More and more consumers are moving their purchasing power away from brick-and-mortar stores in favor of ecommerce shopping. 55.6% of people prefer shopping online, and each year online retail purchases make up a larger percentage of total sales. As the proportion of online purchases continues to grow, ecommerce brands must deliver a seamless user experience to maximize their sales and profits.
This process of discovering a product, exploring it, and deciding to buy it online is called the ecommerce buyer’s journey. And while it might sound like a very personal process, you actually have a lot of control in directing it to grow your business.
By optimizing your customers’ buying journey, you can provide a great user experience that converts more prospects into paying customers. And all you need to do is follow 4 simple steps.
What is the ecommerce buyer’s journey?
Before we look at how to improve the ecommerce buyer’s journey your website provides, let’s quickly explore the term.
Opinions differ on precisely what and how many stages make up the ecommerce buyer’s journey. To keep things simple, we’ve broken it down into just 3: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.
Stage #1 Awareness – “I have a problem”
The consumer encounters a pain point, a persistent problem they want to fix. In direct-to-consumer ecommerce this might be “I’m tired all the time”. In business-to-business ecommerce it might be “We’re wasting too much time inputting data manually”.
They start by researching their problem or need online to get more information. This helps them define and better understand the issue they face.
Stage #2: Consideration – “How can I fix my problem?”
Now that the consumer better understands their pain point, they start looking for a solution. If you’ve performed excellent search engine optimization (SEO), your products and services will hopefully appear at the top of their search results. Then, with an effective content marketing strategy, you can show why your brand is a great fit for their needs.
Stage #3: Decision – “This is the right solution for my problem”
The consumer has settled on a product or service they’re confident can solve their pain point. All that’s left for them to do is choose a provider and make a purchase.
4 steps to delivering a successful ecommerce buyer’s journey
Step 1: Ensure seamless, intuitive ecommerce website navigation
During the Awareness and Consideration stages, a consumer might visit your website through a Google search or your social media account. This is your opportunity to show them what makes your brand a great fit for their needs.
But if your website is difficult to navigate, they might lose interest and look somewhere else. 37% of users say that poor navigation and design cause them to leave a website. So you could be losing more than a third of your potential buyers before they know anything meaningful about you.
To deliver a strong online shopping experience, you need to ensure users know exactly how to click through your website and can easily find what they’re looking for. Improving your site navigation creates a better shopping experience, which leads to increased sales.
Follow these best practices to create seamless, intuitive navigation on your ecommerce website:
- Add a website logo linked to your homepage in the top-left corner: Users should always be able to return to your homepage at the click of a button. Most websites place a clickable logo in the top-left corner that navigates back to the homepage. If your website doesn’t work as they expect, shoppers will become frustrated.
- Put your primary navigation bar at the top or to the left of the page: Studies show that people read websites in F patterns. They start in the top-left corner, read along the top, and then move down the left-hand side. Putting your primary navigation bar here means a shopper’s eye will naturally move to it when they land on your website.
- Use the same design and layout through your website: This lets customers understand and navigate your site easily no matter what page they’re on.
- Put a search bar at the top of the page: Search functionality lets users skip straight to the product they want. You can enhance this feature with internal search filters and auto-complete options that show thumbnail images of your products.
- Organize your products into categories: An apparel brand could segment their products into “jeans”, “t-shirts”, “jackets”, and so on. This makes it easy for shoppers to find the items they want to buy. If a customer visits your site looking for something specific, the ability to find it quickly can mean the difference between a sale and lost revenue.
- Use breadcrumbs: These show visitors where they are on your site’s hierarchy of pages, as well as how they got to their current page. Breadcrumb navigation for an electronics retailer might look like this: Home > Computers > Audio Players > Home Audio > Speakers
- Clearly differentiate plain text and text links: Hyperlinks let users access specific pages at the touch of a button. But if they can’t tell what’s linked and what’s not, they won’t know what they can click. They might even accidentally click a text link and be taken away from the page they want to see.
Step 2: Provide lots of useful product information
Once a customer is aware of you, they enter the Consideration stage. This is when they start exploring your products.
