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Understanding the customer journey: for eCommerce

by | May 17, 2022

From being unaware of your brand and product to becoming a loyal customer. The customer journey in eCommerce is more important than in any other retail context. Not only can it be the difference between making a sale or not but it can also help you maintain a competitive edge in the saturated eCommerce space. 

With that in mind, we want to run you through everything you need to know about the customer journey and the different stages you need to consider to improve customer retention for your eCommerce store. 

Defining an eCommerce customer journey 

A customer journey lays out every touchpoint your customer moves through when it comes to your business. This means every time that a customer interacts with your brand, whether that’s an ad they see, a website they land on, purchasing process they move through or even an email they receive. It also encompasses non-digital aspects such as the waiting time for delivery, product dispatch updates, the quality or match up of the project and follow up for review.

Every touchpoint is more ‘evidence’ as to why a customer may or may not choose to purchase or repurchase from your eCommerce store. As a result, it’s of the utmost importance that this full journey and all of its steps are cohesive. It’s this very cohesion that could be the difference between them choosing to purchase, repurchase or recommend your business onward. 

OK, tell me more about its importance 

Think of it like this. We’ve all been through a customer journey. You see an ad for a product, consider it, maybe see another remarketing ad and visit a website. You leave your details for a discount and receive an offer email. You’re impressed by the product and price leading you through to purchase – which all runs smoothly. However, you find that the delivery takes too long, and the product is damaged on delivery. Our overall assessment of the service, despite valuing the product and the process up to delivery, would be pretty poor. And it’s this sort of negative experience that would likely put you off from buying from an eCommerce store again. 

So although the customer journey may be serving the initial sale of a product, it is not delivering on customer retention. And this sort of one-sided focus is often where a lot of eCommerce brands fall foul of achieving ongoing success – focusing on the initial point to purchase and not the bigger picture of the customer experience. 

This is why looking at the full customer journey is essential to building a successful eCommerce business. Leaving no stone unturned when it comes to how your customer interacts with your brand. 

What Are the Stages of a Customer Journey?

There are five key stages to the eCommerce customer journey. Each depicts a customer who has a specific amount of exposure to your brand and that has its own unique mindset. Understanding this at each stage can help you to better craft your messaging and focus your efforts on areas where you may be seeing customers drop off. We’ve broken down each of the five stages into mindset, tactics, channels and touchpoints – giving you a clear idea of where the customer is at each stage of the journey, how to best utilise this position and key marketing channels to consider. 

, Understanding the customer journey: for eCommerce

Awareness 

The stage where a new customer has their first interactions with your brand or business. They are casually browsing with little intent to purchase. 

Mindset: curious to learn more about what you have to offer, whether what it is your offering fits in with their needs and are looking to better understand your brand as a whole. 

Tactics: focus on the pain points of your customer – the problem that your product solves. 

Channels: SEO (optimising your store for search), social media and email. 

Touchpoints: ads (paid and organic), blog content, eCom store, blog posts, advertorials  

Consideration 

The customer is considering options on your store is somewhat ‘sold’ on your brand and is browsing with intent. Likely to see a lot of drop off in terms of customers here as they may find it difficult to find what they’re looking for. However, this stage can tell us a lot about user behaviour and how the format of a page or website can craft specific responses from your customers. 

Mindset: have a clearer idea of your brand and are looking for the right product to purchase. Somewhat impatient to find what they’re looking for. 

Tactics: have clear routes to specific product categories with category tabs and on-page signals to direct the customer through the checkout process succinctly.  

Channels: landing page, product pages and category tabs.

Acquisition 

The customer has decided on a product (or products), adds it to their cart and proceeds with the payment. The product will then be shipped to the customer.

Mindset: want to purchase the product and have made their mind.

Tactics: create a seamless purchasing process that offers different types of payment (e.g. PayPal and card). This should also include an abandon cart email. In terms of post-purchase, an informative email series should follow, confirming the order and giving live updates on delivery status. 

Channels: eCommerce page, cart, checkout and email.

Service 

This stage refers to any interaction the customer needs to make with the customer service team – whether that be to make a query about the product, return or provide feedback. 

Mindset: maybe be pleased or displeased with the product but are looking for support.

Tactics: provide high levels of customer service and easily accessible routes to getting in touch. This could be a manned chatbot, call centre or quick-respond email service. 

Channels: chatbot, onsite and personal email.

Loyalty 

This stage is about retaining the customer and delivering a great post-purchase experience. As we said before it’s often an aspect that is put by the wayside but is the most important step. 

Mindset: the customer has purchased from you and may be looking for a reason to stay on your email list. They could be in the position to refer or leave a review. 

Tactics: helpful and useful content, targeted offers for products similar to their purchasing behaviour and referral schemes. 

Channels: email, specific landing pages and product pages. 

Understanding these key stages is the foundation on which you can build a strong eCommerce customer journey. That not only drives toward sale but loyalty from your customer. Want to discover more about the customer journey for eCommerce? Take a look at our blog. Or if you’d like assistance with this aspect of your business – get in touch with our team.

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