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If sales are at a low for your ecommerce business and you’re searching for the cause, it might be time to try and understand your customers’ needs more closely. This rings particularly true as 76% of customers expect brands to understand their needs, whilst 89% of successful businesses view anticipating customer needs as integral to brand growth. Your customers’ needs will impact every choice they make through the shopping process – from research to checkout. If your ecommerce business is falling short of those needs, this can contribute to sluggish sales.

From data analytics to the ecommerce customer journey, in this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know in order to understand and exceed customer needs. Read on to learn more.

What are customer needs?

We all have needs – and these can be a great prompt for us to take action. If we feel hungry and need to fulfil our appetite, then a trip to the shops (or the fridge) will naturally follow. Put simply, customer needs are the set of vital criteria that your products or services need to meet for consumers to seek them out and buy them.

If you improve the customer experience through consideration of these needs, an ecommerce customer is more likely to remain satisfied with their purchases, make repeat purchases and even recommend your brand to others.

The types of ecommerce customer needs

There are several different types of ecommerce customer needs that your business should fulfil. These might be overt, physical needs, like requiring a thick, padded coat from an online clothing store to get through a cold winter. Or your customer’s needs might be more subconscious – they want to associate themselves with style and wealth, so they opt to buy your newly launched, opulent stiletto heels.

Customer needs don’t just focus on the product or service itself, but also on the overall shopping experience, including pricing, brand reputation and loyalty, website accessibility, and customer service effectiveness. For example, if an ecommerce customer has a particularly busy lifestyle, then efficiency and ease of use are likely to be important needs for them. In this case, they will be looking for an ecommerce brand with a fast website and quick checkout process, along with robust customer service.

How to analyse and understand customer needs

The next question is – how do you gather information on customer needs for data analysis? Well, the best way is to go directly to your customers – and there are several ways you can do just that.

Customer interviews

Having an in-depth discussion with current or potential customers can help you to pinpoint issues with your products or services that could be improved, as well as new ideas for development. This process will improve your awareness of customers’ needs, but it is also time-consuming.

Surveys

Online surveys are a quicker way to gain insight into the needs of your customers, so you can get an overview of consumers’ feelings on a variety of targeted issues. You can implement surveys at the end of the checkout process to capture the views of your most recent customers.

Data analytics

Examining data, either from Google Analytics or social media platforms, can help you to gain a wider understanding of your ecommerce customers’ needs. Problems with a high bounce rate, for example, could suggest your website isn’t reaching your customers’ efficiency and accessibility needs.

Social listening

Another way to gauge the views of your target customers is through social media. When consumers have a complaint – or a compliment – they will frequently voice their perspective on social media. By collating these viewpoints, you can gain an impression of customer needs you might be missing out on.

Consumer needs and the ecommerce customer journey

The ecommerce customer journey follows the ‘journey’ your customers take from their first interaction with your business to the point of purchase and beyond. Through careful consideration of the ecommerce customer lifecycle, you can not only understand customer needs more accurately, but can also implement strategies to exceed those needs.

There are several ‘touchpoints’ on this journey, where the customer will interact with the brand. Generally speaking, these are:

Awareness

This is the initial stage where customers discover your website and products or services. By using data analysis to determine how consumers are finding your website and how they interact with it on their first visit, you can gain insight into your customers initial needs – the types of products they’re searching for and how accessible they find the website.

Consideration

In this phase, the customer is browsing your website and considering purchasing an item. The key goal is to encourage a sale – and it helps to consider customer needs, which will focus on how easy it is for the customer to find what they’re looking for, how much information is provided, and how competitive the pricing is.

Acquisition

At this stage, the consumer makes their purchase – or leaves an abandoned cart. Efficiency is a key customer need to consider, as well as incentivising customers who have left their cart to return and finalise their purchases. That could be through a further discount, an option for a faster checkout, or simply a reminder to prompt their memory.

Retention

In the follow-up of a purchase, the next aim is to turn the one-time consumer into a long-term customer. To succeed, consumers need to develop loyalty and connection with your brand, for example, by seeing how it aligns with their values – an important subconscious need.

Advocacy

Finally, customers need to be encouraged to promote your business further. One way to meet your customers’ needs at this stage is to help them become engaged with your brand in an enjoyable way, for example, by using a fun hashtag to encourage the creation of more user generated content.

Exceed your customer’s expectations

Now you have all the important details about customer needs, it’s time to put them into practice. Improving each stage of the ecommerce customer lifecycle can be confusing. Data analytics can take some of the mystery away – but how should you get the most out of your data?

With 20 years of experience in the industry, Bing Digital are experts in delivering data analytics and user tracking. Not only will we streamline your data for easy monitoring, but we’ll also visualise it into clear action plans you can really follow. We’ll also guide you through the ecommerce customer journey, so you can get to grips with what your customers need at each step of the way.

Ready to get started? Get in touch with our experienced data analytics team today.

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