We have a little quiz for you. What do we call the process that begins from the moment a potential customer finds out about your ecommerce business, and follows them all the way through to post-purchase engagement and advocacy? Which process includes every single step of the experience, and can take your brand to the next level when it comes to loyalty and revenue? And which process is crucial to you understanding needs so that you can anticipate them and provide the best service possible?
The answer to all of these questions is the same: the ecommerce customer journey.
It’s a process that begins from the moment a potential buyer finds out about your business and follows them through to post-purchase engagement and loyalty. The ecommerce user journey includes all of the steps taken while interacting with your brand, from initial discovery to purchase and beyond.
It is important for businesses to be aware of their customers’ journey in order to understand their needs and expectations, and create a better experience. Improving yours can help you increase conversions, boost sales, and develop stronger relationships. And as global ecommerce sales are project to reach $6.3 trillion in 2023 (and $8.1 trillion by 2026), there is profit to be made in this area, and fast.
When someone purchases products online, they’re making an emotional investment. They want to be sure that their money is going towards a good product and that the company they are buying from will provide them with a positive experience.
The ecommerce customer journey can help you identify areas of friction or dissatisfaction in your process, so you can take steps to address them. By understanding where customers are in their experience, you can provide a more tailored pathway for everyone, which helps to increase sales and build loyalty.
The rise of ecommerce has been unprecedented. Over the last decade, the global industry has grown exponentially. This growth is driven in part by technological advancements, making it easier than ever before to shop online from the comfort of your own home.
Alongside this, businesses have adopted new strategies to better serve customers, such as personalization and improved service. This has helped to make ecommerce an increasingly popular and efficient way of shopping, with more people than ever relying on it to purchase everyday items. As a result, the development of a successful ecommerce customer journey is becoming essential for any business looking to stay ahead in this increasingly competitive industry.
Before we get into the various stages of the ecommerce user journey and how they can be improved, it’s important to understand two key areas: customer touchpoints and journey mapping.
Touchpoints are the points of contact between a business and its users. They play an important role in creating positive experiences, as they provide an opportunity to engage and build relationships. Touchpoints occur at every stage of the ecommerce customer journey, from discovering the product all the way through advocacy and beyond.
Whether it’s website content, service interactions, emails, or advertisements, by focusing on creating a great impression throughout these touchpoints, you can nurture lasting relationships and drive loyalty to your business.
Examples of touchpoints include:
Mapping the ecommerce user journey is all about efficiency and optimization. With more data, a clear overview of all touchpoints and processes, and a tailored way of working for each interaction, you can better see what people are getting from your brand at every stage and how they’re responding to your service.
To build an ecommerce user journey map, you should start by gathering data on how customers interact with your website or app. This could include tracking user behavior through analytics tools, conducting surveys and interviews, and observing interactions in support channels. Once you have collected this data, you should analyze it to gain insights into needs and preferences.
Once you have a better understanding, you can create a map that outlines the stages. This could include the initial awareness stage, consideration, decision, buying experience, loyalty, and repeat purchase stages, outlined above. Your map should include details such as key touchpoints, customer motivations, and any potential points of friction.
Creating an ecommerce customer journey map is a great way to gain insights into your customers’ needs and preferences, as well as identify opportunities for improvement. With this information, you can create a more personalized experience that encourages conversion and loyalty.
Finally, it’s important to monitor this on an ongoing basis in order to track any changes over time. Regularly reviewing analytics data and feedback will help you identify areas of improvement and ensure you’re meeting needs. With the right approach, you can create an optimized flow that helps your business stand out from the competition.
This involves creating a visual representation of each step, from discovery to post-purchase engagement. By mapping out each stage and noting any potential areas of friction or dissatisfaction, businesses can gain valuable insight into where improvements could be made. Process mapping can also help businesses spot opportunities for personalization and provide better service, helping to create a more positive and engaging experience. Ultimately, this could lead to higher conversion rates and increased sales.
Optimizing the ecommerce user journey is important for a number of reasons. It can help businesses reduce friction, leading to increased sales and conversion rates. A streamlined user journey can also save time and money by cutting down on manual tasks such as support and training. Brands struggle with optimizing their CX, with 29.6% citing an unclear customer journey strategy as the reason why.
This could take many forms. It might be as simple as reducing wait times spent on the phone when your users call you for help, or implementing self-service options on your website so that they have easy access to information. It could be discovering that inquiries tend to follow a similar pattern or related issues, which might be efficiently resolved by implementing a bot. Whatever the challenge, with a dedicated outsourcing partner providing expertise, like our CX Advisory team, you can be sure there’s a better way.
