1.0 Introduction.Electronic Commerce (E-commerce) includes all activities relating to buying and selling of products and services using online services (Wiki, 2019). E-commerce uses technologies like mobile commerce, electronic data interchange (EDI), electronic funds transfer and internet marketing etc (Wiki, 2019).E-commerce brought about the existence of virtual markets, passages and stores that are not physically occupying any space. Customers can access all these right from their homes and pay through electronic services (Yaser, 2013). E-commerce is divided into business to business (B2B), business to customer (B2C), customer to customer (C2C) (Yaser, 2013).
This work is focused on B2C which are businesses that sell directly to their customers. E.g. Starbucks, Zappos etc. Zappos and Starbucks are used due to the wide acceptability of their services in the U.S. The ecommerce customer journey is also used for this work. 2.0 Theoretical frameworkThe Customer Journey Map is a representation of the linear and time-based stages a customer passes through to interact with a service or a company (Richardson, 2010).
It is a customer-oriented strategic tool that is used to carefully analyze and understand the purchasing experience from the customer point of view, exposing problems and hurdles on one part and opportunities to improve and innovate on the other (Brugnoli 2009). 2.1 The ecommerce customer journey Written by Ricardo Mangiaracini and Gianluca Brugnoli in 2009, this is probably one of the first structured Customer Journey Map that is directed at customer experience in ecommerce: from the users’ view point (Ricardo, Gianluca, 2009). The model can be used to asses and benchmark between different online stores. 2.1.1 Site entering and landing:This focuses on how customers enter the site and get engaged. It entails all activities that lead the user to the site. Websites can be landed differently: The search engine positioning, Newsletter etc. The Search Engine Positioning is very important in generating visits to the site (AA VV, 2008). The first impact with the site is usually called the Landing page or Homepage. 2.1.2 Catalogue browsing and product discovery: This part is focused on how a customer explores the site, compares between products, narrows the options and finally makes a choice. 2.1.3 Product selection and personalization: Here products are arranged in such ways that are visible to consumers, it is very important in deciding what to and what not to buy. Products are presented with detailed futures to attract potential customers. 2.1.4 Cart management: After the site landing, the customer goes through the catalogue, views products and then makes a choice and adds them to cart. It is the most critical stage in the customer journey as many customers drop-out at this point, for it is the only point where customers get to see the final price, discounts and shipment cost etc. (AA VV, 2008). The way the cart is displayed and how it can be assessed throughout the shopping process.2.1.5 Checkout stage: The complexity/simplicity of this determines whether customer loyalty will be gained or not and even whether there will be a purchase or not. The Order options, payment methods, coverage, flexibility etc. are appreciated by customers and determine retention rate.2.2 Limitations of the model The model focuses only on the user experience in relation to interactions with B2C sites. It only compares features of merchant websites. It does not embrace ecommerce user experience as a whole but B2C as a segment.3.0 Case AnalysisWhat can actually be better to a company is not acquiring two customers but retaining one (research.hubspot.com). It cost 5-25 times less to retain a customer compared to acquiring one (hbr.org). But how does one retain customers? 3.1 Zappos.comZappos.com is an online shoe and clothing store that sells directly to customers. The company was founded by Nick Swinmum in 1999 and it is based in Las Vegas, Navada. It was initially launched under the domain name Shoesite.com. When a customer gets to he sees a simple landing page with few items from Men, Women. Kids. Department, Brands, Sales on one side and Favorites, Rewards and My Account on the other (www.zappos.com). There is also an accessible cart.When a category is selected let’s say Men for example, the customer gets a further list of options narrowing down his search to men wears and shoes. One can decide to choose for example Men Sneakers and Athletic Shoes then find a pictorial representation of different sneakers with prices to select from (www.zappos.com).When the choice of a product, size and color are made, it is then added to cart. A customer is then asked to create an account if he is shopping for the first time on the site but a regular customer will only be asked to select his existing address or add a new one if he wishes to change address. He is then provided with delivery options and fee. Payment then made using MasterCard, Visa