The Online Decision Making Process

Making the choice to buy something online involves a variety of different factors. In this article, we’ll consider a relatively simple model of the online decision making process that covers the basic stages, and offers an brief explanation for them.

1 – Identifying The Need

The first stage in the process is the “identification of a need”. Quite simply, this is the point at which the potential customer realises that they need to purchase a product, or make use of a service.

2 – Information Search

Once the need has been identified by the consumer, the next stage is to conduct an “information search” to find out how the need can be satisfied.

In this digital age, that kind of research is more and more frequently being carried out online, thanks to the ease and convenience of the medium. However, at this stage, 17% of people drop out of the process, 9% because they can’t find or identify the required information, and 8% because of lack of purchase information.

3 – Evaluation Stage

Once the research has been carried out, the evaluation stage begins, with the consumer evaluating the available alternatives to determine which suits them best. This stage of the process can include requesting quotes for comparison, and often involves additional research into the credibility of the Business Providers whose offers are being considered.

However, this is also the stage that sees the greatest lead attrition. Only 25% of the shoppers who began searching for information in the previous stage, reach the end of the evaluation phase.

4 – Purchase Decision

Once the evaluation of alternatives has been carried out, the next step is the “purchase decision,” which sees another 12% loss, as some people decide not to make the purchase.

5 – Purchase Evaluation

The final stage of the decision making process occurs after the actual purchase, and that is the “purchase evaluation” stage. In this stage, the customer assesses whether or not the product or service has met their expectations. This process not only affects whether they will become repeat customers, but also whether they will offer positive or negative advice to other potential customers.

The Customer Sieve

If you’d like more information on online purchasing and the customer sieve, read a slightly expanded explanation with additional factors from a slightly different perspective at User Interface Engineering.