In this fact sheet we will mainly talk about the B2C (Business to Consumer) Act of Purchase. Read our fact sheet on the B2B buying act here.
B2C Purchasing Act
Definition of the B2C purchasing Act
The B2C Purchasing Act is one of the five stages of a consumer’s decision-making process. After a consumers’ need recognition (perception of a discrepancy between a desired state and a felt state), the consumer seeks information (internal, i.e. in their memory, and external search).
After evaluating the different possibilities, a consumer will, then, proceed to the act of purchase itself. Following the act of purchase, such consumer will evaluate the consequences of their decision and will proceed to communicate the respective opinions to those around him, on social networks or directly to the seller.
The actual purchase is very much dependent on the attitudes developed by the consumer towards the brands as a result of the previous phase (evaluation of possibilities). The brand with the most favourable attitude has the highest probability of being purchased, although the decision may still be affected by various factors, such as the consumer’s awareness that the price is too high for the budget, the lack of confidence in his or her judgement, or the pressure of social norms of reference.
The limitations of theoretical approaches to the Act of purchase in B2C
The realization of an intention to purchase a brand presupposes the availability of this brand in the chosen point of sale / e-commerce site. In this respect, it is worth noting first the parallelism that can be established between the process of choosing a brand and the process of choosing a sales outlet / e-commerce site.
It should then be borne in mind that the most favourably evaluated brand may not be available in the chosen outlet (or may not be in stock on the chosen e-commerce site). The consumer may then choose another brand among those available.
More generally, many other characteristics of the point of sale are likely to have an influence on the purchase, such as the advertising with which the purchaser has been confronted, the sales staff (or the devices for answering questions online beforehand, such as chat or click to call), the physical contact with the product (or the possibilities for zooming in or for a 360° view of the product offered by the product sheet) or the atmosphere of the shop (the ergonomics of the e-commerce site, the quality of the e-merchandising).
Finally, it should be noted that the assumption implicit in the majority of models, namely the formation of a preference for a brand and then the search for a point of sale / e-commerce site to find this brand, is excessively reductive. A different view of the place of outlet/e-commerce site choice in consumer behaviour leads to an emphasis on the fact that an important part of the consumer’s decision process may take place within the outlet or e-commerce site.
As such, 4 buyer profiles can be distinguished (according to the fourth edition of the Mappy / BVA barometer dedicated to Web-to-Store and published in September 2017) :
- “Full Web” shopper: the consumer researches online and buys online (96%)
- “Full Store” shopper: the consumer conducts research in shop and buys in shop (65%)
- “Showroomer” shopper: the consumer takes his information in shop and then buys on the Internet (60%)
- “ROPO” (Research Online Purchase Offline) shopper: the consumer gets information online before buying in shop (93%)
B2C trends and innovations
According to a survey OpinionWay carried out for Trusted Shop in 2016, the French find out about the product or service they want before making purchases on the web.
91% say they read feedback posted on the internet by other internet users. Of these review readers, 93% recognise their influence. More than half of them (55%) consider this influence to be important in the act of buying.
Furthermore, when shopping at the point of sale, consumers have high expectations in terms of customer experience. Waiting too long at the checkout can lead to purchase abandonment. Contactless payment, automatic checkouts or scanning of purchases in the aisles can reduce this waiting time. Drive-throughs and click & collect also aim to facilitate the act of purchasing.
Tools and methods related to Act of Purchase in B2C
Several types of studies, known as “shopper studies”, can be carried out to qualitatively study consumer behaviour in shops. Individual face-to-face interviews consist of questioning the consumer when they enter the shop to find out their purchasing intentions. They are then interviewed when they leave the shop to find out what they have purchased. We then try to analyse any discrepancies.
Consumer behaviour can also be analysed on the shelf. In this case, the aim is to analyse in greater detail the purchasing process for a given product or product range.
If we look only at the consumer’s journey through the point of sale, multiple technologies now make it possible to better understand customers and their purchasing behaviour. Wi-Fi, 3G/4G and beacons are all new tools that allow very precise tracking. However, there is a limit to the use of beacons: the customer must first have downloaded the shop’s application onto his or her smartphone, the Bluetooth must be open and the customer must agree to receive notifications from the application.