Card, PayPal, etc. and the customer then waits for his ordered product(s).Zappos has made it a culture to say thank you and also send gifts to customers after purchases. The company even has an office-wide tally containing monthly surprises and gifts sent to ensure the company maintains it customer retention strategy. Saying thank you seem simple but it is an effective customer retention technique that sets apart beloved brand from faceless websites (Sophia, 2019).. Source: Forbes3.2 Starbucks CorporationStarbucks is an American Coffee company and coffeehouse chain founded in Seattle, Washington in 1971. It currently operates over 28,218 locations worldwide ( customer can just log onto or download the Starbuck’s App and automatically gain access to the company’s range of products from Coffee to Tea and so on. The site has a simple landing page with few items; Coffee, Tea, Menu, Coffeehouse, Social Impact, Starbucks Rewards, Stories and Gift Cards (www.starbucks.com.)Let’s take Coffee for example, after the selection, a customer is directed to a page where he can explore everything relating to coffee. When a choice is made, the customer then pays online using; MasterCard, Visa card etc. As a B2C company, innovation is key for customers are ever ready to gain more knowledge and get better service. Starbucks has been innovative in the area of marketing especially in terms of customer acquisition.To retain more customers, the business had to get more innovative, by introducing the google map and its Mobile Order & Pay feature (customer empowerment and convenience) in their app. With this, customers can now place their order before they even arrive saving them time. The aim here is to make products and service easily accessible and create tools that can empower them. Source: StarbucksIn digital marketing and social media, customers are to be engaged on their own terms (Tom, 2015). Starbucks is found to be doing it right in this regard through its mobile payment. It is presently the most popular wallet App in the U.S., even higher than PayPal.Starbucks’ “MyStarbucksIdea.com” gets customers’ ideas, thoughts and opinions: Over 500,000 customers have done that already. The site also updates customers on the state of such ideas and thoughts (Tom, 2015).4.0 Findings Trust is one of the key issues in ecommerce necessary for any transaction to take place; this is regardless of whether it is a B2B, B2C, or C2C transaction. The customer has trust that the seller will deliver the ordered products. Zappos understands the importance of time as regards marketing, hence the provision of a simple landing page to avoid time wastage and complications in the shopping process. Products are effectively displayed with prices and customers can also access their carts throughout the shopping period to help in their journey of acquiring desired products. Options like color, delivery plans are made available for flexibility purposes.The company is also fully engaged in post-sales activities and uses the Thank you approach to customer retention and to make customers feel at home and cared for (Sophia, 2019). This is done with little gifts to remind customers that the company has them at heart.Starbucks as a company has been effective in the area of product accessibility in that, it provides an App for customers to place their orders before going to a nearby outlet and again gives direction to customers via Google Map. As a result of the aforementioned innovations, customers can now place their order without stress and queuing. The company has gone further to create a website and social media platforms where customers state their ideas/feedback for considerations. 5.0 Conclusions The main goal of marketing is getting to customers and influencing their purchasing or consumption decision making (David et al., 2009). Companies are no longer just satisfied with getting their goods and services across to customers but also with how fast, convenient and cost efficient the process is achieved.The ecommerce customer Journey represents stages a customer passes through to acquire a service or a product and the experience. Mirroring the two companies through the model, one can say that Zappos has inculcated all these stages in the company’s culture aimed at giving their customers an exquisite customer journey experience and a very organized post-sales activities aimed at customer retention. Starbucks has done well in the area of customer empowerment, making their products easily accessible and the creation of the site to gather ideas of their customers, one can say, this is helping Starbucks understand the needs of their customers so as to meet them better.Overall, Zappos is doing extremely well; customers seem to have a level of satisfaction with their services during and after sales. A simple thank you to a customer may be a very special experience that cannot be forgotten in a hurry and customers often remember such whenever they want to carry out such a transaction again.