understanding ecommerce customers

Why You Don’t, But Should, Understand Your Customers

Do you know who your customers are?

A couple of posts back, I wrote about the importance of understanding your customers as it relates to improving your ecommerce conversions.

Well today I have a special guest who’s going to take things a step further with respect to understanding your customers.  Russell created an app call GetFetch which helps automate some of the ways you can better-understand your customer.  Check out Russell’s great advice and actionable tips.

Russell… the floor is yours.


If you were walking down the street and saw a $100 bill, would you pick it up?

Of course you would. We all would. Because hey—who doesn’t want to make more money? Especially when it’s so easy.

When you learn to understand your customers, it’s like finding a street paved in $100 bills. I’ll explain how, but let’s start from the beginning.

How Well Do You Know Your Customers?

Right now there’s a huge disconnect which has always been a problem for ecommerce stores. You never see your customers, and usually don’t speak to them, so it’s very hard to understand them. Sure, you can study Google Analytics and Mixpanel all day to try to interpret their behaviour, but it will never be the same as when a retailer is able to actually speak to their customers and judge the expression on their faces.

Even though we are physically separated from our customers, we are in the 21st century! We should be able to leverage some sort of tech app or gizmo to help solve this problem. While we can, the vast majority of us still don’t. So here are the major reasons why stores have a hard time understanding their customers:

A Lack of Effort

Whether it’s because they don’t know the benefits, or simply don’t care, most stores just don’t try to understand their customers. They set up their store, start accepting orders, and let fate decide the rest. Hearing this should make your skin crawl as an entrepreneur! You should be doing everything in your power to do better.

Statistics show that over 95% of customers won’t give any feedback at all, meaning that store owners are essentially operating blindly. Sure, you might be doing well, but could you be doing A LOT better with a few minor changes? This is equivalent to walking a narrow path in a blindfold, with a cliff on your left and a pot of gold on the right. Simply removing the blindfold will tell you exactly where you want to be heading.

Understanding your customers removes that blindfold.

A Lack of Customization

Most solutions out there follow two very typical rating systems: 5 stars, or Net Promoter Score (NPS). The issue with these is that they give no real meaning to a store owner. Sure, it’s great if you have all 5 stars, or a perfect NPS rating, but what does it really tell you?

It’s equivalent to getting back a test with just a “pass” or “fail” written on it. But where did I go wrong? What could I have done better? Did I get full marks on that one question? What section did I do better on?

While this is a step in the right direction (i.e. better than nothing), it lacks any and all custom insights that a store might want. One store may want to know if their orders are arriving safely, while another may only care about their store’s appearance. Once you can start asking the right questions, you can start getting the right answers. Every store is different, and thus wants to know different insights.

A Band-Aid Solution

A lot of stores will try to solve one little piece of the problem. For example, you will see widgets on a lot of websites asking “to chat”, while another website might offer you “20% off your first order to be a subscriber”, and another will send a hand-written thank you note with your order.

If you’re looking through a pin-hole, you’ll only ever get a piece of the picture. This is why stores should be doing everything in their power to avoid a band-aid solution, and tackle the whole problem. Always have your eye on the prize: engage customers, understand them, and sell more.

What You Have To Gain

Remember that street of $100 bills I was referring to earlier? While a literal street would be nice, these benefits are the ecommerce equivalent, all simply from being able to understand your customers.

Stop The Leaky Bucket

Whether you want to admit it or not, your store is a bucket…with some holes in it. Visitors pour in from all over the web, but unfortunately, most are pouring out before converting. Understanding your customers is a way to identify what is working and what isn’t, and make the changes necessary to plug as many holes as possible.

The more complete your understanding is, the less holes in your bucket, and the more money you will make. Imagine all those $100 bills that would have never stayed in your bucket! We find that the simpler it is for your customers to communicate, the more you will hear from. That’s why with our app (www.GetFetch.ca), all it takes is 1 tap.

Existing Customers

When you try to understand your customers, they take notice. They see that you actually appreciate them, and are taking their opinions into consideration to build a better lemonade stand. Just like you and I, everyone likes to feel special. It’s the same way you can’t help but grin when somebody says “thank you”, but amplified.

This will foster a loyal community, more repeat sales, and more referrals than you know what to do with. This is where all those free $100 bills come into play! It costs 6-7x more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one, so why not put a lot of effort into keeping the customers you’ve already sold? Don’t leave money on the table here!

Future Customers

When you understand your current customer base, you can uncover a ton of insights about who your target market really is. This can help discover which niches to further explore, who might be the most profitable demographic, and how to reach them. In layman’s terms: it means more customers and revenue.

This is something fortune 500 companies spend millions on because they understand the power of it. Luckily technology allows even the smallest of online stores to compete!

The Art of the Upsell

Since you are engaging with your customers, it is a great opportunity to hit them with some marketing tactics. You can turn every piece of communication into a potentially profitable one! One I have found to be extremely effective is to give them a promotion, with an expiration date on it, to try and get them back into your store quickly.

Where To Start

Yes, this is a bit of a daunting task. Especially if you aren’t doing anything right now to understand your customers. But don’t worry, I have advice for every step of the way.


Start small, because anything you do helps. If you don’t have a lot of customers and aren’t looking to spend much/any money, consider doing it manually. A few things you could try…

1) Create a short survey on SurveyMonkey and personally email it to every customer after an order.

2) Write a personalized thank you note and place it in each order, asking for feedback at the end.

3) Pick up the phone and call some of your customers to see what they thought. Trust me, they’ll be happy to hear from you.

4) Post small polls on your social media page to gauge interest on specific topics.


I know, it’s a pain to be doing this all by hand. So if you’re too busy for that, you need to start using some tools. There are a lot of great apps out there, at all different price points, so make sure you do your research. If you’re interested, definitely check out the app I created to solve everything I outlined above (www.GetFetch.ca).

Regardless if you use Fetch or not, this is what you should be looking for in a tool:

1) Contact every single customer (this proactivity is key!)

2) Absolutely dead simple to complete the feedback

3) Fully customizable, so you can get the insights you need

4) Provide analytics so you can easily understand their findings

5) Incorporate some marketing/upsell tactics to boost sales

6) Cost effective, and proven ROI


There is always room for more when it comes to understanding your customers! That’s why I have a few tips if you want to get really advanced.

1) Hire a firm, like http://www.affinio.com/, to leverage your data and get some deep analytics on who your customers are.

2) Hire somebody to call customers who write in support tickets and make sure they are completely satisfied.

3) Have a role dedicated to managing your social media and online reputation to make sure you are giving off your desired brand image.

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Russell Silver is creator of GetFetch.ca, which helps stores understand their customers (through really simplified, automated post-purchase emails), and sell more using by promotions and building loyalty.