When developing your website did you consider the importance of your ecommerce customer journey?
We all do so much online these days, and that includes our shopping.
From buying food to fashion items to holidays, the way we shop has dramatically changed over recent years.
But for your ecommerce website to be successful, it needs to optimise the customer journey and provide an engaging experience. There are so many other websites that customers could be spending their time on, that you need to give them a reason to stay on yours.
That ‘back’ button is all too tempting, so you need to sustain customer attention so that they complete their purchase.
This can be very tricky, especially in the modern day as consumers have very short attention spans. Therefore, they can easily leave something abandoned in their cart for days, or even weeks. We’re all guilty of it!
That’s why it’s essential you not only capture their attention but also maintain their focus before they end up leaving your site.
So how can you ensure this happens?
Fortunately we’re covering it all for you in this blog post! We’ll explore exactly what ecommerce websites are and how you can start optimising your customer journey to sell more stuff.
Let the sales roll in!
What is the Ecommerce Customer Journey?
The ecommerce customer journey refers to the different stages of your customer’s experience when they come into contact with your business.
This starts from the moment they first become aware of your products right the way through to the moment they complete a purchase. As you can imagine, lots of things can get in the way between a customer finding your product and actually buying it.
As we’ve touched on, they could get distracted, forget about it, or find one of your competitors instead. That’s why it’s up to you to deliver a smooth online experience that encourages your customers to stay on your site.
You need to guide them through the process. Think of this like an encouraging helping hand.
If you’ve ever been into a shop you would have encountered the ‘persuasiveness’ of the shopping assistants.
For instance, you’re in Newlook holding up a new top in the mirror to see if it suits you, and BOOM their straight over telling you it compliments your skin colour. Or, you’re sitting in a brand new Audi in a car showroom and the sales guy is telling you how good you look and that you just ‘have’ to buy it.
This is how in-person sales happen as people are physically there to encourage you to buy. However, in the online space, it’s a little different. Because it’s all happening online, you can’t give them that much needed word of encouragement. As a result, you need to understand the ecommerce customer journey so that you can convert prospects into sales.
Why is the Ecommerce Customer Journey Important?
Your customers will decide whether or not they want to buy things from you based on the experience they have on your website.
There are lots of times when I’ve gone onto a website to buy something and clicked straight back off because it provided such a terrible user experience.
From taking ages to load to being a headache to navigate, I was disengaged before I’d even browsed their range of products. Both of these things are a recipe for disaster when you’re trying to encourage visitors to stay on your site and part with their money.
“Experiences are more important than products now. In fact, experiences are products.” – Shopify
It helps to visualise customer interactions as a ‘journey’ which comprises separate stages. This helps you identify what they might be looking for and needing at different times, so that you can fulfill consumer demand.
What are the 5 Stages of the Ecommerce Customer Journey?
You need to understand that the customer journey is far more complex than a simple buying process. It relates to how customers experience your brand as they move throughout your website.
You also need to know how to develop a successful ecommerce fulfillment strategy that helps you win and keep your customers so that they keep coming back for more. Knowing the main stages of that journey is essential to both mapping it and ensuring that it is as optimised as possible.
If your business works across a variety of channels (omnichannel), then the customer journey will be totally different depending on the specific platform. Let’s take a look at the 5 different stages below.
Every customer journey has to start somewhere.
In the ecommerce journey, this is known as the ‘awareness’ stage’. It relates to how customers found your product or service in the first place. Essentially it is how they became ‘aware’ of what your business has to offer.
In this stage you can also find out how they found your business, for example was it through a search engine or social media ads?
Not only can you find out where they came from but you can also learn more about their behaviour and how they interact with your site. For instance, do they spend long periods of time on a certain product page or landing page?
This could also be considered as the ‘learning’ stage as your customer is learning about your business and you’re learning about their preferences.
In the ‘consideration’ stage, customers start to show a real interest in your products and services.
