Five Ways E-Commerce Leaders Win at the Customer Journey
The winds are shifting for e-commerce brands. Consumers are returning to stores, inflation worries are setting in, and online sales are stagnating.
So how are e-commerce leaders navigating turbulent times?
We recently sat down with three seasoned e-commerce leaders – Joshua Rockoff (VP, E-Commerce + Product, Balfour), Dan Gange (Director of E-Commerce, EQ3), and Victoria Grahan (Chief Revenue Officer, Girlfriend Collective) – to get their perspective.
Here’s what we learned.
Run your e-commerce site like a submarine
In a store, associates can easily see when an area is messy or needs attention. But much of that visibility is missing in the digital journey, where there’s no immediate feedback loop without the right tools.
According to Dan: in the online world, “you have to worry about identifying problems with instrumentation.”
So what does the right instrumentation look like for an online business? A combination of quantitative tools (to understand where to focus) and qualitative tools (like session recording, for additional inspiration and context).
Brands stumble when they rely on high-level tools that don’t help them pinpoint exactly where or why things are going wrong. According to Dan, with Google Analytics, “you’re not going to be able to see the detail or level of granularity to be able to actually go and fix it – it just leaves more questions.”
KISS your site issues goodbye
When you’re running an online business, there are always countless fixes and improvements to be made. Focus on the low-hanging fruit.
Josh reminded the audience to KISS: keep it simple, silly. “The idea is basically [to] solve the easy problems first. You can always solve the long term stuff but if you don’t get some goodwill amongst your customers it’s hard to get justification and approval for the long-term things.”
In other words: stay focused on addressing the issues impacting your shoppers the most and prioritize those that can be resolved the fastest. The panelists agreed: there’s no point investing in fancy enhancements to the onsite customer experience if your site is riddled with goal failures or 404 errors preventing customers from checking out.
Provide that new product smell. (But online.)
A massive challenge every e-commerce faces is how to convey the qualitative and tactile experience of a product.
For furniture, Dan describes it as “the fit and the sit”: how does the product look in your space, and how does it feel to sit on it?
Brands use different tactics to bridge the gap between the in-person experience and what consumers can experience online. Some (like EQ3) end up adopting cutting-edge augmented reality technology to help consumers.
The key to identifying the right solution is to identify what the blocker is in the consumer journey. Where are consumers getting stuck? Visibility into points of dropoff can help illuminate potential tactics and technologies to help.
For example, Vicky described the challenges Girlfriend Collective has faced: “How do we help the customer understand which fabrication is going to be best for them based on the activity they are planning to do, the fit they are looking for, the comfort etc.? Not knowing what someone is doing as they are going through the site journey and where are they getting hung up and why is a blind spot for sure.”
Don’t let a single conversion go to waste
Advertising on platforms like Facebook and overall customer acquisition costs online have skyrocketed recently, leaving marketing leaders looking for new ways to reach audiences.
Throughout the webinar, the panelists weighed in on their best practices. Some approaches were more modern, with Vicky talking about experimenting with podcasts and social media. Meanwhile Josh preferred to keep it “old school,” leveraging traditional mailers and Valpaks.
Regardless of the channels where they’ve found success, all panelists agreed that with cost per acquisition (CPA) on the rise, e-commerce brands can’t afford to waste any site traffic. They have to maximize the value of every site visitor – by identifying and removing obstacles to conversion.
Optimize the onsite experience to win the right customers
Reaching customers is just one piece of the puzzle. Reaching quality customers and retaining them matter just as much.
That’s why Vicky cites Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) as a key metric her team at Girlfriend Collective constantly monitors. How does this change her team’s mindset? “We have to be willing to give up the shiny ‘we acquired x number of customers [mentality]’ because in reality those are not high LTV customers…acquisition and retention will always go together,” said Vicky.
The implications are huge for e-commerce brands. Removing friction from the onsite experience isn’t just a way to win an initial sale. It’s a way to build loyalty and drive repeat engagement among your most valuable customers.
Vicky describes her approach to attracting and retaining quality customers:
The bottom line
Our panelists shared insights ranging from their favorite digital channels to the merits of moving to a new e-commerce platform. (Spoiler alert: all agreed that re-platforming was like undergoing a root canal.)
But at the end of the day, the success of any strategy comes down to understanding customers – and specifically gaining visibility into the onsite customer journey. Where and why are customers facing friction in the conversion funnel?
Enter Webeyez: the secret weapon that online businesses use to immediately fix leaky funnels and grow revenue. The platform illuminates every step of the onsite consumer journey and uses machine learning to surface and prioritize points of hidden friction – giving revenue leaders a heat-seeking missile to instantly identify issues causing conversion drops and revenue loss.