The eCommerce Shopping Funnel Has Changed

Ruth Peters
September 8, 2022

Over the last 30 years, the eCommerce process has been refined and tuned–– optimizing the process for both brands and shoppers. 

In the past, brands could guide customers from search > home page > category > product > checkout with ease. But, there is a new way to shop, and this approach doesn’t come with 30 years of learnings.

With a single click on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, or even through their TVs or a voice assistant, customers are sent straight to a product page, bypassing the top of the funnel. According to Salesforce’s Connected Shopper Report, consumers interact with brands across an average of 7.6 different touch-points, starting their journey at the edge — often on social media — and away from the commerce core

This new path to purchase has dramatically changed the traditional eCommerce sales funnel that brands have optimized to the nth degree. All of the rules that brands used to design their CX shopping journeys need to be reconsidered. 

So if the shopping funnel has changed, what does it look like now? And what do brands need to know to make sure they’re getting the most out of their shopping journeys? 

The Old Shopping Funnel

The traditional shopping funnel isn’t obsolete, but brands need to be aware of and consider the additional path to purchase starting at the edge. 

The ‘traditional’ eCommerce funnel, as we know, is a linear shopping journey. Thanks to a wealth of data from shoppers, brands could experiment and get the whole process down to a tee. From price bracketing on the home page to hero products or hyper-personalization, brands knew how to get people to check out and keep cart abandonment low. 

Most traditional models broke the sales journey down into five steps. These may vary across brands or industries, but are pretty consistent:

  1.  Awareness 
  2.  Consideration 
  3.  Evaluation 
  4.  Purchase 
  5.  Loyalty
ecommerce shopping funnel
The traditional eCommerce customer journey

A visual representation of what we understand about traditional eCommerce visitor behavior. (Source)

So, what’s changed?

Well, everything.

Customers are now starting their journey at the edge –– that is, especially on social media. Social commerce sales are predicted to value $605 billion by 2027, while revenue is estimated at $3.7 billion annually. And brands are paying attention –– 93% of brand execs said their businesses are moving eCommerce efforts to social media. That’s where the customers are, so the brands will be too.

The eCommerce funnel used to be fairly linear. There’d be variations across demographics, but it was reliable for the most part. Social commerce, however, is the wild west of online shopping. 

What’s the problem?

  • Multiple channels - Nearly three-quarters of retail consumers use multiple channels to shop. Not only are customers spread out across all corners of the social web, but their intent is different. If someone is scrolling on TikTok, they are probably in ‘entertainment mode’ very different from someone who had searched via Google five years ago. Some are there to shop, some to browse, and some to get inspiration. Should entertainment intent customers be taken to the same product page as someone with a shopping intent?
  • Multiple touch points - Only a small proportion of customers that buy do so immediately, the vast majority of purchases are more considered. On social only 11% of social media users that purchase immediately make an online purchase after discovering a product, while 44% bookmark or save the item to make a purchase later on. It’s no longer good enough to just have a presence online –– brands need to find ways to bring these customers back to complete their purchases. And this is the kicker. Returning customers are significantly more valuable than first-time visitors: the data suggests returning customers added items to carts 65.16% more than first-time visitors, converted 73.72% more than first-time visitors, and spent 16.15% more per transaction.
  • Poor landing page experience - Most new customers aren’t arriving on your brand’s landing page when they’re looking to purchase for the first time. They’re frequently directed to pages that might not be set up with the intent to woo new customers. Today, product detail pages are often where visitors land, with bounce rates upwards of 72% higher than other pages. The result is a huge revenue leak. Our research shows that this revenue leak is equivalent to a substantial 14% of site revenue.

How can brands optimize the new social commerce shopping funnel?

The shopping funnel has changed — now’s the time for brands to get a handle on their social commerce, and to be at the forefront of the movement.

So how can brands optimize the new social commerce funnel, and make it work for them, rather than the other way around?

Recognize a customer’s level of intent and, where they are landing

Some customers are browsing explicitly to buy, while others are just having a look around to see what’s on the market, and others are looking for entertainment. These customers are just scrolling around social media as a pastime, and aren’t thinking about buying a certain product at all. These shouldn’t be targeted in the same way.

Consider the following:

  • Don’t take traffic into a product detail page. If a consumer is just in entertaining mode, create a new landing page within the existing structure where they can be redirected. This page can hold further entertaining content that may keep engaged or encourage impulse purchases.
  • Set up individual landing pages depending on the point in the funnel where each customer is. 
  • Create a shadow product detail page that will allow your content to be tailored based on the customers’ browsing habits and history. 

Acquire data as a priority

The reality is that most consumers will add to the cart, but are just not primed to check out yet. 

It’s down to brands to collect data and bring them back when they are ready to check out. This is even more important for social customers — faced with ever-changing algorithms, social platforms can make it nearly impossible for shoppers to find an ad or sponsored post again.

Regular email re-marketing can convert the 69.82% of shoppers who leave abandoned carts, offering discount codes and/or creating a feeling of scarcity to nudge shoppers towards purchase.

Though one-click checkout social commerce features on platforms like Instagram and TikTok are available, customers prefer to check out on brands sites, and they’re a massive loss for brands that want to collect data on their customers.

All the data from a sale made through Instagram, for example, goes straight to Meta. The brand makes the sale and gets the revenue, but misses out on all the data. And without that data, it’s almost impossible to tailor the customer experience to ensure they become a repeat customer. 

Create a frictionless journey to the brand site

Simplicity DX’s State of Social Commerce Report found that roughly half (48%) of online shoppers think social is “a great place to learn about new products,” but only 13% prefer to buy there. Almost three-quarters (71%) of respondents prefer to check out on the brand site.

The best way to do this is to ensure they’re getting the best possible experience. If a customer encounters even the slightest speedbump – a broken link, out-of-stock message, technical error, or usability issues – you’ve got a problem. The impact of a poor landing page experience is quantifiable — 14% of site revenue is lost from product detail pages alone. This also creates a problem from a customer experience point of view. 

Customers are loyal to great shopping experiences, be it during the shopping process or what happens after receiving their products. 

Optimize your social commerce strategy with SimplicityDX

We’re not saying to give up on social commerce and head back to selling through your brand site only. Consumers have changed, and so must our approach. Instead, it’s about brands optimizing their customer experience — from social media to the brand site.

To learn more about taking control of your social commerce journeys, visit the SimplicityDX blog for more insights.

SimplicityDX makes social commerce work. Its SimplicityDX Edge Experience Platform enables brands to optimize social commerce experiences by simplifying the buying process between journeys started at the edge and the brand’s eCommerce e- site. Founded by a team of industry veterans in May 2021 and privately funded, SimplicityDX operates in the U.S. and U.K. markets.

Learn more about how social commerce and shopping on the edge is impacting ecommerce.

Press Release - Brands Losing a Record $29 for Each New Customer Acquired

7 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience of your Shopify Store

eCommerce Profitability is Driven by Digital Customer Experience

Ready to Get Started?

Join our newsletter to stay up to date on social commerce and eCommerce news, as well as the latest survey data.