They start to go beyond the stage of just general browsing, and begin to focus on a specific type of product. For example, with a vegan dog food company such as Noochy Poochy, you might notice that customers are spending a lot of time looking at your bags of original dog food. This indicates that they are interested in purchasing dog food rather than other products on the site such as branded t-shirts.
This is beneficial for your business as you can start to analyse what your customers are looking for and find ways to best serve their interests. Basically, it’s an insight into what type of products they like which allows you to tailor your messaging to suit.
These types of analytics help you reduce bounce rates and encourage your customer to investigate further into your business.
Whilst this word is loved in the world of marketing, a ‘conversion’ doesn’t necessarily mean a sale.
In lots of cases this can include a customer who has added a product to their shopping cart but then abandoned it. This happens all the time in the world of ecommerce as people are easily distracted and can forget to complete their purchase.
As a result, it’s all well and good having a high conversion rate, but if none of those people are actually completing a sale, then you don’t have a business.
At this stage you need to deliver on any promises that got your customer to this stage. This includes ensuring that all of your processes including sales, marketing, and customer service, are aligned to send out the right message.
Another magical word in the world of marketing!
Having a customer make a single purchase is one thing, but having them come back time and time again is another. These repeated purchases show that you have fulfilled their needs as they have chosen to use your services again.
This shows that they are satisfied with most, or all aspects of their journey which brings them closer to becoming a loyal customer. As such, they will look at your products and services before looking elsewhere, as they are confident that you can provide what they need.
Remember, providing a good ecommerce customer journey once is a lot easier than providing it each time a customer visits your site. The challenge is maintaining this level of customer service to ensure they don’t bounce back to Google.
This is the tip top stage of the ecommerce customer journey, but not every brand can expect to achieve it. If you do manage to retain customers and keep them happy, then the idea is that they become advocates of your brand, or brand ambassadors.
As such, not only are these types of customers loyal, but they are also interacting with your business at a much higher level.
This includes sharing, liking, and commenting on your social media posts and blogs to show that they are truly invested in your offering. Moreover, they will also utilise their own social media platforms to actively talk about your products and services, and they will also recommend your business to other people.
The advocacy stage is the ultimate goal for brands hoping to build up a committed customer base.
How can I Improve my Ecommerce Customer Journey?
Now you understand the different stages of the ecommerce customer journey, how can you start optimising it to attract more visitors and make more sales?
Well, let’s find out.
Create touchpoints at every stage
Anywhere your customers come into contact with your business is a touchpoint. Essentially they are ‘touching’ base with your brand – it can be easier to think of it in that context.
A customer journey might play out similar to the below:
You customers see an advert on Instagram, they visit your website, they read through customer testimonials, they contact your business to find out your opening hours, they finally make a purchase.
Each of these are touchpoints as they involve your customer interacting with your brand in some form. Going back to the five stages of the ecommerce customer journey, you need to have touchpoints for every stage.
Every single touchpoint needs to have a purpose as they all play a part in converting a prospect into a customer. Therefore, your advert on social media needs to be visually appealing, your checkout process has to be smooth, your customer service approach has to be fantastic. If one of these things slip, you could lose the attention of your customer and their journey will stop short.
Consider every device when optimising your site
Can you list 3 people who don’t own a mobile phone?
I’m not surprised. These small devices are quite literally glued to our hands. We take them everywhere and feel completely lost if we’ve left our phone at home for the day. What do you scroll on when your mind starts to wonder? How will you cope not knowing what’s happening on Twitter? What will you do during your lunch hour?
It’s crazy to think how attached human beings have become to their mobile phones. And I’m guilty of this too.
In fact, check out these stats to see just how much we use mobile phones:
- 83% of mobile users expect a flawless experience whenever they visit a website with any mobile device.- techjury.net
- More than half of all web traffic is mobile. – smartinsights.com
- More than 55% of internet users use their mobile phones to purchase products online and nearly 70% say they use shopping apps on their mobile devices.- datareportal.com
For any businesses looking to optimise their ecommerce customer journey, they need to make sure their website is responsive on mobile.
