on customer journeys with these four capabilities:
- Automation - digitization and streamlining of steps in the journey that were formerly done manually
- Proactive personalization - take information from past interactions with a customer or existing sources to instantaneously customize the shopper’s experience
- Contextual interaction - knowledge of where a customer is in a journey to draw him forward into the next interactions you want him to pursue
- Journey innovation - ongoing experimentation and active analysis of customer needs, technologies, and services to extend the relationship with the customer and identify new sources of value for both the company and consumers
There can be many challenges to overcome in moving from simply producing a product to automating the buyer’s journey. The HBR article reports that, “The more sophisticated companies have redesigned their operations and organizations to support integrated journeys.”
Don’t let a lack of experience in developing apps hold you back. Competent, collaborative software development partners exist to help you implement your buyer’s journey. Your “Journey Product Manager” can build a team at your company that includes an outsourced web and mobile app development team. It’s easy to get help with UX/UI design and app development for mobile and tablet computers that will automate your buyer’s decision process.