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Purchase process is iterative, you savvy!

If shopping online wasn’t cumbersome enough already, we’ve also gone ahead and made the most boring part of it the longest. It turns out that it takes 5.08 steps on average for a shopper to just check-out a product and that does not even account for the number of clicks and other steps it takes to first get to the check-out phase.

I can, on the other hand, imagine why we end up with abominations such as a long purchase process. It is called over-simplifying it to fit it in a simple quantitative model. That results in the process being modeled as a sequential flow, starting from finding the product to paying for it, keeping everyone happy with their funnel. In reality, the purchase process is anything but sequential.

The Iterative Purchase Process

While a sequential process would assume that the visitors find the product of his/her interest in one sequential step after another, in reality, it takes a couple of iterations.

It starts with a user searching for a product using the first query that comes to his/her mind. Then, when the results are presented, he either finds what he’s looking for or he does not.  If he does find the product of interest, he’s off paying for it. If he does not, he’s going to try changing his search query or refine his search query and search again. He’ll refine as many times as his patience allows him to. It is this possibility of search refinement that changes the dynamics into an iterative process.

However, the real question to ask is, why does the search engine not present the product he was looking for in the first step itself? That, my friends, is a topic for another day.

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