Buying products from e-commerce businesses has become commonplace in today’s digital landscape. People purchase everything, from groceries to cars, online, and it’s all thanks to e-commerce businesses. In 2020, the U.S. e-commerce market generated $431.6 billion in revenue, and that number is expected to reach upwards of $560 billion by 2025.
But with a rapidly growing market, it’s become increasingly difficult to make your customer experience superior to those of other e-commerce businesses. With so many more retailers moving to an online model, partially due to the pandemic, you need to find ways to stand out as a brand online.
The ability to attract and retain customers comes from a clear understanding of your retail customer journey. This journey helps you know more about your customers, as well as the how and why behind their purchase decisions. In turn, your e-commerce business will have a better shot at showing each consumer the right thing at the right time to net a purchase.
To help create a seamless retail customer journey for your e-commerce business, here are five tips you should follow.
1. Understand Your Audience’s Needs
Every successful retail customer journey starts with a deep understanding of your customer and their needs. Depending on your product, your e-commerce business should carefully monitor your brand’s larger buying trends. Knowing what delights your customers enough to make a purchase can help you inform your retail customer journey.
Look for crucial buying trends on different channels your brand owns. What are your conversion rates off of a particular paid social media ad versus high traffic organic pages? Knowing these types of details can help save your business money, so it’s not investing heavily in channels that haven’t traditionally been lucrative.
It’s also important to dive deeper into customer psychology and find out specifics. How many products are they buying at one time? What time of day are most purchases occurring? Every bit of information you can find about their buying trends can help you learn more about how your customers interact with your products.
2. Analyze Your Product’s Purchase Timeline
In order to help your customers along their journey, you need to understand your core product and its purchase timeline. The purchase timeline determines how much time you’ll need to allot for mapping out your customer journey.
The timeline for consumers buying a low-ticket item is generally pretty fast. If your e-commerce business is selling a pair of socks, you don’t need a ton of customer journey touchpoints to make a sale. The consumer usually knows what size socks they need, and maybe they have a color already in mind. People generally go straight to a website and purchase because they already have a good idea of what they need.
For higher-ticket items, it’s a different story. When a consumer is looking to purchase something like a new sofa, it’s not usually a spur-of-the-moment decision. Instead, the consumer might research several e-commerce businesses that sell sofas. They go through multiple customer journey touchpoints, like educational blog posts or even conversations with a sales representative.
Expensive products from e-commerce businesses need to be supported by solid content and sales representatives to drive home their value. As a result, your business should expect that the retail customer journey will take more time to complete. It’s no different than going to a brick-and-mortar store and taking longer to decide on purchasing a product that comes at a premium price point.
3. Determine Your Strongest Conversion Paths
Conversions for e-commerce businesses don’t materialize on their own, although it would be great if they did. It’s important to identify the strongest conversion paths, so you can double down on where your target audience actually comes from and stop pouring money into channels where they don’t.
Taking time to find which conversion paths are most effective for your business is critical. It can help you find out each of the individual steps a buyer takes on their way to a purchase. You need to understand where customers are coming from to invest marketing dollars in those specific channels.
The more you know about your winning conversion paths, the more insight you can gain into where customers decide to purchase your product. That insight is critical because it can inform marketing and sales strategies.
Any easy way to find out which conversion paths result in the most purchases is to run a Top Conversion Paths report in Google Analytics. This report tells you the exact sequence of channel interactions that led to a conversion and how many conversions occurred on each path
You’ll be able to gauge if your top conversion paths skew heavier toward paid or organic efforts, which can be valuable in developing future content. Maybe most of your audience is making purchases directly after reading a great blog post, and you don’t need to dump more money into that expensive Facebook ad campaign.
E-commerce platforms like Shopify can grant access to analytics that will give you insight into what products are selling and which ones are collecting dust on your virtual shelf. Keep an eye on things like which products are selling most consistently and how frequently those purchases occur over a select period.
Ensure that you’re also tracking essential insights related to the discount codes and referral programs your business offers. If sales are still down despite the good deals you’re offering, how can you get more potential customers to know about them? Maybe you need to create more touchpoints on social media, offer deals to website visitors that live chat with your business, set up display ads for new or remarketed audiences, and other channels to get the word out.
4. Show Brand Transparency Through Your Content
Great content marketing is the secret weapon behind every great e-commerce business and is often what your audience interacts with most on their retail customer journey. That said, content comes in many different flavors, and businesses shouldn’t choose one with blinders on.
The best e-commerce businesses understand that they’re not the only show in town. It’s simple enough to do a Google search that will list several retail competitors in your industry—many of which may have better pricing. To combat that, your business needs to create content that acknowledges the competition and doesn’t try to show them in a poor light.
Why? Today’s consumers value brand transparency. They want to see brands talk about where they source materials, how they treat their employees, and costs go into determining a brand’s prices. Gen Z consumers—who are quickly rising in numbers as buyers—value brand transparency and want to see more of it from brands they buy from. Having content that shows this information is an excellent way to give consumers confidence in the company from which they’re buying.
5. Refine Your Non-Brand Touchpoints
In a retail customer journey, this is where things get a little interesting. Retail brands have multiple channels that may reach outside of their owned properties. You might sell your product directly on your site, but it might be available on sites like Amazon and Etsy as well. These sites can also be considered sales and marketing channels for your product.
With that in mind, you can’t simply focus on your owned channels as touchpoints. If your product is sold on another site, like Amazon, for example, ensure all your product descriptions and information is always up-to-date. Every channel that sells your product should give consumers everything they need to understand what your product can help solve.
Visualize Your Retail Customer Journey Map
With all the information you need to build one, it’s finally time to create a retail customer journey map for your e-commerce business. We’ve even put together a customer journey mapping template to help you with all the information you need to get started and keep a visual record of your retail customer journey efforts.