Nowadays, e-commerce is not just buying online, it has become a new way of interacting with brands and products. The ability to give direct feedback, helpful post-purchase assistance, multichannel shopping and more are all parts of the purchasing experience: the customer journey.
An e-commerce customer journey is the digital adaptation of the marketing concept that allows retailers to visualize customers’ objectives, needs, feelings and barriers throughout the path of their purchase for a particular product or service. But why is the e-commerce customer journey so important? A customer using an e-commerce platform may have positive or negative experiences during any of the “steps” characterizing its decision process: are the product categories well organized? Do product pages contain the information I’m looking for? How many purchasing methods are available? How are returns handled? Is there a direct communication channel with the platform?
This concept is very common in digital marketing and although there are many interpretations and ways to count these stages, experts usually follow the following ones: awareness, consideration, acquisition, retention and advocacy.
Today there are so many e-commerce platforms competing with each other and consumers don’t have time to waste on a website not fulfilling their needs and that explains why experience has become even more important for customers than the product itself: just getting noticed among your competitors is hard, but transforming prospects into actual customers is even harder. But it pays back. According to HBR, increasing customer retention rate by 5% increases profits by at least 25%. Organizations that understand the importance of retaining customers, work hard to provide a seamless customer experience to their existing buyers.
The customer journey should be carefully managed – use the right channels for interaction at each stage, watch the frequency of communication, create meaningful touch points, control the outcome of each step so it leads to the next. Thus, is very important for e-commerce players to create a customer journey map to follow the road that customers are using and improve it. But how to create your own e-commerce customer journey? First, is important to define our customer behaviors and personas. Where do my customers come from? On what device does the first interaction happen? Is the experience optimized for it? What channels bring the loyal customers and which ones bring low-quality leads? It will help you visualize what your ideal online customer is likely to experience while shopping on your website. In this case is important to pair your website/platform with online tools that can help you gather the data you will need to take action: tools like Hotjar or Hubspot can really help in optimization, but remember that in order to optimize your e-commerce you must first create buyer personas and specific targets. It is not possible to optimize the customer journey on broad and non-specific targets, because the variables are just too many.
It’s important to know how often your customers shop, for what order values, at what triggers and what are related products according to them. Using analytics is a good strategy at this point too. Once you pair your customer persona with your website analytics you will be able to personalize the content you want your customers to see. But first you will need to segment your customer database according to communication preferences, localization and demographic, behavior and their position in the buying cycle.
Customers are no longer solely satisfied with an excellent product offering. We can definitely say that your customer journey map is a great tool for optimizing your customer experience. To stay ahead of the game, you need a unique offering that sets you apart from the rest of the competitors. The final objective is to ensure the journey you provide your customer meets both your business and brand goals.