As reported by Internet Retailer, the projected online global consumer spending by 2019 will more than double to $3.551 trillion of the global spending in 2015, accounting for 12.4% of the total retail sales. These numbers show that consumer inclination toward online shopping is increasing. However, the gap between what consumers want and what they get is also widening. This is where the importance of providing visitors a friction-free experience across an eCommerce conversion funnel stems from.
Competition also has been becoming increasingly fierce. Global marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba are eating into a large share of the retail market. Numbers from Ecommerce News suggest that by 2020, Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba will own at least 40% of the global retail market. eCommerce enterprises and retailers, however, are confident that they can one-up players like eBay by providing enhanced customer experience and services.
eCommerce enterprises also realize that the modern consumer/customer journey is complex. Empowered and informed consumers neither have the patience nor any reason to buy from eCommerce establishments that fail to provide instant gratification.
In this blog post, we talk about how eCommerce enterprises can smooth out friction at each stage of the eCommerce conversion funnel—awareness, consideration, and purchase. We discuss how enterprises, regardless of where the customer enters the funnel, can provide an enhanced and optimized customer experience.
Addressing Pain Points at the Awareness Stage
A consumer at the awareness stage already has a preconceived notion, which is molded by social and digital content. The ability of consumers to create, absorb, and distribute information has increased manifold. The following Deloitte Consumer Review 2014, which represents consumer attitude toward digital content, validates the same.
To stand a chance of gaining user attention/awareness in the digital eCommerce arena, online enterprises need to ensure that they have a strong digital content strategy in place, which consists of formulating a clear objective, understanding the target audience, determining the brand’s voice, and more.
Let’s also not forget the impact of search engine optimization on accessibility and online presence. Forbes talks about SEO key trends 2016 for eCommerce, highlighting the measures that enterprises can ensure to grow their online presence . A MOZ post discusses the changing face of search in the age of video transcription.
With mobile usage on the rise, consumers expect high quality and variety of content to be available on their smartphones. However, according to BrightEdge Content Engagement Report 2015, more than 1 in 4 mobile sites is misconfigured, which results in an average 68% loss of smartphone traffic to that content. These statistics don’t frame a great picture, given that the Google searches via mobile have already surpassed desktop searches.
While eCommerce enterprises need to optimize quality content for awareness through search, they need to do so with the goal of acquiring quality traffic. Analyze where most of your traffic is coming from. Go a step further to find out the traffic sources that are driving most engagements.
After you have figured out the traffic sources that are driving most conversions, you can create a winning user engagement strategy for those channels. Here’s an interesting case study on how Michael Kors integrates Instagram and other social media to boost eCommerce and store revenue.
Addressing Pain Points at the Consideration Stage
A consumer at the consideration stage is well aware of your existence. The problem for eCommerce enterprises to address at this stage is understanding their visitors’ intent and motivations—what do the visitors want and what would make them convert. Addressing the following questions can help eCommerce enterprises ease the users’ pain points.:
- Why certain visitors don’t buy right away while others do?
- What can alter a visitor’s buying behavior?
- What distractions can put off a potential customer?
Taking a predictive action approach at this stage of the funnel is one way of dealing with the friction before it happens. This approach requires creating customer personas, mapping user journeys to understand how users interact and engage with your website, and then using this information to work out tactics that ease user interactions and experiences.
Visitor recordings and heatmaps, as well as user feedback gathering tools such as on-page surveys, can be deployed by eCommerce enterprises to gain clear insights into the what and why of on-site behaviors of visitors.
Losing potential customers to competition at the consideration stage is another big challenge for eCommerce enterprises. Although an understanding of customer intent and motivation can make visitors’ experiences delightful—even to the extent that they come back or spread a positive word around—there are high chances that even a positive on-site experience doesn’t make them buy from you.
Reason? Visitors at any stage of conversion are continuously relying on their own research and user-generated and influencer-generated content to reconsider their purchase decision.
Influencing Purchase at the Consideration Stage
There are a number of things influencing buyer behavior at the consideration stage. A ready-to-convert visitor might interact with your website and go back to the consideration stage if he/she is able to find a better deal elsewhere.
One of Harvard Business Review posts talk about why users need not choose a fixed path to conversion. An extract from the same HBR article is quoted below:
“Julie Bornstein, CMO at Sephora, has seen social media change how people buy beauty products. Recommendations from friends have always been important, but now these recommendations spread ‘quicker, faster, and further’ at every stage in the funnel. The decision on what to buy increasingly comes from advocates who share their experience in a way that pulls in new customers and informs their purchase decision. Sephora’s response has been to bring all the stages of the funnel together at a single place, creating its own online community where people can ask experts and each other about brands, products, and techniques.”
From a user’s perspective, User-Generated Content (UGC) helps build trust and mitigates the fear of buying, which could otherwise have been a huge point of friction. It has also changed the way eCommerce businesses build engagement. For a complete picture on how UGC can be leveraged, check out this article by MAVSOCIAL. Using trust seals and testimonials is equally important for easing out the fear of being cheated or misled. For more insights on the importance of trust, read how this eCommerce business established credibility by adding a trust badge and increased its conversion rate by 72.05%.
The takeaway here is to keep the visitor engaged through your eCommerce website and build trust. This can be achieved using a good mix of predictive analysis, user-generated content, and leveraging principles of persuasion that can turn user buying behavior in your favor (consider FOMO). User interface is another parameter that eCommerce enterprises must test and improve for driving more visitor engagement at the consideration stage of the funnel.
Addressing Pain Points at the Conversion Stage
The decision is made in your favor, and the visitor is going through the checkout on your site to buy the product. What could stop a visitor from converting at this stage? Is it that the visitor’s preferred mode of payment was not available? Is it that your shipping costs are exorbitantly high? VWO’s Shopping Cart Abandonment Report 2016 states, “One-fourth of the respondents will not check out if they encounter unexpected shipping cost.”
Regardless of the length of the checkout, the goal for eCommerce enterprises should always be to make the checkout distraction-free.
Consider Amazon’s example: At checkout, they have only two options listed—place order or close the window. Not providing unnecessary navigation options on the checkout eliminates distraction at this final step.
A thorough usability study for their checkout can help eCommerce enterprises find out what needs to be fixed and what can be made better. Here’s a usability benchmark of 100 eCommerce sites that have been ranked by Baymard, according to their checkout usability performance.
Another article by Baymard talks about mobile checkout usability, which is no less important than website optimization, considering that people are browsing their phones more than ever. However, there is still a huge potential for retailers to drive conversions directly from mobile.
Optimizing for mobiles and tablets becomes all the more important because consumers often browse one device and buy from another. The meandering that happens between different devices before a visitor converts, requires eCommerce enterprises to track and analyze cross-device behaviors.
An ideal funnel in the current dynamically changing times is not only the one that drives more conversions, but also the one that is able to provide exactly what customers want. Whether consumers are in the awareness, consideration, or conversion stage of the buying journey, eCommerce enterprises can help improve the online buying experience by understanding and addressing frictions at each stage.
What do you suggest can ease user pain-points at each stage of the eCommerce conversion funnel? Comment and let us know.