Online store owners can improve their leads, sales, and retention by making common eCommerce customer touchpoints more enjoyable experiences. You have opportunities as your customers browse and shop to encourage them through the process and think positively of you. By breaking down the different stages of the eCommerce customer experience, you’ll discover different opportunities for optimization, personalization, and sales maximization.
In this post, we’ll look at 13 different touchpoints that happen during the Discovery, Consideration, Purchase, Order Completion, and Retention phases of the eCommerce customer experience:
- Social media
- Online influencers
- Sales pages
- Shopping carts
- Checkout process
- Confirmation emails
- Email follow-up
- Customer service and follow-up
- Apologize and solve
Don’t let this list overwhelm you. There are plenty of easy ways to make changes and improve your store, and each can bring people back and keep revenue growing.
Discovery Phase Touchpoints
The first series of eCommerce customer touchpoints are all about that individual shopper.
The stage is often called “Awareness” or “Discovery” because your target shopper is becoming aware of their need and discovering potential ways to address it.
In eCommerce, there is often little time between discovering the issue and starting the search for a solution because of current devices and content marketing.
When you have a problem and search for it online, you usually hit a mix of direct marketing and informational content around that topic. However, many of the informational blogs and pages are from companies selling products to address that issue. That’s where you’re likely targeting people as well.
The way to improve it is to ensure your discovery-focused elements are helpful and targeted so that the customer feels like you’re answering their problem instead of a general one. Demonstrate that you understand them and build trust.
Let’s look at ways to improve four common touchpoints in this phase.
#1 Social media
Write posts for your target personas, and post for each persona regularly.
Use this part of the eCommerce customer experience to address the person, their issue, and why they want to solve it. Typically, there’s an emotion involved with either the problem or the solution. Target that emotion to create your connection.
#2 Online influencers
Influencers and podcasters are a growing space for discovery and information. People are becoming just as likely to Google an issue as they are to search on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, especially for more complex topics.
Consider creating a roundup of your favorite podcasts and episodes, sharing this list, or sponsoring a podcast related to an issue your products address.
Search ads are still a dominant place to catch someone’s attention first, especially if you have great visuals.
Instead of mirroring the customer’s question, answer it with the feeling or goal they want to achieve. This camping example is useful because one ad targets the desire for adventure while the other addresses a major parental fear for any vacation: boredom.
Creating targeted content helps people find you during their early searches and discovery.
What’s important is ensuring that website content answers the customer’s question. Prioritize the answer instead of keyword stuffing to try and rank. Google’s semantic search will do the heavy lifting of connecting someone’s question with your answer when your answer is relevant.
This Ahrefs guide will help you understand changes to your SEO and website that can help.
Consideration and The eCommerce Customer Experience
When the customer starts to search specifically for the solution to their issue, they shop around often.
Your online store is compared to other eCommerce options and potentially to brick-and-mortar stores. So, you’ve got to compete on multiple levels, not only to be enticing but the right option for what someone adds to their cart.
The two most significant barriers to creating a positive eCommerce customer experience at this stage are crowded sales pages and low-quality shopping carts.
#1 Sales pages
While eCommerce is booming, many customers still compare your store to the ease of shopping in person.
You’re at a disadvantage because customers can’t touch your products or quickly scan through rows and rows of goods. To still offer a compelling experience, sales pages need to be targeted to customers and personas, then optimized for shopping based on what today’s customer wants.
The latest data shows that shoppers want to see nice, high-quality images, read product reviews, and easily browse. They hate when sites are slow to load or visually hard to navigate.
You may want to consider adding contact options like chatbots or live chats if you can afford it. This allows customers to ask questions from a sales page. You can overcome many objections or address things usually stated in FAQs, such as shipping costs, without making the customer navigate away.
If your eCommerce platform cannot satisfy loading speed demand from the customers, consider re-platforming with LitExtension to ensure no sales lost!
#2 Shopping carts
Adding a product to a shopping cart can be a positive or negative experience, depending on if the cart and navigation are helpful or not.
Prioritize information, not navigation, for this eCommerce customer touchpoint. Give users a summary at a glance, add links for support like chat, include as much pricing information as possible, and don’t make the cart automatically navigate away from a page.
You want to allow your customers to keep browsing and have a checkout option — via cart button — on any sales page.
Keep things simple and continually streamline the process so that there is less opportunity for your audience to abandon a cart.
Purchase-Based eCommerce Customer Touchpoints
Not everyone considers the individual steps of the purchase process to be a touchpoint, but we think that’s important for eCommerce because your shopper can bail at any point.
That little “X” at the top of the tab or screen is always just a click away, even after they’ve typed in a credit card number. Plus, it’s easier than ever to cancel a purchase or request a refund.
There are three big areas of importance are your checkout forms, what’s displayed during the process, and your first confirmation email.
#1 Checkout process
The overall checkout process should prioritize purchase completion by being as frictionless as possible and maintaining trust.
Trust typically means displaying security logos and trust marks as well as supporting the payment options your audience prefers.
You can also add in third-party proof like where your store has been mentioned or customer reviews.
Look for ways to add social proof specific to your platform. When it comes to removing friction, focus efforts on the questions you ask in forms. And if possible, offer them fast or free shipping for every purchase.
