Why You Should Be Analyzing the Point of Sale in the
Customer Journey

By John Pasinski, March 21, 2018

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People typically go through a journey before purchasing a product or service, which may include several stages. They become passively aware of options, actively do research, talk with friends and family members, evaluate their options, and then visit retailers or shop online. After the purchase, they engage with the product or service. Eventually, they may repeat the purchase again.


One of the most critical points of this journey is the point of sale or, as we call it, the point of decision. This critical point is the moment right before the customer selects one of the alternatives they are considering. It can be the difference between converting the sale or losing out to an alternative. Here are some examples of the types of things that may happen at the point of decision that may tip the scales one way or another:

  • The customer compares pricing. The customer may learn about discounts or other promotional activities which may sway them to select the more affordable alternative.
  • The customer learns information by experiencing the packaging. This very tangible experience may sway the customer one way or another.
  • The person navigates the store. Some products may be highlighted to a greater extent than others, and so their accessibility becomes a strength.
  • The buyer interacts with salespeople. The buyer may get recommendations from a salesperson that persuade them to pick one option over another.
  • The end user sees reviews. If the end user has a mobile device, they may see the reviews for a product or service before choosing it. A favorable or unfavorable review may convince them to move forward with a certain option or to choose against it.

As made clear from these examples, the point of decision can make or break the sale. The execution of effective marketing and branding may help the customer along their journey. However, if the buyer is not adequately enticed to follow through at the point of decision, then it is all for naught.
Marketers, brand managers, strategists, and other decision makers face the challenge of identifying the proper balance of activity and investment to help the customer along their journey and convert sales at the point of decision. It is difficult to compare general marketing activity with point of decision tactics because these dynamics have differences:

1. The dynamics operate at different speeds. A generic marketing campaign may simmer in the mind of a customer for weeks, months, or even years. Point of sale dynamics typically happen within minutes, or even seconds. Learning about new information in the store or just before buying online tends to happen so rapidly that there is little room for error or course correction.


2. The audience is different. Many marketing activities may have broad reach and deliver impressions across the customer’s journey. Point of sale tactics only hit a very specific subset of people – those who are about to make a choice. For categories with longer decision cycles, this subset may represent just a few percent or less than the total percentage of the general population in a given week.


3. The impacts are different. Many marketing tactics are designed to build up awareness or consideration. They may influence perceptions for certain factors as well. Point of sale dynamics usually move perceptions on factors related to price, packaging, or availability. Point of sale dynamics typically do not have as strong of an impact on brands.

To help our users better replicate these real-world dynamics, our platform Concentric Market® incorporates point of decision as an input.  This input allows our users to more precisely define which attributes are impacted at the point of decision and how quickly these changes happen.  Our model then simulates how the point of decision impacts people who are right about to make a choice between alternatives. This input helps our users to more easily and accurately evaluate the impacts of pricing promotions, in-store experiences, sales associate recommendations, online reviews, and other factors that sway customers at the time of purchase.
Point of decision is just one more feature that makes Concentric Market® the most comprehensive way to understand the impact of strategies on both short-term outcomes and long-term brand metrics. Marketing impacts people in different ways and at different points in their journey. Capturing this real-world truth explicitly gives our users a powerful aid in formulating their marketing and product strategies.