Stand Out in a Global Economy by Understanding the Customer Journey
Many major e-commerce players such as Amazon.com, Taobao, Tmall and JD.com have already gone global, and they’re erasing customer borders for other retailers. Now, merchants in countries like China can access consumers in the U.S. and vice versa.
While reaching new customers worldwide has its benefits (Chinese customers account for about half of e-commerce purchases, after all), it also means the e-commerce marketplace is getting more crowded, making the customer journey longer and more complicated. As the world marches to a completely intertwined global economy, customers’ shopping and purchase habits will only become more intricate. The research phase will take longer, too, as customers weed through myriad options. Soon, e-commerce will resemble the travel industry, in which the average customer visits about 38 sites before booking a trip.
Analyzing the Complex Customer Journey
Today, U.S. e-commerce retailers face the challenge of navigating the fragmented customer journey in global marketplaces. Companies need to look at purchase behavior first. Understanding what customers buy helps retailers understand what they value, which saves resources. Once companies obtain this data from analytics, they can focus on the areas where consumers are interested and willing to invest time and money.
Companies can also look at clickstream data based on a consumer’s actual click and browsing behavior. They can study on-site activity to anticipate customer behavior and predict whether a visitor will make a purchase, allowing them to identify the segments of their audiences that need the most attention. It also helps determine users’ experiences, such as what calls to action they click on and their activities on various pages. This data helps retailers optimize user experience to increase return on investment.
4 Tips for Navigating the Global Customer Journey
As the customer journey goes global, understanding it becomes more necessary. Here are four best practices for decision making based on this process:
1. Track everything.
A mere 17 percent of e-commerce executives claim they can track the entire customer journey. Add tracking codes to every link you provide to maximize the data available to you. Use it to connect the dots and cross-reference with third parties to see how they correlate per market standards.
2. Use the journey to reach individual consumers.
When you know how your audience members visit your website, as well as their browsing and purchasing habits on-site, you can better customize your outreach and offerings to them. Starbucks has succeeded at using its omnichannel data to enhance customer outreach and engage with customers on an individual level. Presenting each customer with the right offer at the right time can increase conversions and ROI.
3. Customize the user experience.
While customers can be hesitant about sharing personal information, they also want to see content that’s relevant and personalized. They’ve come to expect unique experiences, so tailor your website or service on the basis of users’ actual usage and on-site behavior. Then, offer them products that interest them the most.
4. Exercise additional data options.
In the past year, Google launched Customer Match, a service that lets marketers use first-party data to target ads more precisely to particular groups of searchers. The introduction of Customer Match means that marketers don’t have to choose between running ads that are relevant to a specific consumer or those that are relevant to a search context — it’s possible to do both. Furthermore, the integration of Customer Match into paid search will rocket search marketing forward even faster.
Global marketplaces are allowing e-commerce retailers to reach a larger group of potential customers. However, this globalization is complicating the customer journey. Retailers need to get a firm grasp on what that process has become, then use that information to provide consumers with content they want and need.