The ecommerce buying journey, known as the path to purchase, can be likened to many scenarios – getting from point A to point B, putting together a piece of furniture, or cooking a delicious meal. They all have an end goal, and there are both tools that help you along the way and unforeseen circumstances that could prevent you from reaching it. In the ecommerce space, that goal is for customers to make a purchase.
The path to purchase is remarkably important for both businesses and consumers in the ecommerce space. It’s a path that starts from the moment a customer becomes aware of a product or service to the point where they decide to make a purchase.
Modern customers have become accustomed to a seamless, intuitive, and short path to purchase, and businesses are expected to deliver. When they do, they increase the likelihood of converting these customers, initiating brand loyalty, and, of course, selling more.
With these expectations in the air and so many brands trying to meet them, businesses can take one step further and exceed them through disruption. By pioneering innovative ecommerce trends and giving technological advancements a go, you’ll find that there’s so much transformative value you can add to the mix.
What Does the Current Path to Purchase Look Like?
To illustrate, think back to your most recent online shopping experience. Was it seamless, engaging, and exciting? Or did it make you want to give up after navigating through multiple pages and reading endless product descriptions? It’s no question that the path to purchase has a big influence on whether shoppers buy, abandon their cart, or increase their order value.
So because customers can encounter friction points along the way, such as poorly designed user interfaces and complicated checkout processes, ecommerce companies have always been in pursuit of the shortest possible path to purchase.
Traditionally, a brief path to purchase was the apex. But with ecommerce going through many evolutions, disrupting the now ultra-short path is now about enriching it with ways to improve the customer experience and maybe even up the overall value of their purchase.
Disrupting the Path to Purchase
Instead of purely focusing on brevity and speed, businesses should switch gears and explore a couple of approaches to infuse added value into the buying journey.
Upsell Carousels for Increased Order Value
When a customer reaches the end of their buying journey, their cart is filled with products, and they’re ready to face the checkout process. But before that, say they stumble upon a relevant offer that goes well with what they’re buying – for example, a greeting card or box of chocolates to go with their bouquet of flowers. That’s known as upselling.
Upsell carousels have quickly become a popular tool to increase order value. In fact, 72% of salespeople who upsell say it drives up to 30% of their revenue. These sliders are placed just before checkout or within the cart and display product suggestions based on what’s in a shopper’s cart. It’s a subtle, smart way to offer products the consumer might find useful or interesting.
Good, personalized upselling strikes a balance between boosting sales numbers and enhancing the customer experience. When the upsell is seen not as a sales pitch, but more as a thoughtful suggestion, customers feel valued and businesses are more likely to see better returns.
Bundle Offers for Cart Additions
Bundle offers are another tool to encourage customers to add more items to their carts. This strategy is a little different, however, as it focuses on bundling related products and selling them as one package, often at a lower price than if each item were bought individually.
Just like upsell carousels, the magic lies in the concept of complementation. Bundling products that are commonly used together automatically simplifies the purchase decisions and introduces customers to new products they might not have found or considered otherwise. For the customer, it saves them time and money, while for the business, it gets them higher cart values and more revenues.
We can look to popular skincare company, The Ordinary, for an example. They offer ‘Sets,’ such as ‘The Daily Set,’ which includes a cleanser, serum, and moisturizer. Instead of customers spending time searching and selecting each product on their own, their sets provide an all-in-one solution. This is especially useful for those new to the brand or skincare in general and works to speed up the path to purchase.
When customers see their savings after adding a bundle to their cart, they often feel encouraged to throw in more items, driving up the average order value. Adding value is a great way to disrupt the traditional path to purchase, with the shortened journey coming in as an aftereffect.
Interactive Fit Guides to Reduce Returns
A major hurdle in the path to purchase, particularly in the fashion industry, is the issue of sizing. When customers find items they love and are excited about receiving them, only to find out the item doesn’t fit, they’ll have to start an often tedious return process. There’s the pain of shipping costs, restocking efforts, and disappointment that may lead to lost business.
Within a 1,400-person sample, fashion retailer Tessuti found that 37% say incorrect fit is the main reason for making a return, and 91% are confused by inconsistent brand sizes. Returns aren’t just frustrating, they’re expensive too. Processing a return costs fashion brands approximately 66% of the price of a product.
Interactive fit guides were developed to counter this, a digital solution to help guide customers in choosing the right sizes when shopping online. These tools request basic information like height, weight, and preferred fit to provide size recommendations for each customer based on the specific merchandise (think pants, skirts, etc.).
For example, ASOS’s Fit Assistant size recommendation tool helps customers find the right size for exclusive labels and ASOS brands. It even gives that extra touch of personalization by recommending sizes based on your sizing with other brands. If you say you wear a size 8 at Nike, you might be recommended a size 6 for the garment you’re interested in on the ASOS site.
Virtual fit guides offer businesses significant drops in return rates and instill more confidence in shoppers. The path to purchase shortens, thanks to the reduction in uncertainty.
Augmented Reality for Better Product Visualization
In the same vein as interactive fit guides, we hit another wall with traditional product images. Just like we can’t try clothing on when shopping online, we can’t exactly get a good look and feel of other products either. Static images aren’t too good at communicating scale, texture, and usability, so customers hesitate to make purchases for fear that the product might not be what they’re looking for.
Augmented reality (AR) helps to provide a more tangible retail experience where they can virtually interact with products. Through AR, they can visualize a product in their space or virtually try on a product. This type of innovation captures customers’ attention and drives them to make a purchase.
One well-known brand that has incorporated AR into its customer journey is IKEA. Their AR application, IKEA Place, allows people to view everything from sofas to desks in their own space.
The app automatically places products based on room dimensions, and customers get to authentically view textures, sizing, light, and shadows without stepping foot into a store. This development is the epitome of accelerating the path to purchase by adding a layer of value to the buying experience.
Personalized Product Recommendations for Enhanced Discoverability
To replace in-store sales representatives, personalized recommendations can step in to analyze customer preferences and tailor suggestions accordingly. In ecommerce, this interaction takes place in the form of algorithmic engines called recommendation engines.
But just how powerful are they? Recommendation engines craft a unique buying journey for each and every customer based on their past purchases, online behavior, and browsing history. These recommendations could go as far as predicting what the customer might want next or simply present them with a ‘Customers who bought this also bought’ widget.
Suddenly, the customer journey breaks free from the linear format and becomes much more dynamic. Customers get to discover more of a business’s product range, and businesses personally engage customers and encourage increased spending. Relevant suggestions help customers sail through the buying journey and spark brand loyalty.
Your New Path to Ecommerce Success: Taking the Fast(r) Track
The verdict at this point is clear – superficially shortening the path to purchase is no longer the golden strategy. If your business wants to truly transform, real disruption involves bringing value to the customer journey.
Fastr Frontend is an exciting solution that promises to optimize every aspect of the ecommerce experience. Businesses get to take the guesswork out of ecommerce, using disruption to offer value at every point along the path to purchase. Using Fastr Frontend, online sellers can create dynamic digital experiences that stimulate sales, create curiosity, and nurture lasting customer relationships.
So, if the path to purchase seems long and winding, it's time to find that shortcut. Discover how Fastr Frontend can create a next-level ecommerce site that will get you 12x faster time to market, a 90% increase in transactions, and a 20% increase in conversions. Schedule a chat with our team today!