Just like in any great story, there tends to be a beginning, middle, and end for every individual who participates in it. From the moment they set out to discover something for themselves, all the way through to becoming an avid fan of a product or service, there are a series of key steps, each of which can be mapped, analyzed, tailored, and optimized, all to provide the best possible experience from start to finish.
This is the initial stage in which customers become aware of a product or service. They may come across it through online advertising, search engines, social media or other channels. At this point, they haven’t yet discovered your brand and its values, and they likely have never actually purchased a product or a service from you.
During the Awareness phase, reach, targeting, and influence is crucial. Trying to make it so that when your users need something you offer, you’re the first though that they have. And considering that 92% of people don't go past the first page in Google, this is a surefire way to reach your audience. A robust digital marketing strategy, coupled with knowing who you’re trying to attract and an effective brand presence, can be the difference between you and your competitors.
Improving the awareness stage of the ecommerce user journey is essential for businesses that want to increase acquisition.
Some tips for improving this stage include:
Now a customer is aware of your brand, they will begin to consider whether they should purchase the product or service. They may research online reviews and compare it to similar offerings from competitors. They may look into your business’ values, ethics, and how easy it is to get what they need - flexible payment and delivery options, for example.
Here’s the time when you can create specific funnels and differentiate between a new buyer or a repeat one. You’re trying to persuade the user that what you have to offer is not just the best on the market - it’s the best choice for them.
Tips for improving this stage include:
They’ve read about your products and / or services, they like what they’re seeing, and they’re ready to make a decision. Once they have decided to purchase, users will add the item to their shopping cart and proceed with checkout.
What can you do to ensure that they go through with it as you hope? Make it as easy, enjoyable, and painless as possible to click that final ‘order now’ button. The average cart abandonment rate is 69.82%, according to the Baymard Institute, so you should be focusing on reducing that percentage to be as low as it can.
Improving the decision stage involves creating a streamlined selection process that encourages people to begin their purchases.
Other tips include:
This stage is a particularly interesting one, as it partially begins at the moment of ordering a product or service, and continues through until the order is realised. That covers payments, data security, delivery, opening the parcel, and resolving any issues that may come up along the way.
At this point, you may have to coordinate with external vendors to ensure that everything from payment verification and data security to parcel delivery timing is as was advertised. And forget seamless - it should feel fun and enjoyable, relishing in the anticipation as consumers wait for what they’ve invested in.
Some ways that you can improve the buying experience include:
Now that your users have received their order, they’ve had time to check every inch of the product or analyze their impressions from the service they’ve used, it’s time to get to work on ensuring that they love what they’ve invested in. They might take this opportunity to provide you with feedback through a review or rating, or they’ll talk to their loved ones and colleagues abour your brand and their experience.
At the loyalty stage, you have the opportunity to turn customers into advocates for your business and your offering. Just one highly positive experience has the potential to create an ambassador for life, so don’t underestimate the lifetime value of any individual.
Tips for improving this stage include:
You’ve advertised your business well, gained some revenue, and won the hearts of a few new customers - or many. Now they want to buy from you again, and it’s not enough to offer them the same thing they saw before. It’s an opportunity to do something a little different and make them see the value in coming back for more each time.
There are a variety of strategies you can employ to make this a reality, and it all depends on what you’re offering and what your user base’s needs and expectations are. This could be anything from subscriptions offers to email marketing campaigns.
Tips for improving this stage include:
Throughout all of these stages, chances are that most interactions with will happen via mobile, an app, on a website, or some other digital channel. That’s why it’s vital that your online presence showcases a clear and smooth path from each stage to the next. A great example is website optimization.
Say your website loads quickly, with no errors or issues, and the content clearly states what your offers and prices are. Every page is easy to navigate to, and there are even FAQs or support teams ready to help answer any questions they may have. That kind of website would definitely make someone more comfortable with making a purchase - when made so easy, so is the choice.
On the other hand, if your site loads slowly, is unnecessarily complex, has too many forms or redirects and a lack of information, it doesn’t make for an appealing start to the ecommerce customer journey. Your visitors might opt to close the tab or bounce to something else, which means a missed opportunity for you, empty traffic, and a dissatisfied visitor who is unlikely to search you out again. A poor website may also cause concerns in terms of security and efficiency, as a visitor may feel that if the interface is lacking, so will the brand’s service and offering.
That’s why an excellent and refined online presence is key, both in website design and UI, as well as any apps, offers, email marketing, payment options, or other touchpoints with your client.