Keep people engaged by simplifying your checkout forms.
eMerchants should reduce the number of form fields displayed at checkout by consider trying a single “full name” field instead of one for first and one for last names.
Another way is to give people reasons to fill out optional information, such as noting that you send out a birthday coupon but don’t make the field required.
Don’t forget to use the information the customer provides in real-time when possible. That includes automatically updating shipping costs and time estimates or allowing people to check a box when billing and shipping are the same.
Swissup Labs created this GIF of the PUMA checkout process to show how quickly users can navigate through a simplified experience.
#3 Confirmation emails
The eCommerce customer experience continues until the product is delivered and the customer decides to keep it. That makes purchase just a midway point, meaning you need to transition the customer to the next step in their journey.
The best way to achieve that is with a confirmation email that’s useful to the customer.
Useful means a few core elements should be present:
- Confirm the purchase and provide a receipt using a good PDF invoice template that's downloadable across devices.
- Offer tracking data if possible — your eCommerce platform should have plugins that work with order management tools to make this possible at the point an order is processed
- Explain next steps, such as how you create a product, fill an order, ship it, etc.
- Contact information in case the reader has any questions
Keep these emails brief and deploy mobile-friendly designs to make it easy for every customer to skim. Your goal is to keep customers excited about the purchase and not let them get frustrated with waiting or uncertainty.
Directly from a Fresh Hoods follow-up email.
That confirmation email pushes your customers to their next eCommerce touchpoint phase: completing the order. Here, people need to get what they expect on-time and free of damage, with notice and information along the way.
These are still touchpoints because a customer can decide to return the product or seek a refund. Your revenue from the sale isn’t quite bankable yet.
So, keep people engaged and happy by delivering on your order promises.
The unboxing trend has lasted for nearly a decade because there’s joy in getting exactly what you wanted in the mail.
Order fulfillment should be designed to capitalize on that joy by being accurate, on-time, and keeping the focus on the product. You want someone to open the box and focus on your amazing product, not question why such a big box was used or deal with frustrating packaging.
Fulfillment is largely behind-the-scenes work. You need a reliable warehouse and team to pick and pack orders, check them multiple times before sealing up the box, and move quickly enough that you can ship things on time without needing to pay for expedited costs.
Mistakes can harm your business and increase your rate of returns and refunds.
As companies grow, fulfillment costs scale can become more of an issue. If you’re struggling, consider outsourcing fulfillment as a way to save money while getting guarantees of order speed and accuracy.
#2 Email follow-up
Confirmation emails are just the first step in your post-sale sequence.
Continue to reach out to customers as they wait for products and after their order arrives. Be helpful and informative. Automate emails during shipping to let customers know when milestones are hit, such as an order being shipped and the day it is expected to arrive.
Don’t be overly long or pushy about future sales.
The work here is to give updates without the customer needing to take action to ask. If you feel it’s absolutely necessary to make a pitch in this cadence, stick to asking people for their thoughts on the shopping or checkout eCommerce customer experience. Focusing on product reviews and questions can backfire if they repeatedly arrive before the order does.
Finally, you want your customer to be happy enough with their first order to come back for more. Retention is about providing a high-quality experience and then making it easy for the customer to turn that into the next step. While an additional purchase is a goal, the touchpoint is the communication and service you provide to help convince someone to remain. One benefit of retention-focused efforts is that you can turn a negative event into an overall positive.
#1 Customer service and follow-up
Customer retention starts with data and understanding.
You’ll need to track users to see how they’ve shopped and returned in the past, as well as when they’ve left and why. Email follow-ups and surveys are a great way to determine satisfaction. When someone loves a product here, you can then move them to later sales-focused email campaigns personalized to their interests.
Continue to reach out proactively and monitor other channels for reviews and comments, especially negative ones.
The channels to track will depend on your customer profiles, but you can start by prioritizing the channels that lead to sales. You’ll likely need efforts across multiple channels to reach all shoppers and address concerns as well as positive reviews.
Some channels to consider include:
- Website chatbots and live chat
- Support tickets and emails
- Checking social media and review sites for comments
- General email follow-ups and loyalty campaigns
- Phone help for your most loyal or lucrative customers
#2 Apologize and solve
Sometimes, things can go wrong. Mistakes happen to every company and customer. When they’re your fault, own up to it and apologize directly. That can be hard to do, but it’s extremely important for optimizing the eCommerce customer experience. It’s profitable too.
According to HubSpot, up to 96% of your audience will continue buying from you if you apologize and rectify the problem. Getting this right means having a procedure for how to say you’re sorry and clear guidelines for teams to fix any issue.
Build A Better eCommerce Customer Experience
It’s a lot of work to target and manage eCommerce customer touchpoints, especially if your goal is to create more return shoppers.
Your actions must be purposeful and based on your audience’s success and failures. When you’re struggling with these, remember why we’re suggesting these improvements.
Customer relationships, revenue, and retention can all be enhanced by focusing on your audience. Solving their issues and making their shopping easier makes your store more compelling.
When you keep shopping enjoyable, customers will want to seek out that experience again, just like you do with your favorite stores and brands. Become the place you’d want to shop at regularly.