5 insights for mastering your ecommerce purchase journey

4 minute read

As an ecommerce business, you’re used to change. But what you’ve experienced over the past two years is change at a speed and scale that no business can be fully prepared for. Almost every facet of ecommerce has altered or sped up, with Canada’s ecommerce market more than doubling in size since 20191.

Now, ecommerce activity is stabilizing – but shoppers will never be the same. They’re demanding better end-to-end purchase experiences, and they’re embracing new values, including social and environmental responsibility, that are impacting their buying decisions. This all means that what your customers once considered a great experience may no longer hit the mark. We’re in a ‘new normal’ now.

What do today’s online shoppers want?

We asked 5,000 Canadians what they’re looking for from brands at each step of the online purchase journey. Here are 5 insights to help you prepare your ecommerce business for the new normal*:

#1: Master awareness: Get your customers to talk about you

To drive awareness about your brands and products, one of the best things you can do is encourage your existing customers – particularly your happiest, most loyal customers – to review and recommend your business. That’s because shoppers rely heavily on the experience of past customers when making purchase decisions.

When looking to learn about new brands and products, 45% of Canadian shoppers often or always consult customer ratings and reviews. The second most consulted information source is search engines (43%), followed by word-of-mouth recommendations (34%).

#2: Master discovery: Enable product discovery for your business on search engines

When asked about the first action they took in relation to their most recent online purchase, more than a third of Canadian shoppers indicated they searched the web, highlighting the critical importance of search engine optimization in ecommerce marketing.

The fact that search leads in product discovery is good news for brands looking to be discovered by new shoppers. Consumers who begin the buying process on search engines are more open to inspiration from new brands than those who go directly to Amazon (32% of shoppers) or another retailer’s website or app (23% of shoppers).

#3: Master consideration: Offer free shipping

Once you’ve caught the attention of a potential customer, free shipping is the most powerful incentive you can offer to convince them to buy from you.

Almost 9-in-10 online shoppers say free shipping is either “very” or “extremely” influential when choosing among retailers.

Does this mean you need to offer sitewide free shipping on all orders to drive sales? Certainly not. And unless you have hefty product margins, it likely won’t make financial sense to do so. Consider instead offering free shipping with a minimum spend threshold.

To ensure you’re padding your margins enough to offset all or most of your shipping costs, set your free shipping threshold higher than a customer would typically spend (your average order value) – but not so high as to be off-putting. Try starting with a threshold that’s about 30% higher than your average order value, then test and optimize from there.

#4: Master conversion: Provide a variety of payment options

Checkout is a deciding point in the shopper journey, as this is when the seeds of doubt set in for consumers. To encourage shoppers to move forward, make it as easy and convenient as possible for them to complete their purchase. That starts with letting them choose their preferred payment method.

2-in-5 Canadian shoppers are “very” or “extremely” influenced to purchase when multiple payment options are provided.

#5: Master retention: Keep shoppers coming back with a standout fulfillment experience

You’ve heard it time and time again, and it’s true: It costs more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing customer. And if you hope to turn one-time buyers into repeat customers, strive to delight them through the fulfillment experience.

In ecommerce, fulfillment is often the customer’s first opportunity to physically interact with you. Done right, it can enhance their impression of your brand and encourage repeat purchases.

The fulfillment experience starts at checkout when you communicate your delivery promise to customers. Setting clear expectations around delivery timing is crucial to Canadian online shoppers. Almost 7-in-10 shoppers say clarity around delivery timing influences their purchase decisions, and nearly a third have avoided repeat purchases from brands that did a poor job managing their delivery expectations.

One last word

The ecommerce industry is in a period of transition, and some brands may find this destabilizing. But those that know their customer, tailor their experiences and act with purpose will find immense opportunities to not only survive, but thrive, in ecommerce’s new normal.

*Unless otherwise noted, all statistics and figures come from the 2022 Canadian online shopper study.

eMarketer. Canada Ecommerce Forecast 2021, July 2021.
2 Phase 5. Canadian online shopper study, May 2022.

Read the full report

Download our latest Canadian online shopper report, Thriving in the new normal, for more insights and advice on how to optimize your ecommerce purchase journey.

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