Holiday Ideas & Strategies

The Buyer’s Journey Doesn’t Stop at Checkout: Understanding the Five Steps to Creating Frictionless Purchase

Susan Meyer / 10 min read

There’s a reason that ecommerce has become a multi-trillion dollar industry — to the tune of a projected $6.5 trillion in sales globally by 2023. Even after the effects of the COVID pandemic subside, the global appetite for the convenience of online shopping is not going away, particularly during the busy holiday season. Selling online is the future of retail. 

But the competition is also increasing. Unless you sell a very niche product, chances are, you’re not the only one. It’s increasingly important that you cement your brand in customers’ minds with not just your products but the experience of buying them.

Shift to the mind of the consumer — from selling online to buying online. What do shoppers most value? In many cases, it’s their time. They want stores to cater to when, how and where they want to shop. You need to provide an omnichannel experience that follows them through the entire buying journey seamlessly.

To meet what modern buyers want — and at this point expect — you need to provide a frictionless purchasing experience. Frictionless purchase provides exactly what a shopper needs in the moment that they need it without them having to think about it. It eliminates points of hassle that lead a would-be customer to abandon their cart and decide to shop later (or, worse, shop elsewhere). 

In this guide, we’re sharing the five steps to achieving frictionless purchase on your site along with some of the tools to help optimize your tech stack to achieve them. 

Step 1: Make it Easy to Buy

Your marketing worked. The shopper is on your site. They found something they love, and they’re ready to buy. All the hurdles are cleared, right?  

Not exactly. The sale can be more tenuous than you realize, even after an item is in the shopper’s cart. In fact, Baymard calculated the average cart abandonment rate (based on 44 reported statistics) to be almost 70%. 

Here’s what you need to do to foster conversions and make it as easy as possible to complete the purchase. 

1. Prime your site for purchase.

The road to purchase starts before they hit the checkout page. You need a gorgeous site that inspires confidence in your brand and makes customers want to buy your products again and again. If you’re not a web developer, you can use tools like Shogun Page Builder to easily design a beautiful site that entices shoppers to purchase. Shogun is an intuitive drag-and-drop solution for creating and managing page content that lets you design a custom site without relying on coding or developers. And it seamlessly connects with BigCommerce stores. 

2. Personalize the experience. 

Another thing to consider with the experience you provide is to tailor it to the customer. Customers expect if they’ve shopped with you before, you won’t treat them like a stranger and will ease the path to purchase. In fact, 63% of shoppers expect their purchase history to direct personalized encounters from brands.

Create custom storefront experiences with LimeSpot. LimeSpot Personalizer  is an AI-powered personalization platform that empowers marketers and ecommerce professionals to deliver 1:1 personalized shopping experiences across web, mobile, emails and ads. LimeSpot makes it easy for brands to create a customized storefront experience for each customer. 

3. Optimize your checkout experience. 

Reasons for cart abandonment vary (and we’ll talk about more of them below), but one study found that 21% of online shoppers in the United States have abandoned their shopping carts due to a long, complicated checkout process. The checkout experience is a key place to reduce friction and there are a number of tools that can help you do it. Adding a digital wallet to your checkout is an easy first step. Shoppers expect your payment gateway to include either Apple Pay, Google Pay or similar.  But don’t add too many — the goal is to create a simple checkout experience

  • Offer easy payments with Stripe. Stripe works with the BigCommerce platform to allow you to collect payment through a robust, single-click integration. Encourage shoppers to convert by offering digital wallets, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. The integration also supports international payment methods including SEPA, iDEAL and Alipay, so your global customers can use their currency and payment method of choice.
  • Take checkout off your shoulders with Bolt. Bolt solves the complicated technological challenges involved in checkout, fraud detection and digital wallets, so you can focus your energy on what matters most — growing your product, brand and customer base. 
  • Let them pay you later with Paypal or Sezzle. Let customers buy what they want without stressing about immediate payment (and without you worrying about payment either). Pay Later from Paypal and Sezzle both offer short-term, interest-free installments and other special financing options that buyers can use to buy now and pay later, while merchants get paid up-front.  
  • Improve the shipping experience with ShipperHQ. Give your shoppers accurate rates, estimated delivery dates and the right choices in checkout — so you can use your shipping to gain a competitive edge. ShipperHQ lets you provide these options up-front and in-cart with real-time shipping rates for 50+ carriers and methods including LTL freight, same day delivery and cross-border options.

4. Help them find what they need. 

Another potential point of friction for customers: finding what they want to buy. Some customers arrive at your site looking to browse the inventory, and others have a clear idea what they want. Regardless of their intent, anyone who lands on your site should be able to find what they need without having to dig. Here are some solutions that can help.

Improve customer search with Klevu and Fast Simon. Klevu is a leading, end-to-end discovery platform for ecommerce businesses that enables merchants to deliver personalized and intelligent search and navigation experiences for their shoppers. Klevu’s search engine brought them the level of precision their customers needed to find their products, and one customer seeing a 19.8% increase in revenue after switching. Fast Simon is a leading shopping optimization platform that drives ecommerce search, AI-powered merchandising and personalization, based on shopper behavior, store inventory, data and visual signals for thousands of fast-growing BigCommerce merchants.

