How to Improve the Online Shopping Journey
March 12, 2021
by Rebecca Fox

Customers expect a seamless, efficient, and enjoyable online shopping journey from start to finish. By understanding and improving your store’s online shopping journey you can better meet the needs of your customers, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce returns. 

What is the Online Shopping Journey?

The online shopping journey refers to the series of steps a customer goes through from the moment they become aware of a product or service to the moment they decide to purchase it and beyond. 

An ideal online shopping journey is designed to meet the needs and expectations of customers, creating a seamless and satisfying customer experience.

1. Awareness 

The first stage of the online shopping journey is awareness. This is the stage when the customer becomes aware of your products, usually through channels such as search engines, social media, and online ads.

To capture customers’ attention in this stage, it’s important to have a strong online presence, with a well-designed website, active marketing, and clear, concise messaging. 

Focus on creating engaging and informative content that shows the benefits of your products and positions your store as a solution to your customers’ needs. 

2. Consideration 

In the consideration stage, the customer begins to gather more information about the product they’re interested in. They might research your product’s features, compare it with similar products, read customer reviews, and so on.

To effectively engage customers in the consideration stage, it’s important to provide detailed product information, including product details, photos, and reviews. 

You can also offer incentives such as special promotions, discounts, or loyalty programs to encourage customers to buy from your store and give you a competitive advantage.

Another important aspect of the consideration stage is making sure that customers can easily compare different products and competitors. A well-designed website with intuitive navigation and filtering options can make your customers’ decision-making process easier.

Comparison tables can also help customers compare products more easily. Amazon, for example, includes comparison tables on its product pages to make it easy to compare similar products and make a purchasing decision.

3. Acquisition 

Once customers have made their decision, they move on to the acquisition stage. This is where the customer makes the actual purchase. 

Your online shopping journey should make it easy for customers to complete the transaction, providing a short and clear path to purchase.

What is the Path to Purchase?

The path to purchase refers to the series of steps that customers go through to make a purchase. Your goal should be to make the purchasing process as easy as possible for customers. 

The typical path to purchase usually consists of around 4-6 stages: Going to the website, clicking through to the product page, adding to the cart, going to the cart, checkout, and receiving a confirmation email.

How to improve the path to purchase:

  • Offer direct purchases – Don’t require customers to create an account on your site in order to buy.
  • Use multi-channel eCommerce – Make it easy for customers to buy your products on multiple channels, such as directly from social media.
  • Provide fast delivery – Deliver products in a timely manner and package them safely.

4. Retention 

Customer retention refers to keeping the customer engaged and satisfied with their experience once they made a purchase. This is an important step in the online shopping journey because it is what creates customer loyalty and repeat business.

At this stage, the customer has already made a purchase and has developed a relationship with your store. Retention is about creating loyal customers who come back to buy from your store again and again.

Loyal customers are one of the most valuable assets your eCommerce store can have as the average amount spent per purchase by loyal customers is 67% higher than by new customers.

Because retaining existing customers is much more cost-effective than looking for new ones, it’s important to keep your customers coming back to your store by providing an excellent post-purchase experience. 

Keep customers engaged after checkout with post-purchase emails, loyalty programs, and a convenient return process. 

By providing value to customers beyond the initial purchase, you can build strong, lasting relationships with your customers and increase the average customer lifetime value.

5. Advocacy 

The final stage of the online shopping journey is advocacy. By this stage, your customers have built a positive relationship with your store and are eager to tell others about it. 

Satisfied customers are likely to recommend your store to their friends and family, leading to organic growth and increased customer acquisition.

To boost customer advocacy, make sure to provide high-quality customer service and engage with customers on a regular basis. You can use incentives such as referral programs and discounts to encourage referrals.

It’s also important to be active on social media and other platforms where customers share their experiences. Encouraging customers to leave reviews, participate in sponsored events, and engage with your store online can help drive advocacy and increase brand awareness.

Why is the Online Shopping Journey Important?

The online shopping journey is important because it impacts customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as the likelihood of customers buying from your store again or recommending it to others.

A well-designed online shopping journey can lead to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and repeat business, while a confusing or frustrating shopping journey can lead to customer churn and negatively impact your store’s reputation.

By understanding and improving the online shopping journey, you can tailor your customer experience to meet the needs of your customers at each stage.

How To Improve Your Online Shopping Journey

By understanding the current customer experience and visualizing its ideal state you can improve various customer touchpoints and improve the online shopping journey 

Here are a few strategies to provide a seamless online shopping experience for your customers, from pre-purchase through post-purchase.

Have Clear Calls to Action

Calls to action (CTAs) are an integral part of the online shopping journey, as they guide customers toward taking the next step. 

CTAs can be used to encourage customers to take actions such as add items to their cart, complete a purchase, or sign up for a newsletter. 

Make your calls to action clear, prominent, and easy to understand. 

Here are some tips for creating clear calls to action:

  • Use action-oriented language – Use clear and action-oriented language, such as “Shop Now” or “Learn More”, to encourage customers to take action.
  • Make them prominent – Place calls to action in noticeable areas of your website, such as the header or footer, and make sure they stand out visually.
  • Offer multiple options – Provide customers with multiple options for taking action, such as “Add to Cart” and “Buy Now”, to cater to different preferences and needs.

