Industry Insights

Part 1: Customer Personas and the Intricacies of eCommerce

The strategies and nuances of a good eCommerce solution have always been a passion of mine, so it should be no surprise that I pay close attention to the entire process every time I prepare to make a purchase that involves a vendor I have not purchased from previously.
Having been around the block quite a few times in the development of successful eCommerce solutions, I’ve noticed some key aspects that I would consider to be of vital importance to eCommerce success. In this series, I’ll be highlighting those aspects, going from concept to completion in a step-by-step way.
It should come as no surprise that knowing who your online customers are in relation to your business is foundational in achieving the best impact, and this is the first step. It’s only after you have explored who your customers are in-depth that you can be most effective towards planning, implementing, and tailoring your eCommerce presence in ways that cater to your customers and shine above your competition. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.

Creating Customer Personas

We start by embracing the concept of truly understanding who your target market is to ensure that we have gathered enough information to build an eCommerce solution. Figuring out exactly who your customers are, and establishing why your products or services are of value, will immensely help to reach them. By tailoring your messaging and reduce obstacles to incentivize customers to purchase, you’re assured that the considerable amount of time and energy that you invest is done so effectively. 
Creating customer personas is an integral first step to take if you want to get the best results from eCommerce for your business since everything you do after this will be primarily based on—and strongly influenced by—the customer personas that have been created. If your product or service is already established and operating online, the data and feedback you have compiled can be invaluable towards establishing your customer personas.
However, if you don’t yet have a wealth of data and feedback, there is no need for despair. The research done during the creation of your product or service will be invaluable towards detailing the personas.
It’s important to recognize that when creating customer personas, online purchasing processes between business-to-businesses operations and business-to-consumer stores differ greatly from one another, and as such, the focus that is applied to each of them will also be distinct.

B2B Customer Personas

B2B purchases are mainly strategic and without impulse, as they are done based on the needs of the company. Establishing value and trust in your products and services to positively impact your business customers’ bottom line is a critical factor in these kinds of purchases.
When you have B2B products or services, you will want to start by identifying the types of companies you’re transacting with and what their key purchasers’  specific roles are. What are they trying to accomplish and what are their typical responsibilities, goals, and core objectives?
Once you have the information about who they are and what they wish to succeed in doing, you’ll be in a good position to ascertain what their motivations and needs are, identify their challenges, pain-points, and discover potential deterrents that could prevent them from purchasing your products and services, and steer them towards selecting another provider.

B2C Customer Personas

With B2C purchases, the essential focus is on the wants and needs of the individual, and as a result, often involves emotional and impulsive aspects.
When you have B2C products or services, your focus will be much different. In this case, you will want to start by identifying the basic elements of their backgrounds. Who are they? What are their age group, education level, and their marital and professional status? Although they may seem irrelevant, answering these meaningful questions along with detailing other essential pieces of information that pertain to the overall makeup of individuals that will purchase your products or services will put you in an advantageous position.
With the basic profiles established, you’ll then be able to go deeper into the personas and describe the habits and personalities of your buyers, and you should do that with as much specific detail as possible. For example, what is their financial profile? What are they truly looking for? Determining their needs and how your product or service will fit them and benefit their lives helps to draw a much clearer picture. What influences them, and what are their hopes, dreams, worries, and fears? How will your product or service affect them personally or professionally, and why?

This Seems Difficult. Is it all Really Worth It?

Absolutely! Customer personas are decidedly beneficial for each of the principal areas that will be targeted to achieve the most significant impact your business can make. Many companies invest considerable resources into having this laborious task completed, but the results produced are invaluable and highly utilized by all of the project stakeholders along the way.
Watch for my subsequent articles as we continue through this series discussing next-steps and spotlight major elements to consider in your eCommerce build strategy.

Peter Urquhart

Peter Urquhart

Peter is a .NET web application developer with extensive experience in designing and developing complex web applications. At Falcon-Software, he is primarily responsible for project coding using the best software development practices with deep expertise and hands on experience with Web Applications and programming languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery and API's.

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