Decoding the Purchase Journey of Consumers: Proven Tips for eCommerce Businesses

eCommerce spending in Southeast Asia is growing at unprecedented speed!

As per a study conducted by Frost & Sullivan, the market is going to reach a whopping $25 billion by 2020. Compare this with the actual market size of $11 billion in 2015, and you get an annual growth rate of 17.1%.

Thanks to this astounding growth rate, it is no wonder that Southeast Asian eCommerce market is highly competitive in nature.

But as an entrepreneur, how to survive and thrive in this market?

The answer lies in understanding consumer’s journey to purchase!

B2C Ecommerce Sales in Southeast Asia*, 2015 & 2020 (billions and CAGR)

Consumer’s Journey to Purchase and Why It’s Important

A consumer’s journey to purchase essentially means the step by step pathway she follows from the point of awareness (about your brand, products or services) till completing the purchase (by paying the business).

As much as an entrepreneur wishes this journey to be a straight-line, following clear reference points, such as Awareness, Consideration, Purchase and Feedback; in reality, the journey often features several twists and turns, owing to myriad influence factors!

In a perfect world, consumers would arrive at an online shop, choose the product they like best and make the purchase!

The reality is far from it.

In reality, the consumer arrives at an eCommerce store from a number of sources (i.e. offline advertisements, online advertisements, Google search, shopping search engines, social media pages, reference from a friend or family, reference from a social media influencer etc.), once there, the consumer considers several factors (such as price, shipping cost, refund policy, discounts, social media influences, brand loyalty, shipping time, user experience etc) and not just her individual preferences before making the purchasing decision.

To succeed in the highly competitive eCommerce market of Southeast Asia, it is essential for businesses to understand how each of these components influence the consumer’s decision at each step of the purchasing journey.

So, here are the crucial factors that influence a consumer’s purchase journey:

Mobile First Attitude

When it comes to internet usages, Southeast Asia shows a highly mobile first attitude.

According to a study conducted by We Are Social and Hootsuite in 2017, in Indonesia 47% of total population access internet through smartphones; the figure is 69% in Malaysia and 66% in Thailand.


Keeping in mind the above statistics, one can understand the humongous importance of being mobile ready.

With more and more customers making eCommerce purchases through mobile devices (especially in rural and semi-urban localities), making the online shops mobile responsive is not enough!

Opting for mobile applications with push notifications and one touch payment option can go a long way towards deeper penetration and better customer experience.

Customer Engagement

A customer’s journey to purchase starts with the awareness of a particular brand or product or service. From the moment of first touch-point, every communication and engagement the brand has with the customer build up the moment where she makes a purchase.

What comprise of this communication and engagement?

Starting from a video showing 10 different ways of wearing a scarf, till an Instagram celebrity sporting a dress from the online shop, till the latest Facebook contest the brand announced, all comes under the broad heading of customer engagement.

Customer engagement is crucial in each and every stage of the purchase journey.

During the first stage where goal is to create awareness, value added content such as tutorials, how to videos, informative blogs etc can be a great help in creating credibility.

In the consideration stage, social media engagement, influencer marketing, direct communication through contests, personalized coupons etc can hugely influence purchase decision.

By engaging with the consumers in a way that benefit them (either by offering knowledge, or by offering interesting offers), eCommerce shops can effectively influence their purchasing decision.

Social Media Influence

As per January 2017 data, there are 305.9 million (which makes up to 47% of total population) active social media users in Southeast Asia.

The wide social media usage has given rise to social commerce in this region. While buying and selling through social media platforms is pretty popular, major social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram etc play crucial role in influencing purchase decision too.


With an average person in Thailand spending 2 hours 14 minute per day on social media, social media platforms have become the primary sources of pre-purchase reference and recommendation for any product. The users not only take suggestions and recommendations from their primary contacts, but also tend to follow major influencers for guidance.

This social media scene offers a unique opportunity for eCommerce brands to engage their consumers.

Effectively employing influencer marketing, word of mouth publicity, encouraging social reviews have incredible potential for brand building in this region.

Moreover, eCommerce stores can directly engage with their target audience through an active social media page. The social media space can be used to host various contests, offer exciting offers, generate awareness about new products and answer customer queries.

Creating a human face of the brand through social media platforms can go a long way in acquiring new customers and retaining the existing ones in Southeast Asia.

User Experience

This is the single most important factor that can either hasten the purchase process or make your visitors bounce back!

User experience is the sum total of what a user feels after landing on your eCommerce store. The better the experience is the greater the chance of purchase is.

Creating a super-smooth user experience is crucial for eCommerce businesses, as this is one component that influences the last (and THE most) important stage of the purchase journey: Purchase.

Here are some handy tips on how eCommerce stores can create unparalleled user experience:

  • Make navigation super easy.
  • Let the user log in with minimal details; make the log-in process even more easier with social log-in (i.e. log-in with social media accounts).
  • Enable guest purchase.
  • Offer as many secure payment methods as you can.
  • Offer option to save payment method for future; ensuring one-click repeat purchases.
  • Display price, shipping cost, taxes and any other costs to be borne by the customer in clear manner.
  • Offer a transparent and hassle-free return and refund policy

Last Words:

Consumer’s journey to purchase is a winding path at best! Moreover, it keeps twisting as per various market condition.

However, as an eCommerce business, the best way to influence this journey positively is to create deeper engagement with them.

Engaging the consumers, creating a human persona for the business and offering personalized treatment to each customer are major components that can ensure a faster pre-purchase journey.