But unlike visiting a brick-and-mortar store, online buyers can’t test, touch, or feel your products. So it’s important to provide high-quality images, videos, and descriptions that show shoppers exactly what they’re buying.
To make sure your potential customers have all the information they need, you can:
- Offer a range of images: Attractive thumbnail pictures draw customers in as they explore your site. Once they click on a product, let them view a short image gallery showing off its main features. You could also show lifestyle images of the product in use.
- Create short product videos: While online shoppers can’t test your products themselves, you can show them in use with product videos. This helps bridge the gap between the online and in-person shopping experiences.
- Write detailed product descriptions: Use short, specific, and engaging copy to tell consumers about each product’s benefits and features. You can also include information on what it’s made of, how to use it, and any warranties that are included.
- Include user reviews: More than 99.9% of consumers read reviews when shopping online. And 46% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from their loved ones. Honest reviews from other shoppers provide an unbiased opinion that can positively influence a potential customer’s buying decisions.
- Respond to negative reviews: Negative reviews happen. But you can make the best of a bad situation by reaching out to unsatisfied customers and doing your best to correct the problem. This lets you build a solid reputation for good customer service and encourages unhappy buyers to shop with you again.
Step 3: Streamline your checkout process
As soon as a customer puts a product in their cart, they’ve entered the Decision stage of their ecommerce buyer’s journey. But there’s still time for them to change their mind.
On average, a massive 70.19% of customers abandon their cart before checkout. That means for every 10 customers who add a product to their cart, fewer than 3 actually complete their purchase.
You can address this issue by optimizing your checkout process for quick and easy purchasing. To increase the number of completed sales through your ecommerce website:
- Offer a guest checkout option: While you should definitely encourage shoppers to make an account, don’t force them to go through the hassle just to place an order. People value the freedom to shop how they prefer. So offer a guest checkout option that allows them to make their purchase quickly.
- Offer one-click shopping: Let customers with an account save their address and payment details so they can order products with a single click. This one-click checkout can increase spending by around 28.5% from previous buying levels!
- Set up a triggered email flow: Entering customers into essential email flows for browse abandonment, cart abandonment, thank you messages, review requests, and post-purchase cross-selling can dramatically increase sales. They prompt potential customers to complete unfinished purchases and confirm they’ve made a smart decision once they buy.
- Offer discount coupons: If a customer abandons their cart, you can send them a coupon with a discount code to encourage them to buy. And sending a discount offer after their first purchase incentivizes them to make another. These can be highly effective means of ensuring a successful ecommerce buyer’s journey, building brand loyalty, and growing your revenue.
Step 4: Encourage customer advocacy
Word of mouth is an astonishingly effective marketing tool. In fact, 25-40% of all traffic and lead generation comes from earned media like reviews, social media mentions, and influencer shoutouts.
So once a potential customer has completed their ecommerce buyer’s journey, encourage them to talk about your products.
You could ask for customer reviews through follow-up emails or marketing collateral packaged with the order, and perhaps even offer benefits for doing so. Sometimes, even a simple “Snap a picture of yourself with your new product and tag us on Instagram!” does the trick.
The positive responses you get from happy customers have a huge impact on your future sales, brand reputation, and growth as an ecommerce business.
Better yet, optimize your buyer’s journey in just one step
Improving your website navigation, product information, checkout process, and customer advocacy strategy empowers you to create an ecommerce buyer’s journey that dramatically boosts your sales. But implementing these changes takes a lot of time and specialist skills that most ecommerce businesses don’t have on hand.
Instead, join dozens of ecommerce brands in making your buyer’s journey a revenue-boosting powerhouse with help from LimeLight Marketing. Our highly trained, experienced, and diversified team has the talent to bring in new customers by the truckload, letting you focus on running your business. That’s how we’ve been able to:
- Boost year-over-year conversions by 134% for the largest private business in America
- Turn a $400K apparel brand into a multi-million dollar revenue stream
- Triple quote requests for the country’s #1 commercial tire dealer
Get in touch with us now to build a profitable online buying experience that your customers will love!