Consumer choice and the subsequent decision making are crucial to the purchasing process (online and offline) but digital media (and especially Mobile digital media now plays an increasingly important role in buying decisions.

Many buyers visit online first to find information that will inform what they buy, so the web and social media are:

  • a vital part of the research process, as Internet users now spend longer researching products online;
  • used at every stage of the research process from the initial scan to the more detailed comparison and final checking of specifications before purchase.

The result of this change in behaviour means that buyers are more informed, and refer to a multiplicity of sources to find information that will inform their final purchasing decision, e.g. brand websites, social media, review sites, free UK business directory, traditional print media and personal recommendations. Digital sources of information now play a more important role in shaping purchase decisions. So, companies have to think carefully how they can maximise the value of positive comments and reviews and reinforce consumer perceptions through product quality, and service experiences both on and offline.

The implications of this growth in the use of information in digital channels in the selection process means that it is important to ensure that products and services are well-represented in the digital channels used by target customers. The demand for information is likely to continue to intensify with the rise in significance of mobile and social networking channels.

Developing an understanding of the processes involved in customer choice should enable marketers to identify how to tailor services to meet the needs of the customers so that they move to the transaction dimension.

The proportion of Internet users who will purchase different types of products online varies considerably based on the characteristics and demographic profile of the consumers, the product category and the past experiences of the shopper. There have also been many predictions about the development of online retailing and how it might fuel demand for online transactions. Convenience remains the biggest driver for online shoppers. Figure 2.8 shows influences on consumer purchasing made in the UK.

By understanding the dimensions that affect how consumers interact with online trading environments, digital marketers can identify key points where they can seek to manage conversion.