Understanding Your Ecommerce Funnel from Start to Finish

In an ideal world, customers would make purchases each time they visited your ecommerce website. The steps would be straightforward; shoppers would proceed directly from point A to …

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In an ideal world, customers would make purchases each time they visited your ecommerce website. The steps would be straightforward; shoppers would proceed directly from point A to point Z. But, as you may have guessed, ecommerce is rarely so simple. Thus, it’s important for merchants to understand how exactly customers reach the point of purchase.

It’s helpful to think of the entire journey as a funnel. Understanding your ecommerce funnel from start to finish will help you retain customers along the way, especially at key points notorious for “leaking.”

The Basic Ecommerce Funnel

At its most basic, an ecommerce funnel is simply the set of steps a customer undertakes to make a purchase from your store. More people partake in the beginning of the funnel—like visiting your website—than they do the end, which entails actually buying a product. The funnel shape mirrors this natural drop-off.

Kissmetrics outlines one basic funnel:

  • A shopper must first visit an ecommerce website.
  • They have to view a product.
  • They have to add said product to their shopping cart.
  • Finally, they have to checkout.

It’s your job to maximize the number of people who make it from the initial steps to the final transaction. Only then can your store earn the conversions that make up its bottom line.

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Where Are You Losing Customers?

Customer acquisition is important, which is why you put time and resources into marketing. If you’re attracting thousands of website visitors, but very few are converting, your return on investment (ROI) will be much lower than it should. It’s useful to examine your funnel to see how well you’re retaining shoppers. Then, you can examine where you’re losing customers and move to optimize the process.

As one contributor writes for Entrepreneur, “Very few customers will make a purchase off of their first interaction with your brand.” It’s only natural that some people to drop out of the funnel, especially if they’re still in the researching stages. But significant drop-offs at certain points may indicate there’s an issue with your store or that there’s something else you could be doing to retain customers.

Make sure your cloud ecommerce software is supporting a smooth journey, complete with intuitive navigation and quick load times. Knowing that any snag can cause a customer to leave your store and try their luck with a competitor, it’s important to make sure your online store is providing a great user experience throughout.

Combating Shopping Cart Abandonment

Most people won’t make a purchase from your store, even if they’ve gone so far as to add items to their shopping cart. In fact, the average rate for shopping cart abandonment hovers around 69 percent. So, what can you do to keep this number as low as possible?

Think of checkout as its own funnel. There is a set number of steps customers must complete to check out. Any hurdle or inconvenience represents a pain point for shoppers, otherwise known as a motivator for them to leave. For instance, approximately one-fourth of shoppers will abandon the purchasing funnel if you force them to create an account before checking out. It’s smarter to save this step for the end after the sale is already in the bag—and make it optional.

Make forms easy to fill out. Start with the simplest information like the shopper’s name and address. Allow them to check a box to make their billing address their shipping address. Save payment information for last. Make it obvious that your website takes cybersecurity seriously so people are less hesitant to turn over their personal information.

Understanding your ecommerce funnel from start to finish is the best way to stop “leaks” and drive revenue.


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