The customer journey is one of the key components of e-commerce. However, this is traditionally not given enough attention on the merchant side. During exceptional times, the behaviour of visitors in the stores has also changed. What should a merchant know and how to take advantage of the changed behaviour of customers in the shop?
The customer journey focuses to visualize the customer's flow in the shop from the first glance to the last second. In the optimal situation, it is easy for the customer to enter the store, find the products they want and add them to the shopping cart. In the end, they go home through the checkout and wait for the package to arrive.
However, entering an online store can happen in numerous ways compared to more traditional physical stores. Visitors don’t always come via a so called "front door", also known as the front page. You can enter the stores via a list of different landing pages. This can happen either deliberately or accidentally. Usually the majority of visitors enter these landing pages via search engines and secondly landing page specific links shared by other people. It is the responsibility of the merchant to provide all visitors with a successful experience and to support the customer's journey in the shop.
Who leads and who?
It is crucial to understand that a merchant builds and develops the store and its offering. The layout and functionalities of the store can be used to guide customers. However, customers decide for themselves how to move in there. Analysing the data of tens of our Shopify stores, I've noticed that many visitors interact with your online shopping quite unexpected way. So, every customer is by no means the same.
The merchant can't control people's movements and procedures, but the merchant can try to make the visit clear, pleasant and consistent by their own actions. If the shop is logical and easy to navigate, the customer will not pay attention to the individual technical gimmicks. This often leads to pleasant visits where stories and products get required attention. The end result is a commercial success.
However, the roles and responsibilities need to be clear as the behaviour of visitors to the store may change in different situations. The impetus for change can be internal, like a sales campaign. Or an external one, such as a virus pandemic. This means that the same customer can behave in a new way in a shop simply because of a changed situation.
How has customer behaviour changed?
I've been doing data analysis to our client’s online stores with the help of our growth team. In short summary, customer behaviour in stores has changed significantly.
The first thing to note is the number of shop visits that have grown on average. All things considered people have more time to spend online. Visitors will also enter the stores at different times of the day than usually. For example, the quieter hours of weekdays have attracted more visitors. We have seen also clear changes in session durations. By average users are spending bit more time especially on landing pages, that have lots of information.
We have also noticed the importance of search functions. Especially for stores, which have lots of selection starting from thousand products upwards. For example, one of our customers has seen a nearly 200 percent increase in searches at their store compared to normal. Also, the importance of blogs and content should be highlighted. On another example, blog viewers have almost doubled, and the blog is now an actual step of every third customer journey. After you have spent your time there, you end up buying products directly from the store.
Perhaps the biggest discovery has been the increased importance of the front page for the next steps in the customer journey. This discovery can be divided into two more specific parts. First, the image or carousel on the front page of the seems to have even greater importance. Secondly, users using mobile devices in particular tend to scroll down the front pages of most stores. Usually the majority of users get tired of scrolling and only few tend to scroll to the bottom of the front page, especially on mobile. Now there seems to be more patience. The same trend can be seen on the product selection page of some stores and as well on the product pages themselves.
Practical tips and ways to stand out
The first step in developing a customer journey is to monitor and understand the underlying situation. Drawing a customer path on paper will help with this one. How do average customer journeys work and what are the critical steps for the customer from the point of view? Is there something to be developed or improved? The next step is to validate your own hypotheses with additional e-commerce recording applications and analytics tools.
The key is to understand, that instead of following the actions of a single user, the focus should be on understanding the larger mass and their behaviour. For example, if behaviour has changed due to a state of emergency in society, the structure or functionalities of the trade may be changed. In the last few days alone, we have added separate chat windows for many merchants, or have better highlighted search windows in their themes. Results have been all positive and conversion figures have increased.
Mikko Rekola, lead growth hacker / Woolman
Need any help with analysing your store data and understanding your changed customer journeys? Feel free to contact us.