Spielwarenmesse: How to lead customers through the different phases of shopping

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Customer Jounrey


How to lead customers through the different phases of shopping

from Eva Stemmer und Jörg Meister

A customer’s journey to the final purchase may sometimes take a little longer than expected. Online retailing in particular is intensely examining the mechanisms of the Customer Journey and drawing conclusions with the goal to continually improve the search for the right product. It is therefore a good idea to pay attention to the key steps, in order to provide an enticing shopping experience - both online or offline - to your customers.

Tracking methods give online sales and online marketing a more comprehensive and differentiated perspective of what makes customers take the next step on their journey towards the product, compared to their counterpart offers in the traditional, physical realm. Indirect points of contact -- meaning those created by third parties through social media contributions, forums, online magazines and blogs -- are becoming the focal point more and more. 

The 5 Phases of a Customer Journey

  1. Awareness: The customer comes into contact with the product for the first time. Their awareness has been triggered.
  2. Favourability: The customer demonstrates increased interest in the product.
  3. Consideration: The customer evaluates and weighs in on the information obtained.
  4. Intent to Purchase: The customer has the specific intention to make a purchase.
  5. Conversion: The customer buys the product.

Especially in Phase 2 - Favourability - different channels play a role. They can be online or offline. Typical elements of the physical world, such as word of mouth, consultations or product demonstrations go hand in hand with online contacts in the form of evaluation portals, YouTube videos, manufacturer websites and pricing comparisons. The potential customer exploits the opportunity to obtain product information that is as diverse as possible.

However, the diversity of the sources of information provides not only for opportunities, but also for risks. Quite often, prospective customers are over-informed, if not misinformed because of the many conflicting opinions from a variety of sources.

For the next phase (Consideration), it is therefore up to the retailer to rate and weigh in on the information obtained, in order to lead the customer to Phase 4, the Intent to Purchase. This concrete intention to buy may be triggered by newly-found additional information (special offer, hidden features, new understanding, hands-on experience or the like) and ultimately lead to Phase 5, the Conversion.

Online analysis for offline customer experience

To keep up with the analytical advantage that online shops enjoy, the traditional retail trade needs comprehensible, solid bridges into the online world.

According to the Adobe Digital Trends Report 2017, an optimised customer experience provides the most important opportunity for progress of the retail trade, followed by the creation of convincing digital content. Both, the analogue as well as the digital world have their own respective methods to positively impact the customer experience.

The first response is naturally to give customers the feeling of personality and to support them in finding the right product which matches their preferences and wishes. This includes providing offers, alternatives, information by email, digital notices, Facebook feeds, flyers, samples, food sampling, bots and much more.

Personal contact instead of information surplus

But what if everybody who, thanks to web-based analytical tools thinks they understand the customer, does this? Customers are bombarded with offers that trump each other. This naturally also diminishes the feeling of uniqueness or being addressed specifically. A surplus offer, thanks to algorithms, runs the risk of becoming blurred. Because of this, customers seek personal contact.

Consequently, it is not the number of contacts, but the quality that forms the key to success. Accordingly, those interviewed for the Adobe Digital Trends Report 2017 see the greatest potential for the year 2020 in interacting with target groups via Virtual and Augmented Reality, followed by interconnecting digital devices (mobile devices, computers, wearables, beacons, ...).

Interconnecting devices and touchpoints in the digital world or visiting a shop physically or a mailing campaign in the analogue world are one thing; direct human contact another.

Important points of contact during the Customer Journey

Consistent communication and a harmonious presentation in a digital context as well as on location are prerequisites for conveying a high recognition value and positive feeling to customers.

But to play all channels simultaneously in the hope of being able to lead customers on every single point of their journey is impossible, especially for smaller retailers. Which and how many channels you as a retailer play is a matter of authenticity and your customers’ range of movement. Quite often, co-operations and affiliations are profit-making factors.

  • Join forces with, for example manufacturers by using their advertising materials on your pages or hyperlinking your offer or co-using platforms.
  • Think about how best to use synergies on site: Are there associations, events, other companies with which you can co-offer online and offline contact points?
  • Be present at events. Liaise. Be authentic about how you want to be perceived.
  • Turn your customers into satisfied customers. Use your advantages as a retailer with a personality that can offer direct contact.

Because, after all, the online world has one major crux: It makes it easy for customers to source alternative offers. Generally speaking, loyalty is not infinite. Therefore, if you lose a customer online and if you cannot compensate for this loss with your personality, you will most likely never see the customer again.

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