September 2/9 2013; Volume 27/number 10
By Lisbeth Calandrino
With technology changing almost daily, many retailers are not sure what to do next. In today’s hyper-competitive retail environment, marketers have to contend for your customers’ attention both online and off. Marketers have coined the term “zero moment of truth” or “ZMOT” to describe this new reality.
This is where customers go and begin a discovery process about the products they want to purchase long before they make their purchases at your store. Jim Leciski, a chief ZMOT evangelist, who wrote the book Winning the Zero Moments of Truth, calls ZMOT the “new mental model” of modern marketing.
In retail, we used to talk about the customer’s moment of truth. This is the time when the customer (who was in your place of business) actually made a buying decision with a salesperson right on the showroom floor. There was a time when products were few and information was scarce. The customer had to rely on the salesperson or storeowner to show her products and provide expertise.
According to Google surveys, 88% of the consumer’s research is done before she buys, consulting an average of 10.4 sources. By the time your customer is ready to make an actual purchase, she is extremely knowledgeable and has already consulted online resources and talked with one or two of your competitors. This new consumer behavior has left many retailers in a quandary, asking, “How do I intervene and fit into this process?” Consumers are aware that the way you’ve approached them for years is no longer viable.
Consumers can now obtain significant information they need about installations, pricing, flooring durability and warranties without talking with a salesperson. It’s not that the salesperson isn’t important to the sale, but his job has changed. The salesperson still holds the keys to the one thing that your customer can’t get online: product samples.
“If we’re going to be successful, we have to realize where the salesperson fits into today’s buying cycle and what empowers the salesperson, helping him provide customers with important information after they leave the showroom,” said Craig K. Hill, executive director, Marketing Wiz. “Unless retailers change, they will become casualties of the technology revolution. My suggestion would be they hire someone who understands the old retail as well as the new technology.”
Instead of wasting time making decisions in the store, consumers are making decisions at home and online before they purchase in person. Most of us realize that when confronted with too many choices, we just freeze. In fact, we may not buy anything because we’re overwhelmed and can’t decide. This is one of the reasons why consumers are increasingly using their smart phones or doing Internet searches. The Internet takes less time and takes away the confusion of overwhelming products and too many places to shop. Why spend time rummaging through a store when they can do it faster from a mobile device? The challenge for the retailers is to spend time understanding the new process and how they can leverage it.
Our old model used to be build a great product, market it well and then the customer will want to buy it. Now you have to know what happens to the customer when she looks at your products online. Then, you have to know where she goes next and how you connect with her.
Now there is a new question: How do you get yourself heard over the roar of the Internet?