Why persona is important for any eCommerce

E-commerce

Authors

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Mario Stipetic

Mario has worked for New York and San Francisco-based startups and large corporate companies such as ZTE. He specializes in UX solutions for eCommerce sector.

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Dominik Kobas

Dominik is UX UI designer with unique perspective on things, empathy, insight, determination and passion for UX projects.

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Slavica Grgic

Slavica is a content and marketing manager with experience in SEO and inbound marketing strategy. She takes a broad view of the challenge and keeps up to date with latest trends and techniques.

Why personas?

Customer persona (aka. buyer persona, user persona) is a compilation of information about a customer’s problems, ideas, the infrastructure they’re using and any other information that will help you understand your customers more.

Ardath Albee, one of the leading expert for customer persona creation on her marketinginteractions.com blog define a persona as;

a composite sketch of a target market based on validated commonalities

She also mentions;

Customer personas are not representative of a real person. Buyer personas are a composite sketch of a segment of your target market designed to help brands align with these specific buyers’ needs and priorities to build engagement that results in a profitable relationship.

So, for your eCommerce, creating and using customer persona will:

  • provide a better understanding of your customers’ needs
  • align your objectives better
  • create a mutual asset which will improve cross-team collaboration
  • recognise obstacles for your users through their customer journey
  • allow you to get familiar with your customers’ priorities
  • help you to segment and identify high quality leads through analytics
  • assist in marketing messages

Having a customer persona is important in any business, but it’s nonetheless crucial for e-commerce. In e-commerce, it’s not enough to vaguely know your customers, you need to truly understand their psychology to create and sell your products most effectively.

By creating customer personas, you get an idea of the real people who buy—or might buy your products.

Index

1. Persona in eCommerce
2. Know your customer better with persona
3. The pitfalls of not embracing persona as the main tool of a customer-first approach
4. Who needs to be involved in persona creation
5. How much expertise do you need to have
6. How much does it take to create a persona

1. Persona in eCommerce

Persona is a term you've heard of if you’re coming from UX, design, marketing or sales department within the eCommerce industry.

There are a lot of persona templates on the internet but the majority of them are not usable at all. The usual template is based on not actionable data and it has a very small impact on the design, marketing, sales department and forgotten in a couple of weeks. A customer persona is often overseen because your staff simply don’t see any value in it.

A persona should have meaning and impact your company choices daily  and referred to throughout the year. A persona should also be updated and adjusted every quarter, or, at least once a year.

Having a persona as a guiding point of what problems are you solving for the customer will:

  • align the whole team to help the customers
  • allow better marketing segmentation
  • allow you to build better user interfaces
  • enhance the morale of your team

In our next blog post, we will explain how you can build a very detailed and actionable persona that your eCommerce team will be able to use.

2. Know your eCommerce customers better with persona

If there is a disconnect in your company, your staff is either not aligned with the goal or the strategy to reach that goal.

Without personas, eCommerce companies risk:

  • offering the wrong kind of products
  • communicate wrong messages
  • not having a clear long strategic goal
  • having a bad customer experience

Having empathy for your customers will help you identify a better goal, one that is customer-oriented. Your staff will understand the main point of why they are doing what they do - to help customers.

For example, one eCommerce client of ours was having difficulties reaching a specific goal. Through initial research and communication, we determined that the problem occurred because they lacked a clear image of who their customers are. Each team had their vision of customers, so they have approached them differently.

In that process we noticed several problems:

  • majority of team members focused on directions that were not aligned with the long term strategy
  • the marketing team was trying to reach a too wide audience
  • design and copywriting team did not communicate focused niche messages
  • the products that were offered did not resonate with their customers fully

We’ve learned that the entire team didn’t have a clear overview of the customer's problems they are solving.

After assembling all the notes from the stakeholders, we’ve created 3 different customer personas. Out of those three, two customer personas did not fit into the strategic picture.

A single, clear and detailed persona helped them segment their customers better. It also leads to a better taxonomy organisation of the shopping experience.

With proper persona creation, the whole team aligned and empathised better with the customer. Persona generally improved the work process, efficiency, and overall strategic company potential.

Of course, a persona is not a magic bullet that will solve all your problems but is it a major step and basis for all your customer-focused eCommerce efforts.

3. The pitfalls of  not embracing persona as the main tool of a customer-first approach

Today’s increase in the competitive eCommerce landscape only makes room for eCommerce shops who get to know and understand their customers.

For example, Forever21, a fast-fashion company that went bankrupt in 2019 offered trendy clothes for low prices. With time, Forever21 started to please a too broad audience, which led them to be less original and to loose their genuine customers.

They also failed to recognise that their customers are getting to shop increasingly though eCommerce while they opened more physical shops.

This resulted in Forever21 coming to a point where they have lost touch with their core customers. Their competitors, like Zara and H&M on the other hand, remained focused which allowed them an opportunity to rise to the top.

With proper persona creation and implementation, it is possible to avoid or at least to detect some of those problems. A persona is a vital tool for defining the pain points of a customer journey and your shop long-term strategy. Personas take out the guesswork out of the equation and provide you with actionable data.

Your eCommerce can, of course, be successful without a persona, but with low entry barriers to the eCommerce market, the competition is rising. You will need all available tools and help you can get to keep on climbing to the top and remain there.

4. Who needs to be involved in persona creation

First, you need to create a core team or outsource a UX eCommerce agency to build a persona, the team can consist of:

  • UX/CX designer or marketer
  • assistant
  • graphic designer

Ideally, you should have an experienced UX/CX designer that has experience with user interviews.

The persona creation team should talk to the following in-house teams to find out their view of the customer:

  • marketing
  • sales
  • customer support
  • business managers teams
  • executives

Talking to internal teams will offer you a better understanding of how desired customers are perceived. From them, you can also get to know where previous push-backs occurred.

Then, you should talk to your end customers to confirm your internal team's assumptions.

The persona creation process will be explained in detail in our next blog post so subscribe to our blog posts below.

5. How much expertise do you need to have to build a persona

You will need to invest a lot of time and expertise if you want to achieve a high-quality persona. Persona creation might seem easy, but it is quite demanding to create it and requires a lot of skills.

The internal or external agency team must be able to recruit interview participants and be experienced in conducting user interviews.

For the recruitment of external customers, we recommend that you reach out to your existing customers and ask them for an interview.

When it comes to conducting interviews the hardest part is making sure that the facilitator doesn’t influence the participants, which happens even to the best.

After you have enough data, your team should know how to analyse it. Sometimes participants might say things that would please or protect the facilitator’s feelings. It is then up to the interview facilitator to know how to determine which data should be omitted from an interview.

If you’re thinking “What if I don’t have enough time" or "we do not have enough experience to create a persona”?. In that case, you can always hire an external agency for the creation of a persona process. We offer free consultation on the best approach for your eCommerce. Just email us here

6. How much does it take to create a persona

There is no one-size-fits-all persona, every company is unique. Because of that, it is hard to tell how much time is required to create a persona.

There can be multiple factors that influence such as:

  • how many people are working on persona
  • how detailed persona is
  • how many time resources are available
  • where is the desired target customer
  • and so on...

The more detailed the work is the more time will be required to conduct thorough interviews and to go over all gathered data.

Usually, in our experience, the persona creation can range from two weeks up to two months.

To sum up

Creation of customer persona (if done properly) is a great step to understand your customer better, answer key questions, solve bottlenecks and improve the overall customer experience of your e-commerce.

Stop making assumptions and start talking to your end customers to  understand better what are their needs and how you can solve them.


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What will be the most important 2020 fashion eCommerce trend based on your professional experience?

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