10 Tactics for Optimizing Your E-Commerce Consumer Journey
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10 Tactics for Optimizing Your E-Commerce Consumer Journey

Reading Time: 8 minutes(Last Updated On: May 2, 2021)

With millions of online stores out there, big and small, how can you get yours noticed? And more than that, how can you keep customers coming back? Generating e-commerce awareness and loyalty is no easy task, but is possible if you get one thing right. Stop thinking like a store owner. That’s right – you read it correctly. 

The secret to becoming a profitable e-commerce store owner is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, to view every part of your business from the customers’ point of view. Forget for a moment about your business KPIs and metrics – instead, see and feel what your customers are experiencing along every step of their interaction with your business – from the moment they become aware of your store’s existence until the point that they become loyal ambassadors. 

As a store owner, you have the power to shape this user experience by charting the consumer journey and ensuring not just a smooth sailing but a remarkable, unforgettable experience.

 

What is the consumer journey?

A consumer journey is the path that your customers take from the point of finding your website all the way through to completing the payment process. By analyzing the e-commerce customer journey, you will gain insight into consumer behavior and what drives your customers, so you can improve their customer experience step-by-step throughout the e-commerce journey.

If you track your consumer journey, you can figure out how visitors engage with your site and literally walk in their digital footsteps. How did they find your store? What path did they take to actually end up buying from you? Every single online interaction experienced by your site visitors is pinpointed so you can identify where you can make improvements to improve the user experience. This is one of the many advantages of e-commerce: every interaction and action leaves a digital footprint. 

 

Buyer journey mapping

Would you go on a journey without a map or a GPS navigation tool? The same applies to buyer journey mapping, which is the process of diagrammatically portraying all the touchpoints and interactions that consumers experience with your business, from awareness to loyalty. Essentially it’s your navigation tool, charting your buyer’s journey. The goal of any buyer journey map is to predict the path to a sale and can offer great insight into consumer behavior, motivations and interactions. A buyer journey map begins at the point of identifying the customer’s traits, defining their needs, following their customer journey and learning their objections and challenges.

Buyer journey mapping is important as it helps you make informed decisions about your e-commerce store and what you need to change to improve the user experience. It’s an omnichannel process, involving multiple facets including marketing, sales, customer support, design, product and more.

These are the steps involved in buyer journey mapping:

  1. Define your customer persona including demographic information, motivations and pain points. Most of this information you can get from your CRM, Google Analytics or even by conducting a customer survey.

  2. Specify your persona’s goals – by defining the goals of each persona

  3. Map out the e-commerce user journey so you can identify every single one of your customers’ touchpoints with your business and optimize the user experience at each stage. Remember in a consumer journey, you always need to view every stage from the customer’s perspective, and not from the business perspective,  and aim to improve the customer experience. These are the stages of the buyer journey: awareness, consideration, decision, loyalty, ambassador.

E-commerce customer journe

    • Awareness/discovery stage – this stage actually begins before the customer even discovers your website. It takes place in the search engine, as consumers conduct research to find their product. This is where your Google AdWords and SEO come into play. If you can get your site to rank high on the search engine results page (SERP) for the right keywords, then consumers are more likely to find your store and buy from you.

    • Consideration/browsing stage – this takes place on the landing page on your site where consumers enter and begin exploring your store when they (hopefully) click on your link. It could be a product category page or a product page for the specific product they were searching for. This is where you’ll need to provide educational content, customer reviews and product recommendations to motivate and educate the customer to buy from your store.

    • Decision/buying stage – this is the point where customers decide to actually purchase from your store. The checkout/cart process is most important for this phase, as any deterrents, for example, complicated checkout or limited payment methods, could result in cart abandonment. Buyer journey mapping can help you identify any such problems and nip them in the bud. 

    • Loyalty/retention stage – customers that repeat purchase are in the loyalty stage so this is where customer support and post-sale contact play an important role.

    • Ambassador/advocacy stage – the ultimate stage in the consumer journey is to get customers to recommend you to others online and offline, to become a voice for your brand, and post 5-star reviews.

    4. Prioritize customer touchpoints based on customer persona. For example, if one of your personas is a predominantly mobile shopper, you can focus on optimizing your store for mobile.

     

    Consumer journey and profitability 

    By understanding your consumer journey you can actually improve your store’s profitability. To understand how your consumer journey impacts your profitability, you need to zoom in and break up the journey into its key metrics, and learn how optimizing your store based on each of these metrics can help you increase your profits.

    A profit calculator such as BeProfit can give you insight into your e-commerce store’s profitability showing profit trends, profit per order or product and providing an intuitive data-based picture of what you can improve in your consumer journey in order to increase your profitability. 

