Business, Strategy
June 11, 2020
Setting up your path to purchase for eCommerce
Setting up your path to purchase for eCommerce

By Candace Huntly

Even though things are starting to open up again, it might be a while before people feel 100% comfortable shopping around in a store. If you have a storefront and you haven’t already explored setting up shop online, it’s better late than never! If you already have an eCommerce store set up, are you doing all you can to create a great customer experience? It’s time to take back some of the market share from the big guys.

Setting up your eCommerce site is only part of the equation. You need to map out your customer path to purchase to know how they will find you and what steps they will ultimately take to make their final purchase decision. You have to consider things like bounce rates at any given point in their journey, abandoned carts, and the speed at which they make their decision. But how do you know where to start?

The customer journey

In order to build a path to purchase for your customers that makes sense for your business, you first need to understand the overarching steps of the customer journey in general.

  1. Awareness: Your potential customer needs to find you somehow, whether it is through social media, referrals, Google search, etc.
  2. Consideration: Most customers will do research about competitors, products, and price before making a final decision.
  3. Purchase: Your customer makes the final purchase/no purchase decision.
  4. Engage: You should interact with your customer after their purchase to deliver great customer service and help to build loyalty.

Breaking it down

Now that you know the overall steps in the customer journey, how does it relate to your eCommerce strategy?

Step 1: Awareness

In this first step, your target audience has to find you in some way. It’s at this stage that they discover your brand – who you are and what you have to offer. In order to connect with your target audience at this stage you need to create moments for people to discover you. Find out where they spend all of their time online and build those channels into your strategy.

Things to consider at this stage:

  • Click-through rates: How effective are the selected channels in driving traffic to your eCommerce site.
  • Platform demographics: What is the majority audience on your selected channels/platforms? Are there better options for your target audience?
  • Brand fit on platform: Does it make sense for your brand to be on a specific platform? (ie. If you don’t have a very visual brand, maybe Instagram isn’t the right fit for you.)
  • Resources available to execute a strategy on the selected platform(s): You don’t need to be everywhere – what can you handle with the time and budget you have available?

Step 2: Consideration

At this stage, your target audience is evaluating their options – which includes a lot of research. Your main focus to start should be creating well-written product pages that are descriptive and easy to navigate. You want people to do as much research as possible without navigating away from your website. Focus on both product features and benefits. Where possible, provide social proof in the form of case studies or customer reviews.

Things to consider at this stage:

  • Purchase incentives: Offering things like free shipping or expedited delivery will sweeten the deal.
  • Customer service experience: Making it easy for people to get information and navigate through the entire process will leave them feeling positive about your brand.

Step 3: Purchase

Eventually, people will make a decision one way or the other. The bulk of your work attracting customers happens before this point. However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t lose potential customers throughout the purchase process. You still need to focus on creating a great customer experience at this stage. You also shouldn’t force people to register for an account before they make a purchase, but definitely offer it after the fact.

Things to consider at this stage:

  • Secure checkout: When it comes to money and personal information, people want to know that you can protect them.
  • Keep it simple: The more you can do to create an easy, linear process the better.

Step 4: Engage

So you made the sale. That’s it right? Wrong! Once a sale is made you need to put as much work into keeping your customers happy and building loyalty as you did educating and selling to them. This involves things like superior customer support for any issues that arise, requesting and encouraging feedback (remember, reviews make it easier for future customers to do research!), and just general connection and community building efforts to keep your brand top of mind.

Things to consider at this stage:

  • Newsletter sign up: A newsletter is a great way to keep in touch – but you need to make sure you are providing value, not just email clutter.
  • Loyalty programs: Offer incentives for repeat sales and referrals.

eCommerce has become more of a necessity than a nice to have for so many retail brands. The challenge – beyond finding ways to make your brand standout – is to create the best possible customer experience from the moment they discover you and well beyond the purchase. What are you doing to create a great customer experience? If you aren’t sure if your customer path to purchase is effective or you aren’t getting the results you want, set up a FREE 20-minute consultation with us!

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