Understanding Your eCommerce Sales Funnel

Improving your sales funnel is one of the most important tasks for your business. No matter what your business sells, your potential customers will go through these five stages in their buyer’s journey. Learn more now!

Understanding your customer’s journey and eCommerce sales funnel online can help you optimize your business’s online marketing strategies with the overall goal to increase that conversion rate. The latest survey in 2020 showed that the average conversion rate of eCommerce websites is just 2.86%. 

Considering the rising price is CPL, this figure is pretty shocking. It’s getting more expensive and more difficult to convert customers every year.

In this article, we’re going to examine how you can understand the typical customer journey and thus help you increase your eCommerce sales funnel’s conversion rates and after that, your customer retention rates.

What Is An eCommerce Sales Funnel?

An important metric which is often spoken about in marketing is the “sales funnel.” It describes how a customer moves through the web starting as a member of the public and finishing as a sale for your business. Well, kind of…

The sales funnel illustrates the entire process a person undertakes to go from a potential customer to an existing customer and beyond that then to retention.

Some business people mistake this for a streamlined process, an A to B journey. However, that is a radical oversimplification of the entire process. To better learn about and guide your customer picking the funnel apart stage by stage is a much better method.

Moving through the funnel can take a customer a matter of seconds, they see something they like, they click, they buy. Or it can take months for a customer to move through the funnel. As a business, you must be aware of each situation and do your best to optimize your sales funnel for frictionless movement through it. This includes many practices that contain the whole design of your website in cohesion with your overall marketing campaigns.

The game doesn’t end when the customer buys your product either. They then move into the “retention section” of the funnel whereby you try and turn them into a recurring long-term customer.

Stages Of An eCommerce Sales Funnel

Now that we know what the sales funnel is, the next step is to break it down into sections or stages of the funnel. Many businesses segment the funnel differently, some may have 3 sections, some may have 6 but we believe that there are 5 main sections. We’ll use these 5 sections to illustrate the main stages of the sales funnel:

1. The Awareness Stage:

This is the earliest stage of the funnel. Customers (or really just regular public members) in this stage are just starting to learn about your business. They learn about your business through advertising means such as organic ads, paid ads, word of mouth, referrals from other customers, and other “top-of-the-funnel” marketing tactics. This is your businesses first impression on the public so make it good!

2. The Consideration Stage:

Next, the customer moves into the “mid-funnel” as it’s known and into the consideration stage. These customers have shown interest in your business and are potentially interested in buying your product. You’ve got the customer’s attention now, you have to keep it. This is done by providing them with more information relevant to what they’re interested in such as; product descriptions, product prices and customer testimonials.

3. The Decision Stage:

In the second half of the “mid-funnel” customers evaluating and finalizing their choices. At this stage, most customer will start comparing prices and looking for deals or discounts. Can you blame them? Everyone wants the best bang for their buck! This is an opportunity for your customer service teams to get involved and offer limited time only discounts. This can nudge the customer towards choosing your product over competitors and also puts subtle time pressure on them to make a decision before they change their mind.

4. The Purchase Stage:

Now we’ve reached the find bottom-of-the-funnel, well sort of. It’s the last stage of the sales funnel. Customers have now decided to buy your product. Your focus should be on making the checkout process as streamlined as possible and also try to get them to create an account. By creating an account, you obtain their contact details and can offer them the opportunity to “save their details” for faster buying in the future.

5. The Retention Stage:

Technically, the funnel is now finished but just forgetting about these customers would be just throwing away future sales opportunities. The goal of this stage is to now focus on upselling and recurring purchases. This can be done by using email retargeting campaigns or loyalty programs to keep these customers interested and profitable for your business.

The goal of the funnel stages one through four is to create a frictionless and swift process for the customer to move deeper down the funnel towards the end goal of securing a sale and converting a customer.

After that, the goal of stage five of the funnel is to retain the customer and try to get them to come back, buy again and bring a friend too!

The Importance Of Attribution With eCommerce

Understanding the marketing funnel is one thing, but to truly get the best out of it you need to become an expert in attribution.

Attribution is the story of each individual sale you make in the marketing world. It describes the journey that sale took within your business to ultimately arrive at a sale. This can include the very first ad that a customer saw, up until the point that they purchased your product.

If you can identify the individual steps that a customer takes, then you are able to single out points of contact that you can use to improve sales. By using smarter advertising at these touchpoints, and maybe a little extra budget, your business could see a large increase in sales efficiency.

This could be anything from speeding up the sales process to acquiring new customers that may have previously fallen off halfway through the journey.

To learn more about why you should examine your attribution strategy check out our blog.

Expert tip

The key to a successful sales funnel is to know how your prospects are moving through your eCommerce sales funnel and then use that information to optimize each stage for overall higher conversions.

Focus your time and effort on customer satisfaction. A happy customer is much more likely to be persuaded into buying into your business. Making the process as simple and frictionless as possible will help guide the customer through the process.

Think about it in the real world; don’t you just hate when you go into a shop and there are no signs. You can’t find what you’re looking for so you ask a staff member, but they aren’t helpful. You search for the product you want, find it but then you don’t know where the check out is. Finally, you try to use a discount voucher you have but it’s not valid anymore so you pay more than you thought. Would you be happy with this experience and would you be likely to go back to that shop? 

No. So don’t be that business online.


Improving your sales funnel is one of the most important tasks for your business. No matter what your business sells, your potential customers will go through these five stages in their buyer’s journey.

Your sales funnel is a constantly changing and ongoing process, but one that is definitely worth the time. An optimized sales funnel will do wonders for your business sales which will help overall growth tremendously. If you optimize it right and create a culture that strives to constantly improve the funnel for your customers, then great results await your business.

About Optily

Optily is the only single-click ad spend optimizer for eCommerce. Our plug-and-play online platform quickly links all of your Google and Facebook ads together and helps you easily determine which campaigns are working. With just one click, you can apply our optimization recommendations–like moving budget from a lower performing Google ad to a better performing one on Instagram.

Optily saves you time and money by instantly optimizing your ad spend. 


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