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Typical Stages of a Consumer Journey in e-Commerce

Mehreen Siddiqua Dec 13, 2017
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The ecommerce industry has broad coverage that expands to a myriad of devices and various online channels. In fact, there are already paths laid out for the consumer that can lead them to your platform. However, the decision to take every step is triggered by certain motivators such as your offerings, brand credibility and the time of the season. While these crucial details create all the difference, sometimes the length of the process exhausts a consumer the most.

A consumer can take hundreds of different paths or channels to reach you. The customer journey mapping process is not only their physical or digital footprint but also comprises of their potential and motivations.

An online consumer journey leading to purchase usually comprises of these 5 stages:

Awareness: When the consumers has discovered your brand. A customer is usually introduced to an e-commerce site through various advertising tools or social media campaigns.

Consideration: Once your name is registered in the minds of your potential customers, they will search to check if you offer the products or service they need. Technically, at this stage your potential customers are going to get filtered.

Preference: Based on their research, the online shoppers establish a preference in terms of which website they want to purchase from.

Purchase: This is where the customer makes a purchase decision but they will consider repurchase if they experience a smooth checkout and payment system.

What Keeps a Customer Coming Back to Your eCommerce Store?

It’s not always quick and easy to run an ecommerce website. There are sales to be made, orders to be filled, and payments to be received. That’s why, it is vital to ensure that you have your basics covered when operating a well-rounded website.

This influx of online stores makes online competition more intensive and allows clients to be far more specific about where they shop. This results in other aspects, such as the user experience in your eCommerce shop, becoming as much a decisive factor in your purchase as the cost of your item.

Here are some tips that will lay a strong foundation for your ecommerce business.

Fast Load Times

Despite this being a quite apparent factor of what a client wants in an eCommerce shop, it’s still something that several eCommerce shops lack to provide. A large proportion of online sales is occurring via mobile phones now. Therefore, efforts should be made to ensure that everything from code level up is optimized for quick loading speed.

Sufficient Stock

An obvious reason for online shopping is convenience. Imagine how irritated your client would be, and how upset you would be if you bought something to find out that it was out of stock and you only got a portion of your order. Therefore, it is essential that your inventory levels are an accurate reflection of your overall inventory quantities. Real-time inventory software, often a standard feature in excellent eCommerce platforms, will help you to ensure accurate stock levels.

Precise and Meaningful Product Images and Details

When a client buys from your ecommerce store, all they know about the products is what you provide them with. To ensure that your customers are satisfied when they collect the item and that customers are not falsely led to think that the product was what they were looking for, make absolutely sure that you have accurate and useful product images and descriptions. When designing pictures for your products, consider what a customer would want to look at if they had to pick up that item in a high street shop. Decent product descriptions further enable you to help customers understand what the product looks like, as well as explaining some of the items’ main characteristics.

Allow Guest Checkouts

If a customer has never previously purchased from the website or is not acquainted with the brand, they will be more reluctant to build an account with your website. To enable your website to establish some trust among people, you should allow your customers to buy as a guest. Trying to force them to set up an account might just lose that sale.

Another factor for allowing guest buyers is when someone make any purchases using a mobile phone, it becomes problematic for them to complete the account creation process with a poor internet connection or while walking down the street. If you’re worried about losing precious marketing data, there are other methods to get that data. You can also have fast signup areas for newsletters or popups that offer them a discount code if they enter their email address. The tip is to enable guest checkout to prevent losing new customers.

Show Absolute Cost

Transparency is a crucial component of building confidence with your online customers. In the eCommerce store world this means being transparent with your costs and any delivery information.

The biggest pet peeve for an online shopper is when they’re surprised by additional costs they didn’t expect when they get to the checkout. Get this right and your abandoned basket rate won’t be unnecessarily high and you’ll see your sales flood in.

Safe and Secure Payment

A key element of a customer’s wish list for the ideal ecommerce shop is that it is safe and secure for them to enter their payment information. They don’t want to lose their private data just to buy something online. Indeed, it has been noted that if customers think the site is not safe, they will abandon the baskets. Guaranteeing the use of secure payment gateways, SSL certificates and good security protocols in your ecommerce shop will contribute to making your ecommerce shop secure.

But to make your website safe is not enough; you need to demonstrate it’s secure as well. Use logos and major credit cards and payment acceptance symbols to reassure customers.

Are you guiding your consumer?

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From statistics, it has been confirmed that 88% of customers use reviews to guide their purchase decision. Clearly, customer reviews have higher importance and they seem to be a source to lead customers to a purchase decision. Likewise, reviews can prevent a customer from taking a purchase decision. Marketers can facilitate this stage of decision making by integrating unbiased user-generated reviews in their platforms.

