Mapping customer journeys in multichannel decision-making
This study is focused on multi-channel shopping, which refers to the integration of various channels in the consumer decision-making process. The term was coined in the early 2000s to signify the integration of offline and online shopping channels. It has since evolved to encompass the proliferating number of channels and media used to formulate, evaluate and execute buying decisions. With the explosion of mobile technologies and social media, multi-channel shopping has indeed become a journey in which customers choose the route they take and which, arguably, needs to be mapped to be understood. Existing consumer decision-making models were developed in pre-internet days and have remained for the most part unquestioned in the digital marketing discourse. Darley, Blankson and Luethge concluded that there is a 'paucity of research on the impact of online environments on decision making', which has also been observed in the multi-channel context. Our study adopts an inductive approach allowing for realistic patterns to emerge of how consumers use and react to different media and channels in their shopping journeys for cosmetics. It therefore provides a threefold contribution: (1) it systematizes what are widely used yet largely misunderstood practices (ZMOT, webrooming and showrooming); (2) it defines the key multi-channel influences across different stages of decision making; and (3) it segments actual customer journeys into three distinct patterns that brands can use to optimize their multi-channel strategies.