This includes easy-to-use navigation, quick loading times, and correctly sized images. If your website doesn’t look appealing and encourage people to stay on the page, they will simply click back off it.
The below screenshot shows the website of our client OPI Frutta on a mobile device. The screenshots show their homepage, navigation menu, and ‘about us’ section.
See full case study
Let’s do a run down of each image and explain how the design works on a mobile device.
As you can see, the design has been optimised for a mobile phone screen as there’s plenty of empty space (which means the viewer is not overwhelmed), and the main image perfectly fits the screen.
You also have the option to go to your cart or log in, which are clearly displayed at the top right corner of the screen – a position your eye is immediately drawn to.
This is clean, simple, and very easy to use. The white text also stands out great against the mustard background and the choice of typography is easy to read.
There is also a clear search bar at the bottom of the menu in case you can’t find exactly what you need.
About us section:
The text is complemented with a large pineapple image which is both visually appealing and breaks up the design. The call-to-action (CTA) ‘learn more’ is clearly positioned and emphasised with an underline swirl. It’s also a good size to enable users to easily tap with their finger.
The shopping cart icon remains on the screen even when you are scrolling, producing a very intuitive user experience. If, at any point, users want to look in their cart, all they need to do is tap the icon.
When optimising your site, testing is key. You can do this manually by opening up your website on different browsers and making sure it is responsive.
Develop a proactive customer service approach
Don’t just sit back and wait for problems to happen.
Anticipate what these problems might be, and identify solutions before they’ve had a chance to develop.
This way you can save time and hassle later down the line, and there’s a lot less chance of angry customers reaching out to you! To retain your customers, you need to keep them happy.
It’s as simple as that.
As a result it’s important you already know the solutions before you’ve been questioned about them. There are a number of benefits to be enjoyed from providing good customer service.
Aside from less angry customers (and therefore less headaches), let’s explore some of the other benefits:
- You’re more likely to have customers who are happy and loyal as they know they are supported throughout the process.
- You’re more likely to attract new customers as people will share their positive experiences with friends and family who will feel encouraged to use your products/ services too.
- By dealing with less complaints it means your team will have more time to learn about your customers. Instead of just keeping their above the water, they can actually listen to customers and collect more useful information.
- Make sure there is a good form of communication for customers to get in touch. This could include live chat or chat bots which can help speed up the enquiry process.
Design your shop homepage
Your homepage is the first thing customers will see when they come onto your ecommerce website.
Therefore it needs to be welcoming, engaging, and give them a reason to hang around. If it’s badly designed or has lots of annoying pop ups, the chances are, customers will bounce back.
Think of your homepage like your digital shop window.
When you’ve got a physical store, what encourages people to come in?
Perhaps it’s the display window, the signage, or the fact you have someone standing at the front door handing out freebies? Who knows, but it’s got their attention which is the main thing.
The same principle applies to your homepage. How are you going to make people stop and find out what your business is all about?
The best thing to do here is to put yourself in your customers shoes. Consider what they would like to see the moment they land on your website and what type of content would encourage them to explore further.
This might include showcasing your ‘best sellers’ or ‘seasonal picks’. Of course, this will differ greatly depending on the type of business you have but the main goal should be the same: to make a customer’s search fast, efficient, and easy.
It’s also a good idea to provide a range of search options to allow customers to easily navigate to where they want to be. We do this quite nicely on the Canny blog, as we allow users to filter the type of blogs they want to read about whether that’s something in the world of branding, web, content, or video.
As a result, website visitors can simply jump to the right section which saves them time and effort.
Speak directly to your customers
Customers love to feel valued.
They love to know that you actually care about their wants and needs, instead of treating them like any other buyer.
It’s so obvious when brands use generic messages to promote their products and services. This copy and paste approach isn’t going to do the job if you want to attract (and convert) a high volume of people.
This is where personalisation comes in, which involves making your customer feel like they’re the person you’re directly speaking to. It’s a very powerful approach and can make the difference between someone purchasing a product or looking elsewhere.
