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The Buying Cycle of an eCommerce Customer

Updated: Mar 13, 2019

A customer’s purchase journey isn’t as simple as most people think. There are usually 4 stages that a customer goes through whilst shopping online. These are:

  • Awareness

  • Research

  • Decision/Purchase

  • Loyalty

The Buying Cycle of an eCommerce Customer
The Buying Cycle of an eCommerce Customer

Being able to implement strategies that effectively guide customers through each stage of the buying cycle will be crucial for the success of any eCommerce business.

Awareness Stage

In the awareness stage, your business has two main goals:

1. To help customers identify their need

2. To make customers aware that your business can serve their need

In some cases, customers already know their need and are already looking for a business that can help them solve it. Ideally you want to be targeting these type of customers since they are easier to sell to.

Research Stage

Thanks to the internet, it’s now easier than ever for customers to compare between companies and pick the one that they feel suits them the best.

In the research stage, the main objective of your business is to help customers evaluate how well your products match their needs and display the USP’s your business has over its competitors. This could be either through the product/service itself or through the way your business provides that product/service to the consumer.

User Experience plays big part in this stage so make to use engaging on-page content such as videos, infographics, case studies, testimonials, etc and ensure that your website appeals to visitors visually and is easy to navigate.

Decision/Purchase Stage

By this stage your potential customers should be aware of their needs and convinced that your business can meet those needs to their satisfaction. Only thing that is left is to commit them to buying from you.

In order to do this, here are a few tips:

Make all necessary information including returns process, delivery costs/times and warranty terms available as early as possible, preferably on the product page.

Do not add extra charges at the checkout

Offer free delivery option, where possible

Make the checkout process as simple as possible

Offer coupons and promotions to help “entice” the customer to buy.

Show that your business has good customer service

Loyalty Stage

As an eCommerce business, customer retention should be a major part your overall business strategy. This is because studies have revealed that its 7x cheaper to convert existing customers than it is to acquire new customers. Customers who have already bought from you already know and trust your store and hence need less ‘persuading’ to buy from you again.

Also, as long as your business offers good customer service, the customers who are loyal to you would most likely promote your store by word-of-mouth to their friends & family which is the most powerful form of marketing, in my opinion.

Utilizing loyalty point schemes, referral discount codes, thank you vouchers are all things you can do build a solid customer retention strategy for your business.


As an eCommerce business, its your job to guide your customers through these 4 stages as quickly & efficiently as possible. Therefore, having a clear understanding on the customers your business is serving and how they are engaging with your business is crucial.

You should utilize analytics & survey tools such as Google Analytics, Hotjar, Crazy Egg, Survey Monkey, etc to acquire as much valuable insights as possible on your customers and use those insights to make your business as customer-focused as possible.

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