Understanding the E-commerce Customer Journey

Understanding the E-commerce Customer Journey

E-commerce customer journeys and helps shape brand initiatives to move them closer to conversion
The number of e-commerce users worldwide is expected to grow to over 4.8 million by 2025, according to Statista. With more consumers making online purchases, it is imperative that brands understand the e-commerce customer journey and maximize opportunities at each stage. Let’s take a closer look.

The E-commerce Customer Journey

Stakes are high for retailers hoping to capture a piece of the e-commerce market: Statista estimates that e-commerce transactions will bring in an average revenue of $1,028 per user. The market will only grow larger with e-commerce user penetration projected to reach 54.1% this year and hit 62.5% by 2025.

Brands must prepare—not only to serve but to anticipate potential customers’ needs, from the first moment they visit an e-commerce site to checkout. To do this, retailers must find the right digital tools to analyze each stage of the customer journey so they can understand what leads are looking for.

E-commerce customers’ journeys differ from brand to brand but can generally be broken down into four stages: awareness, engagement, conversion, and return. Let’s examine how data equips brands with insights to understand and transform their e-commerce customer journeys.

1. Awareness

Once a user lands on the website, they have begun the e-commerce customer journey. Lead generation tactics like targeted advertising and social media content often direct prospective customers to an e-commerce home page. Upon arrival, visitors typically take a cursory look to decide which website element to interact with. Brands can analyze visitors’ homepage behavior to answer the following questions:

  • What captures customers’ attention?
  • Where do they click first?
  • How likely are visitors to click on the main banner/sale, or offer/promo sections?
  • How many visitors bounce off the e-commerce site’s home page/landing page?

A website heatmap tool helps answer these questions by identifying which visual elements on a page get the most user attention. A heatmap visualizes customers’ page interactions and shows which areas get the most clicks and mouse hovers, a bit like dusting for digital “fingerprints.” This record of behaviors offers clues about a visitor’s intent and whether they are getting the information they need in order to continue their e-commerce journey.

2. Engagement

If visitors decide to stay on the website, they enter the next phase of the journey: engagement. This is where users begin to search for the product that has captured their interest. Users may also engage with other touchpoints such as content, videos, or reviews to gather more information before making a purchase.

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The path that visitors take to navigate from the homepage or landing page to their destination provides retailers with insights including:

  • How many clicks does it take for customers to get to their target from the homepage?
  • What percentage of customers navigate directly to their destination?
  • What percentage of customers use the search bar?
  • How do I make users’ journeys shorter and more efficient?

Brands can answer these questions by running analytics tools to determine page views, pages per visit, average time on page, and other relevant metrics. These should then be visualized and ideally updated with each customer visit to capture an accurate snapshot of their journey. Analytics tools can also be used to identify obstacles in a user’s path that could derail or delay them from conversion.

3. Conversion

Let’s say a customer has found what they’re looking for and is finally ready to buy. Retailers should examine the following data to optimize the customer experience at this critical stage:

  • What is the average time users spend on the page?
  • What elements get the most clicks? For example: product photos, product information, or discount vouchers?
  • How many customers complete or abandon their transactions?
  • Are there factors affecting the conversion rate? For example: Do abandonment rates spike after customers check shipping options?

Insights from these behavioral data help retailers zero in on lingering concerns and questions before customers commit to a purchase. Uncovering patterns in behavior also helps identify pain points that affect customers in subtle but significant ways.

Alternatively, brands can obtain qualitative information about customers’ experiences by directly asking customers after conversion. In-store and online post-purchase surveys offer customers a chance to voice their approval, frustrations, or expectations regarding the conversion experience. This kind of input can be described, according to Forrester’s definition, as zero-party data, which is data that a customer shares intentionally with a brand.

4. Loyalty

The point of conversion isn’t the last stage of the e-commerce customer journey. Converted customers often return to make repeat purchases or complete other transactions. If brands can secure converted customers’ loyalty, they can enjoy benefits such as higher lifetime value, cross-sell and upsell opportunities, and advocacy.

Understanding the customer is critical to making the most of the loyalty stage in e-commerce customers’ journeys:

  • Who is the customer?
  • Is there a pattern to loyal customers’ purchases?
  • What brand actions motivate converted customers to return to the e-commerce site?
  • What recommendations work best with specific audiences among converted customers?

Knowing your customers entails a comprehensive solution that unifies customer profiles and collects data from every interaction. With such a strong customer data foundation, brands gain a richer, deeper understanding of their e-commerce customers’ journeys.

In summary, retailers and e-commerce merchants can make the most out of customers’ digital journeys by analyzing customers’ pathways to purchase. Starting from the point of awareness to engagement and finally to conversion and return, brands can use data to develop insights and serve consumer needs at every stage to move them closer to conversion.

Get Insight on Customers’ Journeys With Treasure Data Customer Data Cloud

Treasure Data’s enterprise-grade customer data platform is trusted by Fortune 500 and Global 2000 companies worldwide. See what you can do with Treasure Data Customer Data Cloud:

  • Collect and centralize customer data from all sources
  • Unify customer profiles using online + offline data
  • Analyze customer journeys and derive actionable insights using machine learning techniques
  • Personalize customer experience at all customer journey stages
  • And more

Our platform seamlessly connects with Google Analytics along with other business intelligence and analytics tools to analyze customers’ journeys and deploy the right activations. Check out some of our integrations:

Treasure Data Customer Data Cloud is an integrated suite of cloud-based customer data platform solutions that helps companies improve campaign performance, achieve operational efficiency, and create connected customer experiences.

To learn more about how Treasure Data Customer Data Cloud helps brands understand the e-commerce customer journey, consult an expert today. Want to learn more? Request a demo, call 1.866.899.5386, or contact us for more information.

Kellie de Leon
Kellie de Leon
Kellie de Leon is the Senior Director of Content Marketing at Treasure Data. She is a marketer, writer, and speaker who is passionate about delivering relevant and valuable experiences for customers throughout the buyer’s journey to drive business growth. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
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