The Omnichannel Consumer: Today’s Asymmetrical Path-to-Purchase

What comes to mind when you hear the word “funnel?” You are probably thinking about a sales funnel right now, with symmetrical sides that narrow down a path-to-purchase—to your product, no less.

Reality check. It’s time to rejigger built-in conventional frameworks for the consumer journey to purchase. In the home improvement category, our research shows that 64 percent of self-defined DIYers have researched online and considered buying before closing out the screen and visiting the store. The sales funnel as we used to know it is being phased out.

The explosion of smartphone penetration has exacerbated the blurring of lines between in-store and out-of-store shopping. Shoppers jump back-and-forth between consideration and choice. They are increasingly channel-agnostic. Welcome to the omnichannel environment, where the product information, purchase influencers, and multiple channel buying options encompass consumers, giving them more power and control than ever.

The result? Too many marketing and sales managers are flat-footed at the moment. Without recent, primary research and data-backed insights of the target consumer’s buying behavior, no manager should feel confident applying conventional business wisdom to the sales and marketing mix.

The new reality is demonstrated in the home center category. Recent research by Sales Factory + Woodbine (SFW) of the non-professional DIY segment substantiates behaviors of “webrooming” (shopping a product online before purchasing in-store) and “showrooming” (shopping in-store, then buying online). The higher the product price, the more likely these shoppers are to begin online. The study of DIYers indicates 72 percent of purchases of $1,000 or more involved online interfacing, with most of the activity consisting of webrooming. For product managers and retailers, creating transactional options and seeding informational content to drive purchases throughout the utilized channels is imperative.

The Home Depot is arguably leading home centers on upping their omnichannel game. The retailer’s most recent earnings report shows nearly half of its e-commerce sales are comprised of its year-old Buy Online Ship to Store (BOSS) program. And comparable online sales now account for a full additional point of the company’s overall sales, from 3.1% to 4.2% (Q1 2014 vs. prior-year comps).

As an omnichannel marketing agency, SFW is tapped into the rapid shifts that inform where marketing dollars and sales efforts should be placed. We are committed to driving our clients to frame their thinking around the omnichannel environment. It is the most effective way to optimize investment and to draw a path-to-purchase that best aligns a brand to the target consumer.