5. Persuade them to buy. 

Sometimes customers just need a little extra nudge to get them to commit to their order. From inventory callouts to ratings and reviews or leveraging user-generated content, there are a number of ways to amplify your powers of persuasion, and there are a number of solutions that can help. 

  • Let your loyal customers do the talking with Yotpo. Reviews from existing customers are a powerful conversion tactic. And their importance is continuing to grow. According to one survey, 34% of consumers report checking reviews of businesses and services more frequently than they did before the 2020 lockdown. But how to get customers to leave reviews and leverage them efficiently? Tools like Yotpo help BigCommerce businesses generate tons of product and site reviews, photos, videos, Q&A and other user-generated content and use them to drive traffic and conversions. 
  • Create urgency with Nudgify. FOMO is another great tool of persuasion, and Nudgify can help you let customers know what they might miss out on. The tool connects to your BigCommerce store and allows you to pick from a library of Nudges to show customers real data from your store such as recent orders (sales pop), which products are selling out and more.

Step 2: Inspire Customer Confidence

Another point of friction for shoppers is if they see any indicators a site might not be reputable or have strong security to protect their data from a breach. They’re right to be concerned. Online retailers deal with around 206,000 attacks on their stores each month. You need to display your reliability and security before, during and after purchase. Here are some tools to help you do it. 

  • Offer top site speed and security. Making sure your ecommerce platform is providing speed, reliability and security is key to broadcasting trust to site visitors. BigCommerce lets you tame operational complexity with an easy-to-use, secure platform that’s up when you need it most. BigCommerce stores come standard with Level 1 PCI compliance to make your site safe and secure. 
  • Deliver peace of mind with their shipments with Route. Route offers a connected suite of post-purchase solutions for online retailers that can provide customers additional peace of mind. Route allows customers to add package protection against loss, theft and damage right on the checkout page. Route also offers an immersive package tracking system so customers can follow their shipment every step of the way. 
  • Safely protect their purchases with Clyde. Clyde allows you to easily add a warranty program so their products are protected long after delivery. The app matches extended warranty contracts to your products and launches them directly to your live store. When your customer purchases a coverage plan they’ll receive an email from Clyde with info about their contract and what to do when something goes wrong.

Step 3: Deliver Surprise and Delight

Product delivery that’s fast and efficient can radically affect whether customers will shop with you again. According to one survey, 87% of consumers say the shipping and delivery experience directly impacts their decision to shop with the merchant again. 

1. Faster, more efficient shipping.

You want the product delivery process and the unboxing experience to be just as frictionless and delightful as everything else in the process so far. We touched a little on how you can improve the shipping experience with tracking solutions above, but this step is your opportunity to really make a lasting impression on your customers. Here are some ways to kick it up a notch. 

  • Give them what they want even faster with ShipBob and Ware2Go. When it comes to having a positive experience with shipping, 63% say it needs to be fast and 66% require a free option. Amazon has habituated shoppers to getting their products in hand in two days or less. Third-party logistics solutions can help you compete. ShipBob works with fulfillment centers across the United States to be able to offer simple, fast, and affordable 2-day fulfillment for ecommerce businesses. Ware2Go’s NetworkVu can also make your shipping more efficient as it shows you how to build a right-sized fulfillment network that strikes a balance between your customer needs and your operational workflows. Using your client order history, seasonal demand patterns and business growth projections, the app can recommend best-fit options for fulfillment distribution that gets you faster shipping where it matters most.
  • Increase your efficiency with ShipStation. When it comes to shipping and fulfillment, the more you can automate, the more time and money you can save. ShipStation makes it easy to manage all your orders from one platform and can save you time by automatically applying actions to orders based on criteria you set.  Import orders by connecting a selling channel, manually creating orders, uploading a CSV, or inputting them via API. Plus, you can sync as many orders as you like, across as many sources as you use, and ship via any carrier you want with ease and speed.
  • Offer branded packaging with Arka. One of the benefits of having your own ecommerce store over shipping through third-parties like Amazon is that you get to cement your brand and begin building affinity for it. Continue that through purchase and fulfillment by including your branding on your packaging. Arka provides branded and unbranded packaging for ecommerce businesses, including: boxes, protective inserts, poly mailers, tape, tissue paper and stickers. All you have to do is select the type of box you’d like, determine the sizing and quantity and then brand it with your company’s logo, messaging and colors.
  • Provide updates with order tracking from Route and Narvar. Keep your customers in the know! Send your customers order status updates so they are aware when their order is ready for shipment, it’s been shipped, it’s on the way, and it’s delivered. Order tracking can cut down on customer service calls and emails, as well as provide additional transparency to your customers for a better overall experience. With Route, you can offer package tracking and order protection, which can transform the post-purchase journey from an undervalued afterthought into a loyalty-generating customer experience. If you’re looking for an app, Narvar delivers an engaging, on-brand shipment tracking and messaging experience to your customers.

