Understanding the Ecommerce Customer Journey to Convert More Traffic Into Sales

Joel Gerschman

If you want to increase sales from your ecommerce website, it all starts with understanding the buying journey of your ideal customer and the different stages they go through before making an online purchase.

If you don’t understand this, you can’t properly optimise your website for maximum conversions and you’ll be leaving a lot of money on the table.

Watch the video below to get acquainted with the ecommerce customer buying journey and how it affects your website conversion strategy:


Understanding the Three Drivers of an Ecommerce Growth Strategy

But before we breakdown the typical customer journey, we need to understand that Ecommerce success is predominantly shaped by three growth drivers: Traffic, Conversion Rate, and Lifetime Customer Value.

  1. Traffic Generation – the more eyeballs on your site, the bigger the pool of potential customers. If you’re not getting anyone to your online store, you’re already failing. You absolutely need a strong traffic strategy to have success in ecommerce.
  2. Conversion Rate – You need to be able to turn those eyeballs into paying customers. This is where conversion optimisation comes into play – backed by a strong understanding of the customer buying journey. Focus on enhancing the user experience, building affinity & trust, and streamlining the buying process.
  3. Customer Lifetime Value – how much a customer spends with you on average over the lifetime of that customer. Increasing this number involves strategies that boost average transaction value and increase transaction frequency, such as upselling, cross-selling, and loyalty programs.

The Six Stages of the Ecommerce Buyer Journey

To effectively leverage these growth drivers, it’s crucial to understand and guide customers through the six stages of the ecommerce buyer journey:

  1. Awareness: The journey begins when a prospective customer first learns about your brand. That could be through a Google search, a social media post, a youtube video, or a friend’s review. The first question a prospect will ask is, do I know you? Which means that you need a strategy for catching the attention of your target market at scale.
  2. Desire: Next, you need to cultivate desire in your prospects. This involves persuasively communicating your value proposition, demonstrating how your products or services fulfill their needs or solve their problems better than others.
  3. Evaluation: In this phase, your prospects need to establish trust in your brand. Customer reviews, testimonials, and a professionally designed, user-friendly website can help foster trust.
  4. Commitment: Encourage commitment by making the purchase process seamless and basically risk-free. Clear pricing, free shipping, secure payment methods, and a hassle-free return policy can be major influencers. If you can make buying from you a “no-brainer” in the minds of your prospects, you’ve solved half the puzzle of building a successful ecommerce business.
  5. Return: It’s far more profitable and cost-effective to sell to existing customers than to acquire new ones. Repeat purchases can be encouraged through loyalty programs, personalised recommendations, and great post-purchase support.
  6. Advocacy: Customers turned into raving fans, are the best marketers you can have. These are your VIP’s, and they’ll ecommend your brand to their friends, family, and social media followers – for free! You can encourage this advocacy with referral programs or incentives for sharing their positive experience. Make them feel like they’re important, that you care (which you should!), and that together with your brand they’re making a difference.

That’s the typical buying journey that your prospects – ideally – go through. I say ideally, because many businesses don’t proactively and deliberately guide prospects through this journey. There are holes in their process, meaning that many prospects end up falling through the gaps at various stages.

Bridging the Gaps in the Ecommerce Customer Journey

If you are paying money for advertising to bring new visitors to your site but many of those visitors are falling through gaps in the customer journey, you’re actively wasting money. And of course, you’re limiting your growth.

The reality is that to build a growing ecommerce business – or any business for that matter – you need to guide prospects through the journey proactively and deliberately.

And this is where the opportunity lies for you. Because if you can guide prospects effectively through that six phase process, you can rapidly accelerate your growth. In doing so, you can make your marketing dollars work that much harder for you.

There’s no point thinking about how to bring visitors to your site if your website doesn’t do a really good job of converting them into paying customers. In the next few videos, we’re going to explore exactly how to improve your conversion rate.

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