Most eCommerce entrepreneurs have a distorted perception of customer intelligence. They assume it’s so complicated that they’ll need to devote a ton of time to understand it, which then becomes an extra task to their job of running the business.

So, they often think it’s better to avoid it and leave the success of their online venture to chance and other factors; or easier, just believe everything will come together on its own.

However, more astute and successful online retailers are starting to understand the increasing importance of knowing their customers; and are adopting strategies that improve a buyer’s user experience.

There’s also a common tendency among owners of small online businesses to think customer intelligence or behaviour analyses are for the bigger brands. That’s not true. Understanding consumer psychology is just as important for eCommerce stores that are looking to get to the next level.

The activity is crucial for aspiring growth companies; those that are not exactly startups nor global brands yet, but they have a manageable database that allows them to draw massively useful insights from their existing data.

Customer Intelligence data should guide their future decision making and guarantee better ROI, cost effective business solutions, and well-targeted growth.

The Growth Conundrum

Essentially, you achieve business growth when you’re able to increase customer Lifetime Value (LTV) or Average Order Value (AOV), in addition to acquiring more customers.

But, if you know little or nothing about your customer, how do you hope to grow your business? To attain eCommerce success, you must view your customers beyond the names on the packages and the order numbers.

Having good and sufficient customer data will help you offer a richer customer experience, which in turn leads to increased retention and referrals.

What most eCommerce store owners fail to understand is that the nature of the business and making real profits is a lot more than buying and selling. Your customers can get the same product from other eCommerce websites or physical stores at competitive rates. Growth is rarely about the products, it is about the experience.

Growth is rarely about the products, it is about the experience - Click to Tweet


Consumers buy the experience

So why would a consumer buy from one e-store and not another one?

Generally, what people buy is experience.

According to one consumer research study, 86% of the respondents said they’d be willing to pay extra for a product or service that offers them a better experience.

86% of the respondents said they’d be willing to pay extra for a product or service that offers them a better experience - Click to Tweet

Different elements make up customer experience.

First is the responsiveness of your eCommerce site. How easy and intuitive is it to navigate? Does it help consumers make easy searches with no annoying technical issues?

This highlights the importance of hosting your site with a quality, scalable and reliable hosting product. Your host must offer consistency with good technical support. There is also a lot of evidence that you should host in the country you are targeting too.

In the UK look at a good UK based host, like HeartInternet, in the US perhaps GoDaddy, in Australia and New Zealand the largest is  Freeparking. It’s reassuring knowing when a host provider promises to go above and beyond to take care of your business online, and has a history of doing so.

It’s important that the host provides fast load times, the ability to get more server resources when traffic spikes hit, and functionality like back-up, SSL and so on.

Your imagery and product descriptions are also important. Are they clear, believable, demonstrative and do they communicate the right message, showing how they will to solve the user’s problems?

Consumers are influenced by the quality of customer care and support provided throughout the transaction process, and this begins from pre-purchase. They love it when there are responsive and helpful people on hand through live chat and over the phone.

These are really the ‘must haves’ in the consumer journey. They are ubiquitous. There are a lot of industry, niche and product specific expectations and consumer wants that you need to get a handle on too. This is where your detailed customer analysis comes into play.

Understanding your consumers better

So how do you create good Customer Intelligence data based on all these factors and improve retention and referrals? To understand your customer better, you should study your data and find out:

What factors in and around your eCommerce store influence your prospective customer to want to make an order?

For many it could be the streamlined nature of  the shopping experience. For others it could be perceived value. If you are able to deduce strong trigger points with your customers, you can work towards leveraging their preferences to increase in conversions.

What channels do they prefer for value delivery?

Depending on your offerings, you should be able to offer multiple value delivery options for your customers. Even when shipping is the sole option for value delivery, you should offer a wide range of options. This should include different shipping companies, different shipping schedules and different pick up options. Whilst some of your customers will prefer home deliveries, others may prefer to pick up at offline storefronts.

What is your primary demographic?

Understanding your primary demographics will allow you to better understand their priorities, their motives and also provide them with a rich user experience that is fully tailored to their psychology. Understanding demographics is vital to marketing as it is an important tool in the creation of marketing messages. When you are able to understand the distinctions between your customer base, you can better create messages that speak directly using demographically themed designs and wording.

What products engage their interests more?

This is important so you know what products to focus on to improve customer loyalty. If you are  a footwear business for instance and sell sneakers and casual footwear 3 times more than other footwear options, you can say that your customer base is more interested in casual footwear. Ensuring a rich stock of such footwear options increases the chance of improving customer loyalty.

What is the engagement level of your eCommerce site?

A site that offers rich user experience is your key to helping customers figure out quick answers to their problems. Your customers should be able to enjoy accessible support and a FAQ page for instance. Most importantly, the layout of the site should offer an intuitive experience.

Tools for Customer Intelligence

Customer intelligence essentially helps you know your client better, so you can deliver a richer user experience that is tailored to their needs and lifestyle.

There are various analytics tools, some of which come with your template, which can give you valuable insights and data on your consumer behaviour. Woopra is one of the most popular. It can provide you valuable information to improve your customer experience, such as:

  • Keywords: Specific words that are unique to your page content or business niche and which search engines use to match your page with search requests.
  • Pages: The number of page views your website gets for every web page.
  • Direct traffic: The number of visitors who were directed to your site from the search engine result page (SERP).
  • Demographics and Devices: Sex distribution, devices being used, age ranges, location, general interests and more.
  • Bounce rate: The number of site visitors who leave after a single page view.
  • Absolute unique visitors: The number of first-time visitors to your site.
  • Referring sites: The websites that have links on their pages to your websites.
  • Category: The segment of shoppers who browse a category but then never go on to view any specific products.
  • Products: The segment of shoppers who view specific products but never added them to their carts.
  • Keyword Site Search: The segment of shoppers who enter a keyword or term in your site search but never get any further on your site.

and more!

There are dozens of ways to analyze, optimize and engage with your loyal customers throughout their shopping experience. By leveraging a customer intelligence solution that helps you to understanding who they are and the actions they take, you’ll be prepared to engage and connect in the moments that matter most!


James Cummings is a Business Psychologist and CEO of He has spent over a decade in the tech space and invests a lot of time helping businesses to understand consumers, create visitor journeys, and optimise their content.

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