Optimizing the Customer Journey with Shopify Apps

VW van on a desert road.

Now that we’re just about a month away from the two biggest online shopping days of the year (hello BFCM), it is the perfect time to ensure that your Shopify store is ready for the hectic holidays.

While it’s nigh impossible to prepare for every possible situation that might arise during the busy 40 or so days from Black Friday to New Years Day, there is one crucial aspect in particular that you can control: the customer journey.

What is the Customer Journey?

In the context of e-commerce, the customer journey is each of the steps that a user takes in engaging with your company -- from discovering your brand for the first time to making a purchase (and then hopefully coming back to purchase again and telling their friends about it).

Typically, the customer journey is broken up into five parts:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Purchase
  4. Retention
  5. Advocacy

And each part is made up of pieces that look something like this:

The customer journey's five parts consist of a number of individual elements, including marketing, referral programs, etc.

In each part of the customer journey, there is an opportunity for you as a merchant to guide a potential customer through every step. And with the help of Shopify apps designed specifically to streamline a given step, you can truly optimize the customer journey.

How to Optimize the Customer Journey

Our friends at ShoppingGives put together an awesome playbook for doing just that and it’s all yours for FREE:

The eCommerce Technology Playbook - The ultimate tech stack guide to optimizing your customers' holiday purchase journey.

Here are some of our own takeaways after reading the playbook.

Make the Jump from Consideration to Purchase as Easy as Possible

The biggest hurdle in the customer journey is almost always the move from Consideration to Purchase (aka the part where you make money). As a merchant, you need to do everything in your power to make this step as much of a no-brainer as possible for every user who visits your store. 

In other words, conversion rate optimization is a big deal (we can help with that with our dedicated CRO service).

There are several different apps and integrations included in the playbook that all address this crucial step and offer tools designed to turn potential customers into paying customers.

Customer Reviews and User-Generated Content Improve Conversion Rates

Think about the last time you bought something online. You probably did a Google search for the product, read through some reviews, and if the general consensus on the product was positive you were more likely to pull the trigger than when you started.

This is the definition of the Consideration stage of the customer journey. 

Now, imagine if you searched for a product and couldn’t find any reviews. Chances are you’d be a bit more hesitant to buy without that valuable social proof.

In today’s e-commerce landscape, customer reviews are a must-have, as 98% of consumers consider authentic customer reviews to be the most influential factor in purchase decisions (according to the playbook). If that’s not enough to convince you to get reviews on your store ASAP, just take a look at how user-generated content (reviews) affect conversion rates:

User-generated content improves conversion rates across verticals

We understand that actually reaching out to past customers to gather reviews and then publishing those reviews somewhere in your Shopify store is no small task. That’s where a tool like Yotpo comes in.

Yotpo makes it easy to reach out to past customers for reviews, place those reviews in the most optimal places in the customer journey (think PDPs and marketing collateral), and even create a referral program.

Free Returns Drive Purchase Decisions and Increase Customer Lifetime Value

When merchants think of ways to move a potential customer from the Consideration phase to the Purchase phase, one of the most common incentives that they provide is free shipping (you can thank Amazon for making everyone expect it nowadays).

Now here’s a figure from the playbook that surprised us: 69% of respondents would not purchase from a retailer if they had to pay for shipping on returns. 

While free shipping is pretty much a given at this point, we tend to overlook the impact of return shipping.

E-commerce return rates are highest among "expensive goods" purchases.

In industries like apparel in particular, many consumers purchase a large volume of items with the expectation of returning some of the goods (how else would you know if those jeans made your butt look weird). If they had to pay for the return shipping, they’re far more likely to hold off on clicking purchase in the first.

Using a tool such as Returnly makes it easy to implement free returns in your Shopify store. Not only does the app make the return and exchange process simple for merchants, the data shows that free returns actually leads to customers spending more money. By providing instant store credit, merchants using Returnly see customers spend more than double when they repurchase.

Add a Donation Solution to Do Good and Make More Money

Today, consumers are more cause-conscious than ever and that’s a good thing for everyone involved. Not only does it mean that there are more dollars going towards more impactful programs, it also means that brands have a huge opportunity to simultaneously give back and earn more.

By implementing a donation solution such as the ShoppingGives Shopify app, merchants can introduce a streamlined donation option for every purchase. Beyond the good karma that comes with making it easier for charities to receive the funding they need, merchants using ShoppingGives are seeing conversion rates improve as a result.

Get the Playbook to Learn About Everything Here and Much, Much More

Between introducing user-generated content, offering free returns, and implementing a donation option on every purchase, there are several gems that can help any merchant move more user from Consideration to Purchase in the customer journey. And this is just a glimpse of the treasure trove of tips that you’ll find in the playbook:

The eCommerce Technology Playbook - The ultimate tech stack guide to optimizing your customers' holiday purchase journey.

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