Shopping is Hard: How to Track a Consumer’s Path to Purchase Across Devices

Shopping poses almost endless options for consumers these days – especially when you consider the role of mobile devices.

Consumers now own more devices than ever before, and they’re spending more of their time engaged with these devices. This makes it difficult for brands and advertisers to keep up with how, what, where, why, and when consumers are 1) conducting research and 2) making purchase decisions.

But the good news for brands and advertisers is, while consumers still tend to spend most of their mobile time online with social media and communications apps, shopping apps (and mobile shopping) are becoming more popular, giving retailers, e-commerce companies, and marketers an opportunity to gain an even deeper understanding of consumer behavior. Verto’s latest data shows that shopping apps now have a 67% mobile reach in the U.S. (among adults ages 18 and above), which means more than two-thirds of all American adults who own mobile devices also use shopping apps.

The Rise of the Cross-Device Shopper

But not all shopping activity takes place on mobile devices. As we demonstrated in our recent webinar, Using Behavioral Measurement Panels & Survey Research to Track Consumer Purchase Journeys, shopping is a cross-device activity: Verto data shows that, while 113 million users per month access shopping websites on their PCs, 123 million users per month access shopping apps on smartphones, and 26 million users per month use shopping apps on tablets.

Finding the Right Way To Measure Path to Purchase

One thing is clear: consumers are increasingly browsing and buying across multiple devices. And with the explosion of digital channels, content, and devices, the consumer path to purchase is becoming even more convoluted. Whether online or offline, shoppers have different needs, habits, and expectations depending on who they are, where they are in the decision-making process, and why they are shopping. Brands and advertisers not only need to make sure they’re asking the right questions, but they also need to measure the right behavioral touchpoints, such as:

  • What are consumers doing online across multiple connected devices?
  • Which advertisements are reaching consumers on multiple connected devices?
  • How are those ads influencing consumers as they conduct research and make purchases?
  • Why are consumers choosing to purchase a particular product?
  • What preferences and biases are consumers exhibiting, and why?

Measuring and tracking shopper behavior is just one part of the puzzle. Brands and advertisers must also understand whyconsumers are behaving the way they do on mobile devices.

What Brands Need to Track and Why: 4 Steps to Getting the Right Data

Verto has identified four measurement methodologies that ensure that brands and advertisers are getting exactly the right data about consumer behaviors along all parts of the path to purchase:

  1. Single-Source Measurement: Track the same segment of users and their usage across every device, app, and platform they use throughout the day to gain a deep understanding of consumer behavior and demographics.
  2. Passive Metering: Provides key contextual information, such as location and screen device size/orientation while the consumer is shopping.
  3. Demographics: This data plays a crucial role in providing a clear picture of your brand’s target buyer.
  4. Integrated Survey Research: Surveys address the “why” behind behavioral actions, and can be used to screen panelists for specific attributes or behaviors prior to survey.

These four measurement methodologies will give brands and advertisers insights they need to make complex and strategic decisions. For example, as we highlight in the example below, online retailers can identify the average number of online stores a consumer visits over the course of a given timeframe, or identify which online retailers have the highest conversion rates. Or diving one level deeper, brands can understand cross-retail patterns within specific demographics, and create precisely targeted campaigns and media-mix models.

The path to purchase is not a straight shot. Without understanding how consumers behave and why, campaign strategy and tactics are at risk of being misaligned, misguided, and ineffective. To piece together the consumer buying journey, brands must identify how cross-device consumers engage with digital channels and what drives their decision-making. Measuring all touchpoints and influences along the path-to-purchase – both online and offline – gives brands the insights to guide where and how to effectively engage with shoppers.

Interested in learning more about Verto Analytics’ methodology for tracking the consumer buying journey? Watch our webinar on-demand, Using Behavioral Measurement Panels & Survey Research to Track Consumer Purchase Journeys.