There are lots of ways to personalise your content and it can start with something as simple as including their name. However, to make a real impact, you need to recognise their interests and buying habits.
This involves personalising content based on their purchasing behaviour, location, gender, age, and so much more. Because you are offering personalised content that is tailored to the needs of your customer, it’s more likely to result in a sale.
It all starts with collecting data about your customers which can be obtained through your website analytics, CMR software, social media interactions, and surveys.
An average of 47% of people are willing to provide personal information in exchange for improved customer experience, even amid today’s heightened awareness of privacy concerns. – Semrush
Once you have the data, it’s time to start using it to deliver profile-specific content. The following tools are beneficial to any marketer:
Optimise your product pages
It takes a lot of effort to get your customers on your product page in the first place, so when you have them, don’t let them go!
This includes optimising your product descriptions, images, and calls to action, to make customers motivated to make a purchase. Even if they are on your product page and they are interested in your product, they need to feel compelled to hit that all-important ‘buy’ button.
Images are highly important as customers can’t see your products in real life.
They’re judging purely by the images you have chosen so make sure these are high quality and represent your brand in the right way. A pixelated, blurred image isn’t going to encourage any customer to enter their card details and part with their cash.
Production descriptions are the other part of the essential duo, as customer’s need to know what your product is all about. This includes a whole array of information such as product size, weight, details, applications, and so much more. Basically anything your customer could need to know before they make a purchase.
Below are a few top tips to writing high-converting product page descriptions:
- Use bullet points instead of chunks of text. This makes it much easier for your audience to retain information rather than looking at lots of words.
- Use the right tone of voice so that your audience engages with your content.
- Always include product specific information where relevant such as dimensions and weight.
- Make important information transparent such as delivery costs or booking fees.
- Include customer reviews underneath your product descriptions as this adds value and credibility to your offering.
Gather lots and lots of data
Collecting data about your customers is not a one off exercise.
Whilst you should collect as much information as possible about your customers in the first instance, you should never just stop.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you ‘know’ your customers and that’s it.
Customer buying habits are constantly changing as purchasing decisions are greatly influenced by how brands make us feel. That’s why it’s important to keep up with your customers to fully understand what types of products and services they’re into.
The data you collect whether that’s through your website, social media, or surveys, is highly valuable. Use it to gain a deeper understanding of your market. By understanding how your ideal consumers behave online, you can identify ways to improve their ecommerce customer journey.
Moreover, the more information you have on customers, the easier it is to segment them into relevant groups. This makes implementing personalisation (which we have covered above) much easier.
You can also work out what campaigns worked well against what campaigns fell a little flat, allowing you to put more time and effort into those that are performing best. Essentially it’s about understanding what your customer wants from your company, and then serving them content which fills that gap.
This is the perfect recipe for a satisfied, loyal customer!
Do you ever wish you could get into the mind of your ideal customer and find out what they really think? If so, you need to check out Wynter! This B2B intelligence tool allows businesses to find out what their target market truly thinks so that they can design their brand messaging to be as effective as possible.
How to Improve Your Ecommerce Customer Journey and Sell More Stuff
Creating a positive ecommerce customer journey is essential to the success of your online shop.
It’s not enough to just understand the 5 stages of the ecommerce journey if you don’t know how to convert your prospects into customers. At each stage, you need to understand what your customers need from your business, and then work to serve that demand.
This ensures that you are guiding them from the awareness stage through to making a purchase. You need to make life as easy as possible for your customers, otherwise they will not stay around long enough to buy your products/ services.
Think about what you would want from a website and what would encourage you to buy, because usually, this is what your customers are thinking too. If your website is badly designed, difficult to navigate, or doesn’t load on a mobile phone, then you can kiss goodbye to a sale.
Optimising your ecommerce customer journey will make the difference.
If you feel slightly overwhelmed about anything relating to your ecommerce website, or websites in general for that matter, then get in touch with the Canny team. From web design, to web development, to website hosting, you could say we’re a bit of an expert!
Get in touch with our team for an informal chat about your business.