    Calculate profit with BeProfit - Profit Tracker

    Consumer journey metrics and how to track them 

    Customer journey metrics are dependent upon the stage in the customer journey, for example: 

    • Awareness metric: # of visitors, organic keywords, which content is clicked googled and clicked on the most. You can access all this data through your Google Analytics or AdWords accounts

    • Consideration metric: # CTA (call-to-action) conversions, which indicate consumer intent, for example, create account, requesting information, adding to cart, adding to wish list

    • Conversion metric: Average Order Value (AOV), Sales Conversion Rate, Cart Abandonment Rate

    • Loyalty metric: Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) shows the total value of a customer to your business over their lifetime

    • Ambassador metric: number of positive reviews

     

    How to optimize your consumer journey 

    Now that you know what the consumer journey is and what metrics will be used to measure, you can now learn how to optimize your consumer journey on your way to scale your ecommerce business. Since the consumer journey involves every interaction or experience a customer has with your business from the moment of awareness, there are multiple stages involved and touchpoints where you can optimize the consumer journey.

    Armed with these ten tactics you can achieve customer journey optimization and increase your profits:

    1. Make your site easily discoverable 

    • Optimize your online store for search engines based on relevant product keywords – this is the best way to generate high-intent, organic traffic but is also high in competition

    • Ad campaigns to relevant buyer persona groups – Google, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok ads are all beneficial ad platforms for e-commerce sellers

    2. Create informative product pages

    This tactic is crucial for the consideration stage of the consumer journey. Customers typically conduct research before committing to a purchase. The more easily accessible information you have, the more likely the customer will feel confident to buy from your store. The type of information should include:

    • Product description
    • Technical information about the product e.g. size specs, materials, weight and so on
    • Product usage videos
    • Pictures of the product from all angles
    • Customer reviews
    • Recommendations for similar products and complementary products

    3. Optimize page load time

    Customers are more likely to leave your site if the page speed pr page load time is slow. Not only will a slow page speed impact your online sales, it can also be detrimental to your SEO, as Google’s algorithms take page speed into account. You can measure your page load speed with a tool such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights. There are a number of ways you can increase your page load speed including by compressing images, optimizing your site code and reducing redirects. 

    4. Make site easily navigable 

    Simplifying the consumer journey once the buyer is in your site is a powerful tactic to get the buyer to the point of purchase. Since the consumer is now on your turf, you’re in control of what he or she experiences. You don’t want to scare the customer away with a complicated shopping experience, your goal should be to take the buyer from point a (browsing) to point b (buying) as smoothly as possible. Consumers should have to visit no more than three pages to get to the payment page. Call to actions should be easy to find, clear and directional.

    5. Improve your checkout process

    Nothing scares away a customer faster than a sub-par checkout process. This is the part where customers need to feel 100% secure and under no pressure caused by a complicated checkout.  

    6. Provide exceptional customer support

    What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Amazon? Chances are it’s their incredible customer support. There’s no issue too big or too small for the e-commerce giant and they live and breathe the mantra ‘the customer is always right.’ Everything from returns, to requests are dealt with promptly, politely and proactively with problem-solving as the highest priority. 

    7. Connect with customers post-sale

    Since the consumer journey doesn’t end at the sale, you still have the opportunity to optimize your consumer journey post-sale. To build a lasting relationship with your customers and to keep them coming back, you need to keep in touch with them after that initial sale, making them feel valued and offering personalized service. Here are some examples of how you can connect with your customers post-sale:

    • Enquire about their customer experience with a follow-up email
    • Send personalized emails recommending products that you think they would like based on their initial purchase
    • If they do reach out with any issues, make sure to resolve them promptly

    8. Discover why customers abandon their carts and solve their issues

    Due to cart abandonment, e-commerce businesses lose out on $18 billion in sales revenue per year. That’s money down the drain. If you can improve your buyer journey and employ strategies to reduce cart abandonment, you can retain customers as well as large amounts of revenue. The first step is to discover why your customers are abandoning their carts. Is your checkout process too complicated? Do you not offer free shipping? Limited payment methods? Once you’ve pinpointed the deterrent, you can start working on improving this part of your store and this crucial juncture in your customer’s journey.

    9. Meet shipping expectations

    As mentioned, shipping is one of the most important elements in the customer journey. But it goes even further than meeting the expectation for free shipping, you also need to make sure that your customers’ delivery experience is satisfactory. Although the customer is now technically in the hands of the shipping carrier, you need to see your customer right through to the end of the consumer journey by making sure that the parcel gets delivered on time, in perfect condition and that your customer can easily track the parcels delivery status through your website.

    10. Personalize the shopping experience

    Last but certainly not least, personalization is one of the most important aspects of the e-commerce customer journey. Customers value a personalized shopping experience and since your store is online, you have access to tools to enable you to do so easily. Here are some ways you can optimize your consumer journey by personalizing the shopping experience:

    • Offer recommendations based on your customer’s browsing history
    • Send personalized emails with special offers based on preferences and previous orders
    • Use technology to remember where your customer left off the last time they were in your online store as well as their preferences, so they don’t need to go through the buying process all over again

     

    The journey starts now

    It’s never too late to map your consumer journey and start optimizing every interaction your customers experience with you. Become a customer-centric e-commerce store, optimize your consumer journey and watch your sales, profits and positive reviews soar. 

    Calculate profit with BeProfit - Profit Tracker
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter and should not be relied upon as such. The author accepts no responsibility for any consequences whatsoever arising from the use of such information.