Understanding Buyer Intent in a Period of Inflation

As we experience a period of inflation, understanding buyer intent has never been more important. With customers buying less and more brands using an omnichannel strategy, you need to take steps to become the go-to resource. This makes it less likely you’ll experience decreased sales volume. Here we look at buyer intent in a period of inflation and how you can use it to become more predictive and responsive.

1. What do we mean by buyer intent?

To understand buyer intent, you have to understand the two main types of buyers:

  1. Active buyers: These buyers are actively searching for a product to resolve a problem or satisfy a need. They are easier to spot because they are searching the internet for something specific.
  2. Passive buyers: These buyers have a problem but don’t know it. They stumble upon solutions and only then realize they need them. While these buyers are more likely to make a split decision to buy, they are harder to spot.

Buyer intent, therefore, is either passive or active, with common indicators used to identify each buyer. Navigating inflation calls for metrics that help identify buyer intent so you can leverage the data to better meet customer needs.

2. Recognizing the signs of a potential customer

There are a few obvious signs someone is a potential customer:

  • Website visits: Most people don’t visit an e-commerce website without intent to make a purchase either now because they saw an ad, thought that sounds good, and clicked to make a purchase, or they are actively seeking a product. Frequent visits are more typical of an active buyer who wants to confirm they want your product, while a passive buyer is more likely to visit once and decide to purchase or leave.
  • Clicks: The links someone clicks tell you where their interests lie and offer clues about how serious they are about a purchase. Random clicks are more like browsing, while clicks to find out about your policies or to look deep into things like specs, your sizing charts, or delivery times might indicate someone is more serious. Tools such as heat maps provide insights into hotspots on your site, while clicks and page views tell you what products and information someone is seeking.
  • Duration of time on page: The longer someone spends on the page, the more interested they are.

Paying attention to these behaviors and using metrics enables you to predict the next steps and help reduce the number of steps it takes to make a purchase.

3. Meet customers early in their journey

Once you spot the signs, you can provide information to help guide a buyer on their journey. For example, if they are checking out a few items in the same category, you can use the “people also viewed” method to draw their attention to the items they are most likely to appreciate. This can help narrow down their choices so they can move items into their shopping cart. If someone is already placing items in their shopping cart, this is your chance to provide the “people also purchased” message to encourage them to include complementary products.

For example, if someone is buying nail polish, they might need a nail file and polish remover, while someone who purchases a hat might also like a matching pair of gloves. You can use these cues to subtly point them to their purchase or to help increase their average order value. The earlier you meet them on their journey, the more enjoyable and easier you make their experience.

4. Leveraging product data to understand buyer intent

An excellent way to understand buyer intent without investing in expensive buyer intent data tools is to use your PIM. When your product data is readily accessible and automated, it’s much easier to detect when a customer is looking. For example, if someone is looking for ‘comfortable maroon shoes,’ optimized product information will point that person to your store. Enriched content capabilities of a PIM enable you to optimize your attributes to be more detectable for search engines.

You can also ensure all your pages are enriched with the right keywords to reach the top ranking and improve product discovery at the earliest stage. You then have rich, relevant information to streamline the discovery process with high-quality images and detailed descriptions, features, and specs, so customers are confident in their purchases. For repeat visits, you can help customers feel spoken to by showing them the information they need so they trust you and are willing to spend even when money is tight.