Check out the top questions that will enable you to map other aspects of their journey. Let’s take a look.

  • How has the consumer ended up interacting with your brand?
  • If your consumer relies on digital experience, then what devices are they using?
  • Why is your customer hesitant to move to the next stage of the journey?
  • What are the motivating factors, if your customer goes to the next stage?
  • What are the touchpoints and opportunities between you and the customer?

To get answer to all those questions, let’s explore the stages of consumer journey through an e-commerce platform.

The find stage

We can officially call this the discovery mode of the consumer. They will skim through various categories to locate a product/service they want. While they are doing that, the product pages should load faster or the visitor will have an urge to change website or drop the search altogether.
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Shop stage

At the shop stage, a consumer does a selection and comparison of products. hence if the best sellers are visible to them or products relevant to their search, there is good chance they will add them to cart. Provide them hints throughout their journey and propose similar items that your customers might want to select as well.

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Checkout stage

The e-shoppers have added and viewed their cart and this is where they move to checkout stage. Now the consumer expects to place an order without too many things to worry about so this stage should be simple and convenient.

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Pay stage

At the checkout stage you can either select COD or credit card payment. The later would add one more step to your online purchase ordeal. Believe it or not, some people tend to abandon shopping cart at this stage.

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Receive stage

At this stage, the consumer gets the product or service as promised or decides to return the product if it falls below satisfactory levels. This is a difficult step but still holds an opportunity to turn a dissatisfied customer into a happy customer.

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How to Improve Your E-commerce Website Structure for Better Shopping Experience?

How good your e-commerce website is structured serves an important part in the entire user experience. It also improves your website’s SEO. Your website design should be user-friendly and simple to navigate. It should be able to attract new customers to sign up for a newsletter and get some more sales.

We’ll now look at some guidelines to enhance the structure of your eCommerce page:

Create a Website Structure in the First Place

If you’re developing a new eCommerce site or even if you’re optimizing your current site, having a structure or hierarchy in place will allow you to make better choices. You may use a spreadsheet or whiteboard program like excel or google drive spreadsheets. The hierarchy may comprise several subcategories, but bear in mind that each field should somehow relate to the primary category.

Make A URL Structure

A successful URL structure helps draw overall traffic to your site. It will assist you to develop a well-developed website framework.

A dense URL structure for keywords can be useful to your e-store. It will enable search engines to interpret your website readily. It will also be beneficial to showcase your branding.

Check the Structure of Your Site

Where and how much optimization is needed in the site structure is essential to understand. Different methodologies can be used to evaluate the structure of your site.

One technique is to test how far web pages are from your home page. It will help you to understand how many clicks you need to complete a task. As completing a task in fewer steps is the likeliness of a healthy user experience. A more efficient way to check the framework/structure of your site is by card sorting. It helps to comprehend your target customers’ mindset. It integrates the user directly with the sitemap you create in the past. You will be able to analyze what you need to change in your site structure when you have completed testing for about 15 users.

Keep Coding Simplistic

More use of HTML and CSS will help in keeping your code simple and easy. This will benefit your ecommerce website’s SEO. Simple code can be readily altered from basic to more sophisticated coding. Coding more with JavaScript, Flash, and Ajax will make it hard for crawlers to navigate through the hierarchy of the site.

Keep Your Top Products on Homepage

It will be very useful for your customers if you list your top goods on the homepage. Compared to other websites, maximum traffic will come to your homepage. Search engines recognize a website with more traffic, i.e. a homepage to place you better in search results. Think of the site hierarchy for a better understanding. If the search engine begins interpreting from the top page, it will be better passed to the other pages, ensuring that no web page is missed.

Fix All the Broken Links

CMS platforms such as WordPress have now made it simpler for individuals to make adjustments to a website without employing a specialist. A greater number of broken links can be detrimental to your website. Too many broken links on a web page can have a negative impact on its search engine rankings.   Google Analytics can be used to fix broken links, you can easily set the period of time in which you want to find them and then create a report on your broken link redirect process. You can use Microsoft Excel to maintain this report. You can also export the report to excel from Google Analytics. Examine the report and determine which websites to fix.

While creating an eCommerce website for your business, you need to be sure that its structure is optimized of search engines. You must focus on ensuring that navigation is user-friendly and structured. Or you can also get assistance from a professional web development company for an optimized e-commerce website for your business.

Mehreen Siddiqua

She is a millennial with a sense of humor that she embodies in visuals. A Digital Marketer focusing on Social Media Marketing by profession, exploring diverse avenues and ventures in tech while honing entrepreneurial skills. Currently she is the communications coordinator and strategist for Arpatech looking into e-commerce, consumer behavior and digital business models.