2. Offer more fulfillment options. 

For customers who want more than just fast shipping, providing additional options like BOPIS can be a benefit. A Digital Commerce 360 survey from August 2020 found that 43.7% of the top 500 retailers with physical stores were offering BOPIS — up from only 6.9% prior to the pandemic. And a McKinsey report found that 56% of shoppers plan to continue using BOPIS after COVID-19

Provide an efficient offline-to-online experience with BOPIS through Randem Retail. The BOPIS App by Randem Retail enables you to turn your retail locations into pickup stores, allowing you to connect your online sales with your offline business and be everywhere your customers are. 

Step 4: Make Returning Just as Easy as Purchasing

No one wants to see merchandise coming back through the doors, but providing a frictionless  returns process leads to satisfied customers and even repeat customers. One survey found that 96% of consumers will go back to companies who made returns and exchanges as seamless as possible.

It’s important to ask for feedback from customers and solicit reviews so you can solve any issues early, and it’s also important that you make returns just as seamless as any other part of the process. Here’s a solution that can help.

ReadyCloud and Happy Returns makes returns solutioning a breeze. ReadyCloud helps you provide what they expect with an “Amazon-like” returns process and elevate customer communications automatically. Through the ReadyCloud Suite, you can connect your Administrative, Sales and Support Departments for better communication throughout the After-Purchase, Shipping and Returns cycles. Happy Returns has a national network of 700+ Return Bars that allow shoppers to easily return items without printing or packaging in under 60 seconds and receive refunds immediately. 

Step 5: Keep Nurturing the Relationship

Depending on what you sell, a one-time customer has the potential to be a long-time repeat customer, if they are treated like one from the beginning. Continued engagement and re-engagement with your customer helps strengthen relationships and keeps you top of mind for future purchases. Here are some ways to make that happen.

1. Don’t forget to write (email and SMS marketing).  

Using email and SMS can be an effective way to keep up with customers, let them know about new products they might be interested in and share upcoming promotions. Marketing during the delivery process can be an effective way to continually engage shoppers, and many brands forget to talk to customers about upsell while the package is in transit, missing the time when the shoppers are most engaged. There are tools that can help you make your outreach more effective.

  • Optimize your messaging with Klaviyo and Omnisend. According to the National Client Email Report, the average email marketing program generates a 38x ROI. As a result, more than 59% of marketers cite email as their biggest source of ROI. Klaviyo helps businesses create memorable experiences across owned marketing channels — email, SMS, web and in-app notifications — by listening for and understanding cues from visitors, subscribers and customers, and turning that information into valuable, relevant messages. Omnisend is an ecommerce-tailored email and SMS marketing automation platform built to help your team drive more revenue without increasing their workload. Help convert customers with quick-to-build, highly-relevant emails & texts. Combine email with SMS and push notifications in cart recovery, welcome series, order and shipping confirmation or any custom automated workflows. 

2. Retarget prospective customers. 

Reminding customers about a product they left behind in their cart or even just when browsing can be a helpful conversion tool. 

Reach shoppers on multiple channels with Sales and Orders. Seamlessly connect your BigCommerce store to Google, Microsoft Advertising, Facebook and Instagram and have your products imported and sent automatically while you wait.

3. Reward loyal customers. 

At the end of the day, there’s still a lot of competition out there, and a loyalty program gives your customers one more reason to come back to you over trying a competitor. 

Smile.io can provide you with a beautiful, branded rewards program. With Smile.io, you can launch a powerful loyalty program on your store in minutes with an engaging and real-time rewards panel that lives right on your store. A loyalty program gives your customers access to exclusive perks, attractive discounts and a fun way to engage with your brand every time they log into your store.

4. Keep them coming back.

What’s better than a one-time customer? A customer that comes back again and again, increasing their brand affinity over time and their lifetime value along with it. One way to achieve this is through subscriptions, and there are solutions to make that easier too.  

Make recurring purchases easier with Recharge. Recharge makes it seamless to enable subscription offers. Merchants can manage subscription business within ReCharge’s powerful merchant portal all while enabling customers to fully manage their subscriptions directly from your store. 

Conclusion

Ultimately, you and your customers want the same thing: to get your product in their hands with as little friction as possible. Your job is to simplify wherever possible and find efficiencies for them at every stage of the journey. 

In this article, we shared a number of different solutions that can help you find those efficiencies from pre-purchase to conversion to post-purchase. However, your path to frictionless purchase will not look the same as another business’s, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Go ahead and place an order from your own website. Wait for the package to arrive at your house and ask yourself — does the experience make you want to come back?

If you’d like a little hands-on help figuring out how to remove points of friction on your site, we’re offering a free website assessment of your BigCommerce store.  

Don’t have a BigCommerce store? Try one out today. 


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Susan Meyer

Susan Meyer

Enterprise Content Marketing Manager

Susan Meyer is the Enterprise Content Marketing Manager at BigCommerce, where she researches, analyzes and educates brands making more than $10M in annual online sales on tech stack scalability, flexibility and overall growth strategies that alleviate growing CAC. She lives and works in Austin, Texas and her decade of writing experience spans everything from young adult nonfiction to technical documentation.

View all posts by Susan Meyer

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