By creating clear and effective calls to action, you can guide customers through the online shopping journey and increase conversion rates.

Write Detailed Product Descriptions

Providing detailed and accurate product descriptions can play a major role in the online shopping journey as they provide customers with the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions and reduce the likelihood of returns.

Product descriptions are particularly important in the awareness, consideration, and acquisition stages, where customers are looking for information about products to help them determine if they meet their needs and wants, evaluate different options, and make a confident and informed purchase. 

Here are some key factors to consider when writing product descriptions:

  • Use clear and concise language – Product descriptions should be easy to read and understand. Avoid using technical jargon or complicated language that may confuse customers.
  • Highlight unique features – Unique features and benefits of your products can help set them apart from others on the market.
  • Include product details – Product details such as size, fit, and material, are important information that customers want to know before making a purchase.
  • Use high-quality images – High-quality images can help customers better understand your products and their features. Use multiple images and videos from different angles to provide a full view of the product.

Optimize your product descriptions to improve your customers’ online shopping journey by reducing returns and increasing customer satisfaction.

Send Cart Abandonment Emails

Send cart abandonment emails to customers who have added items to their shopping cart but have not completed the purchase to remind them of the items left in their cart and encourage them to complete the purchase.

Almost 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned without completing the purchase. Cart abandonment emails are a great way to keep the conversation going with this valuable group of potential customers.

In order to be effective, cart abandonment emails should be well-designed, personalized, and timely. 

Include clear calls to action and a sense of urgency, reminding customers why they added the items to their cart in the first place and encouraging them to complete the purchase. 

Additionally, you can offer incentives such as discounts or special promotions to encourage customers to return and complete their purchase immediately.

Sending cart abandonment emails can help improve the online shopping journey by reducing the number of abandoned shopping carts, increasing sales, and improving customer satisfaction. 

By reaching out to customers who have shown interest in your products, you can provide them with the motivation and information they need to complete the purchase, enhancing their online shopping experience.

Improve Your Return Process

Returns are an essential and often-overlooked part of the online shopping journey.

Make the return process easy and stress-free for customers to improve the shopping journey and increase customer loyalty. 

To improve your return process:

  • Create a clear return policy – Make your return policy easy to understand and easily accessible through your website, emails, and checkout page.
  • Make it easy to return items – Provide a convenient return process to improve the online shopping journey. Customers are more likely to enjoy the customer experience if they know they can easily return or exchange items if needed.
  • Provide a range of return methods – Give customers multiple options for their returns, including how they return the items, and what kind of refund or exchange they get. 

A well-designed return process can help increase customer satisfaction and encourage repeat business, as customers are more likely to shop with stores that offer a hassle-free return experience. 

By offering flexible return options, a clear return policy, and a convenient return process, you can help customers feel confident in their purchases and reduce the stress and uncertainty often associated with returning items.

Mapping the Online Shopping Journey

Mapping the online shopping journey is the process of identifying and understanding the steps a customer goes through when shopping online. With this information, you can improve your customer experience and grow your business.

What is a Shopping Journey Map?

A shopping journey map is a visual representation of the customer’s experience when shopping online at your store. 

It shows the different stages of the online shopping journey, customer pain points, the touchpoints they interact with along the way, and opportunities you have for moving them along in their shopping journey. 

Mapping your shopping journey is important because it helps you look at how your customers actually experience your store, and if you understand your customers better, you can better meet their needs.

Customer Journey Touchpoints

Customer journey touchpoints are the various points of interaction between your customers and your brand during the online shopping journey. These touchpoints can include website navigation, customer reviews, customer service interactions, and so on. 

Understanding customer touchpoints is essential for mapping the customer journey, as it enables you to identify opportunities to improve the customer experience.

How to Map Your Online Shopping Journey

Mapping your online shopping journey involves the following steps:

1. Define customer segments – Identify your target audience and their unique needs and expectations.

2. Gather data – Collect data from sources such as customer feedback, website analytics, and surveys to better understand the customer experience.

3. Identify touchpoints – Determine the various touchpoints along the customer journey, including website navigation, customer service interactions, etc.

4. Map the journey – Using the data collected, create a visual representation of the shopping journey, highlighting the different stages, touchpoints, and customer pain points.

5. Analyze your map – Analyze your online shopping journey map to pinpoint friction points and areas where the customer experience could be improved.

6. Implement improvements – Apply your insights to the customer journey, testing and refining as necessary.

By mapping the online shopping journey, you can gain a deeper understanding of the customer experience, identify opportunities for improvement, and create a more seamless shopping journey for your customers.

Optimize The Online Shopping Journey

The online shopping journey is a crucial aspect of eCommerce, as it directly affects customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

By mapping the online shopping journey and understanding the various customer journey touchpoints, you can identify areas for improvement and create a more personalized and seamless shopping experience. 

Implement strategies such as clear calls to action, detailed product descriptions, cart abandonment emails, and an improved return process to drive customer satisfaction and increase business growth. 

Keep monitoring and refining the online shopping journey to provide an excellent customer experience.

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