Perfect user flow, what is it?
You see, in eCommerce, user flow is extremely important as it has a very direct impact on a company’s revenue. That’s why even the slightest change can result in boosted income, or a great catastrophe. That’s also why we are very careful when it comes to flow decisions. It’s perfectly normal that sometimes we want to stick to the standard; we know it works, and there is tons of research that proves best practices work, so why not use it?
The thinking goes – if Amazon did it, it means it works. It means they invested a lot of money to test a few possibilities and came out with the best one. That’s partly true, but I see a problem with this kind of thinking.
Basically, user flow in eCommerce is always the same. You discover the page, enter it, browse products, add them to your cart, maybe add some more, go to the checkout and that’s it – you bought it, thank you, bye.
In this flow, there is a rigid beginning and ending, and while I don’t have any problem with a specified start, I see so much wasted potential in just suddenly cutting out our user after a purchase!
In his publication, Shannon Barnes shows a few ideas of how you might get more from a thank you page, thus expanding your user flow. And while I agree with Shannon, as you can clearly see that these ideas work just by looking at Amazon, I think that these practices are too revenue centered. For example, showing upsells after making a purchase: how would you feel if you entered a shop, carefully selected jacked and then after you paid and are about to leave, the staff shouts to you “maybe you’d also like to buy a hat, Madam?”
Of course, you might argue, that this is a very good moment to try and sell more, as you have nothing to lose, a user already made a purchase. And you would be right, to some degree.
I believe that if we really want to expand the flow of our user, to keep them interested, we have to give them value. I spoke a lot about how giving users free value is always a good solution for the long term. An example might be mall hosting free shows just to attract people, from which a few will surely use the occasion to buy something. It’s a win-win situation, people get a free show and businesses get higher traffic.
So what value can we give to our eCommerce user? We decided to do a little research.
Research on user flow
Together with local high-fashion-lady brand SOLAR (we began this cooperation some time ago with Magento implementation), we decided to try to expand user flow so a user will use their services even after making a purchase. The client’s idea was to create a digital client card connected with a loyalty system, but they had no idea how they could onboard their clients, as from what we saw loyalty alone wasn’t convincing. So we came up with an idea; maybe after the purchase is done, we could offer our customers the possibility to track an ordered package, and, with this, we hit the jackpot.
You see, right now, when you make a purchase, you either have a brief status “sent”, or link to an external courier service where you can check it. The problem with the former is that it doesn’t really provide any value, and with the latter, you lose your customer – he needs to go to the other website and will soon forget your eCommerce. This is obviously less than ideal.
After running a HotJar poll on the current SOLAR thank you page, we found out that more than 77% of customers actually track their package in some way, and about 10% of them don’t track it just because they don’t know a handy way to it. That’s 87% of customers that show interest in a package tracking module, it’s huge!
After ensuring that the idea is actually valid, we combined a loyalty system, tracking module and a recommended-products eCommerce module into one product. The idea was for it to be a small standalone app, designed in the same way as eCommerce, to use track your package module as a natural next-step after your purchase, so you don’t really think about it; it’s just part of the flow!
Another question we asked our customers was: how they track a package. We saw that ~60% of customers rely on notifications only (SMS and mail), and ~40% actually go the distance and check the website each time. So for that 40%, our job is done, we successfully onboarded them on our flow extension, and gave them an easier way to check their package status, thus taking care of them even after the purchase is done.
And what about that 60%? We needed some kind of system to show notifications to our users. Of course, we could use some third-party solutions like mail or SMS, but we wanted to have it all-in-one. And here comes another reason we chose a PWA – push notifications. This way we can provide value for our users even when they don’t have an app open.
You might ask: OK, but is it really worth it? Going the extra mile, integrating everything in one app takes time and is costly, what do we really get from expanding user flow in eCommerce?
The answer is simple: for business, this is another touchpoint. Look, nowadays everyone is fighting for a place on your home screen; an installed app is basically a free communication stream for your brand. It is marketing at it’s finest! If users enter your app, you can showcase new products in it, reward him with gifts in exchange for earned loyalty points or even (if you don’t overdo it) use push notifications for advertising purposes!
From a user perspective, we have huge added value here; you get to know where your package is, directly from your home screen, and each update is indicated with a notification! As a user, you get a much more complete service and have everything connected with your order in one place.
And for us designers? It’s just a pure fact, that we make user flow just a little bit better.
EDIT: After a request from a few people we decided to package our “eCommerce extension” into a product that you can connect to any eCommerce. If you liked that idea and want to know more, hit me up.