What are micro-moments?

They’re happening all day, every day. To you, to your customers, your family, and friends. At home, at work, at school, on the bus, and everywhere in-between. Google defines micro-moment as “an intent-rich moment when a person turns to a device to act on a need – to know, go, do, or buy.

Imagine you’re planning a vacation. From the first time you decide you’re going to head out of town until the time you arrive safely back home, there will be hundreds of micro-moments when you turn to a device – a phone, tablet, or computer – to fulfill a need or desire:

Want-to-know Want-to-go Want-to-do Want-to-buy
Search for “What are the best vacation destinations for families?”

Search for “What’s the best resort in Waikiki?”

Read reviews for a few resorts in Hawaii

Search for “Best acai bowls on Oahu.”

Look at the map to find the closest 24-hour grocery store

Read reviews of nearby breakfast restaurants

Watch a video about what to pack for a Hawaii vacation

Seek inspiration for what to wear to Hawaii in February

Read articles about how to snorkel

Purchase new luggage

Order new bathing suits and reef-safe sunscreen

Download some apps to entertain the kids on the flight

What do micro-moments mean for retailers?

We live in the age of instant everything. The internet and, more recently, mobile have dramatically altered the course of the shopper journey. Shoppers have become accustomed to self-service research, discovery, and purchasing. They have access to a world of information at their fingertips, and their expectations for instant gratification have skyrocketed.

For retailers, this presents both a challenge and an opportunity. The world of retailing has become exponentially more complex and competitive. At the same time, there are new channels and tools to connect with customers in increasingly meaningful ways. The retailers who adapt the fastest to these changes are the ones who will succeed.

How can retailers make the most of micro-moments?

Want-to-buy Is Important, But So Is The Rest

As a retailer, it’s natural to focus on the want-to-buy micro-moments, and, yes, it’s essential that the actual purchase and transaction process be as simple and efficient as possible. However, the modern customer journey often begins far before the actual checkout. Customers want to research purchases, read reviews and learn more about brands and products before they decide to make a purchase – either in-store or online. Whereas these steps could be seen as delaying the sale, they are, in fact, quite the opposite: customers who shop both online and in-store are 8X more valuable than those who shop in a single channel.

Awaken Hidden Desires With Inspiration

Your online presence should be more than just a digital catalog. Inspiration is often an important part of the path to purchase. Whether you sell fashion apparel, home décor, or jewelry, an aspirational picture or inspiring video showing the products in use can be an important selling tool. It’s not just about outfitting mannequins in shop windows anymore: social media, like Instagram and Pinterest, can be important tools to drive traffic and conversions for your brand – both online and offline.

Build a Community

Ratings and reviews are such an important part of the decision to purchase today. Make honest ratings and reviews available on your e-commerce site so that customers don’t need to leave to do their research. Many sites have even started integrated multimedia in their reviews so that people can see pictures that haven’t been retouched. In the case of apparel, it’s helpful to see pictures of products on real people so that shoppers have a better sense of the cut and drape of the garment. You can also build a community with well-moderated social media properties, and even mix the two worlds by integrating social to your website. Some retailers have done this successfully with Instagram posts right on their main website.

Be There

No matter the reason driving the micro-moment, it’s important that when the shopper sets out to fulfill the need, they find you and not your competitor! Stay top of mind with engaging, personal marketing strategies so that they search for your brand first. But don’t stop there: 9 in 10 smartphone users say that they aren’t sure what brand they want to buy from when they start shopping. If that doesn’t happen, then ensure that you’re making the most of your SEO strategies so that they find you when they search for the products you offer. Modern e-commerce systems now have built-in SEO tools that will help you get found at those key micro-moments when potential customers are searching for your products.

Here’s a small sampling of some of the technical elements that you need to ensure your e-commerce platform handles out-of-the-box for effective search engine optimization:

  • Customizable URLs for every product, category, or content page
  • Automatic canonical tags depending on URL variations
  • Single H1 tag per page and proper HTML semantics overall
  • Easy WYSIWYG editors for overriding meta tags
  • Rich snippets that allow you to display pricing information, review stars, and more, directly in the Google search results
  • Social media tags, such as Facebook open graph, Twitter product cards, Pinterest rich pins, and more, to ensure that key information such as the price and description follow when your customers share products on social media
  • XML Sitemaps that makes it easier for search bots to find all of your products and categories
  • Multilingual metadata is also important if you run stores in multiple countries

Another way to be present at key micro-moments is to ensure that customer service from real people is easy to reach at all hours. Shoppers want to be able to reach customer service by live chat, phone, Facebook Messenger, Twitter… wherever they happen to land. If they can’t find the answers to their questions quickly and easily, they may end up turning elsewhere to complete their purchase.


Convenience is so important to the modern shopper. We’re used to getting everything instantly, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that attention spans are shorter than ever. It’s critical that retailers remove barriers to shopping by ensuring that websites run fast across all devices and browsers. Consider this: If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1-second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year. Ensure that your search tools allow customers to locate what they’re looking for quickly and efficiently. Checkout should be a pain-free process. Provide an option to check out as a guest, for example, and then register later. Ensure that your checkout also has an option to persist across devices: more than half of all consumers start shopping on one device but continue or finish on a different one.


Another technique for making the most of micro-moments is deep personalization. Offer a curated shopping experience that delivers personalized recommendations based on consumers’ likes and their online and offline shopping behaviors to seize the opportunity to sell whenever it presents itself. Anticipate the customer’s needs and wants before they realize they need to make a purchase to make the path to purchase completely frictionless and personal.

Related Resources

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