Much has been written on the dramatic changes in the path to purchase over the last several years. Digital is powering the consumer’s ability to get on-demand research and forever altering the 100 year old purchase funnel. What was once a funnel has evolved to more of a sphere of purchase influence. Through digital, shoppers now have access to real-time price comparisons, peer reviews, and data that was previously only available in the physical store. Consumers have the ability to interact and engage with brands during any point along the path to purchase, and at any time.

A year ago everyone was writing about the showrooming phenomenon: Where consumers do their research and consideration in a store, then buy online. Today, we’re also back to talking about ROBO shopping (research online, buy offline), also called reverse showrooming. The time is now for brands to reassess their digital strategy and ensure engagement of consumers in the consideration phase… before they buy.

Don’t neglect consideration

Have media plans caught up to this new digital sphere of influence? Marketers and agencies were quick to utilize digital media as a tool for capturing top of the funnel brand awareness. While much attention is given to the bottom of the funnel in ecommerce, are we forgetting about “eConsideration”?

Brands are missing the opportunity to engage with customers during the critical moments when they are in the purchase mindset. No longer isolated in the middle of that ancient funnel, the challenge for marketers is that consideration is always taking place. The digital information that shapes those decisions is always available and on-demand, via mobile.

Digital retail delivers eConsideration as well as ecommerce

As discussed in our recent study with Wakefield, retail sites are the most widely used product research destination for shoppers. Digital retail sites are more than just locations for bottom-of-the-funnel transactions; they are where consumers are researching and considering purchases. A study from eMarketer found that ecommerce sales may account for about 6% of total retail sales in the US, but they influence a much higher percentage. It makes sense that the vast majority of visitors to retail sites are not making a transaction. They are researching offline purchases.

Information context matters

WHERE consumers view information continues to be an issue in online advertising. Environment and context matter. Even if a brand can avoid an ad placement on a questionable site, there is always the risk of a less-than contextually relevant placement on even the most credible web property. Adjacency to a sensitive story on a news site could hinder the effectiveness of a brand’s message. Sports, entertainment, and other content sets are usually safe, but are they actually relevant for shoppers? Is the person checking out the score or movie review always in the proper mindset to consider your brands message?

Shoppers are 20% more likely to interact with an ad on a retail website. Shoppers on digital retail sites are already in the shopping mindset and more receptive to any type of product messaging. It makes sense that digital retail is an environment ripe for advertisers.

Ad placement on digital retail sites allows advertisers to capitalize on shoppers already in th consideration phase. Digital retail provides an opportunity for advertisers to target someone in the most contextually relevant environment available to a brand. While digital has changed the path to purchase, it’s time for brand advertising to follow. Digital retail offers a safe and effective vehicle for brands to travel these new routes of consumer engagement.