February 21, 2023
Reading time: 15 minutes

Ecommerce Onboarding: Best Product Adoption Strategy

The eCommerce onboarding experience determines how swiftly and deeply customers connect with your brand.

A meticulous and captivating product adoption strategy doesn’t just showcase the mechanics of your offering; it narrates its story, highlights your brand value, and builds a bond between the customer and your online store.

Ecommerce onboarding strategy is the decisive factor that turns intrigued visitors into either devoted brand advocates or dangerous sharers of bad reviews.

In this article, you’ll learn how to do it right because a poor onboarding process will cost you more than you know.

Ecommerce Onboarding: Remote Product Adoption for All-size Online Stores

Ecommerce onboarding for easy product adoption
Ecommerce onboarding for easy product adoption

What is Ecommerce Onboarding and Why Does it Matter?

Ecommerce onboarding is the product adoption approach online sellers use to help buyers understand and easily familiarize with purchased products.

Ecommerce onboarding transcends mere post-purchase assistance. With an effective adoption strategy, online shoppers gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of purchased products. Such clarity not only cements trust but also amplifies customer loyalty.

An excellent onboarding process serves as a powerful marketing instrument.

Learn From the Best: Example of Excellent Onboarding

Sephora, the renowned beauty brand, recognized the value of eCommerce onboarding. With meticulously crafted YouTube makeup tutorials, Sephora clarified product application and techniques. The outcome? 28% adoption boost, 48% traffic, and 16% sales increase. (Case study “Sephora SEA Increases Augmented Reality Feature Adoption Rates by 28%” by

Important Statistics and Psychology About Product Adoption Strategies in Ecommerce

Here are some of the amazing statistical data about eCommerce customer onboarding that will convince you how important product adoption is (source:, Customer Onboarding Statistics, 2020).

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of customers say that onboarding is an important consideration in whether they decide in the first place.

More than half (55%) of people say they’ve returned a product because they didn’t fully understand how to use it.

Over 90% of customers feel that the companies they buy from ‘could do better’ when it comes to onboarding new users/customers.

86% of people say they’d be more likely to stay loyal to a business that invests in onboarding content that welcomes and educates them after they’ve bought.

8 in 10 users say they’ve deleted an app because they didn’t know how to use it.

65% of customers say video is their favorite way to learn how to use a product or service.

Both good and bad onboarding have profound psychological impacts on purchasing decisions and the overall relationship a customer has with a brand. Let’s delve into the psychological aspects:

Outcomes of the Good Onboarding Strategy

  1. Trust and Reliability: An efficient and user-friendly onboarding experience fosters trust, one of the most important factors in eCommerce. When customers easily understand how to use a product, they feel that the brand is reliable.
  2. Increased Confidence: Effective onboarding ensures that a customer feels confident in using the product or service, leading to a positive association with the brand.
  3. Positive Reinforcement: Smooth onboarding serves as positive reinforcement. Customers feel confident in the choices they’ve made. Overall satisfaction increases the likelihood of repeat purchases.
  4. Sense of Belonging: Good onboarding often involves community engagement or makes customers feel like they’re part of a brand’s community or ethos.

Detrimental Consequences of the Bad Onboarding

Consequences of the bad Customer Onboarding
  1. Frustration and Confusion: Inefficient or unclear onboarding leaves customers feeling lost and frustrated. Negative emotion will be transferred to the brand, product, or service.
  2. Decreased Trust: If customers face challenges during onboarding, they may start questioning the brand’s reliability and its other offerings.
  3. Cognitive Dissonance: Bad onboarding leads to cognitive dissonance, where customers regret the purchase or feel the product doesn’t match up to its advertising.
  4. Avoidance: Future interactions or purchases from the same brand may be avoided based on a single negative onboarding experience.
  5. Negative Word of Mouth: A poor onboarding experience not only affects individual customers but also leads to negative word of mouth, deterring potential new customers.

In essence, the psychology behind onboarding ties back to fundamental human desires for clarity, validation, and ease. Brands that tap into these desires effectively create loyal customers, while those that don’t inadvertently push customers away.

When is Ecommerce Onboarding Necessary and When It’s Not, but It Will Serve You Well?

E-commerce onboarding becomes essential for products that require specific knowledge or techniques for optimal use. Complex electronics, DIY kits, or high-end kitchen gadgets require a good onboarding strategy to help shoppers navigate initial hurdles.

When a user can swiftly set up a new espresso machine or operate a state-of-the-art drone, satisfaction and word-of-mouth recommendations increase. Clear onboarding materials reduce returns and boost brand loyalty.

Product adoption framework that works best for eCommerce businesses

On the flip side, eCommerce onboarding can also be a clever marketing strategy for simpler products. Fashion, beauty, or basic home goods might not need intricate explanations, but onboarding content will enhance the user experience.

  • A brand selling scarves, for instance, can provide stylish tying techniques.
  • Cookware brands might share unique recipes.

While users already know the product’s basic function, onboarding offers added value, turning ordinary products into experiences.

5 Common Ecommerce Onboarding Methods You Should Consider Using

Here are the five most common and often-used onboarding methods eCommerce businesses employ:


Written Manuals and Instructions

Printed manuals serve as indispensable assistance for customers. When creating one, focus on a clear and user-friendly layout. The content should be divided based on phases or components, making it simple for the reader. For best results:

  • Collaborate with a graphic designer to produce easy-to-understand illustrations, complementing written instructions.
  • Opt for robust, reader-friendly materials—perhaps a matte paper with spiral binding to ensure durability.
  • Strategically position the manual within the product packaging for easy discovery.

An advantage of a detailed manual is that it significantly reduces customer inquiries post-purchase. The manual, if well-designed, also minimizes the risk of users mishandling the product, leading to fewer returns and higher satisfaction.


Tutorial Videos

Videos, as instructional tools, hold immense value. Focus on your product’s main features and functionalities to make the most of them.

  1. Before production, draft a clear storyboard outlining the flow and key points.
  2. High-definition visuals are essential.
  3. Use clear annotations and graphics to emphasize essential steps or parts.
  4. Platform choice for hosting matters—YouTube, with its vast user base, is an excellent choice. Proper meta tags, descriptions, and titles will increase video visibility.
  5. Quality audio is equally crucial.
  6. Consider adding subtitles that cater to non-native speakers or the hearing-impaired.

Benefits of Videos in E-commerce Onboarding

1. Enhanced Engagement and Comprehension: Videos offer dynamic and visual storytelling, making complex instructions easier to grasp. According to a report by HubSpot, 72% of customers prefer learning about a product or service through video rather than text.

2. Improved Website Ranking: Embedding videos can significantly boost a website’s ranking in search results. Google’s algorithms prioritize pages that engage users for longer periods. Videos do that. A study from Moovly suggests you’re 53 times more likely to show up on Google’s first page if your website incorporates videos.

3. Enhanced Shareability: Videos have high shareability, especially when entertaining, educational, or evoking emotion. Social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter prioritize video content, leading to a higher organic reach.

4. Boosting Brand Authority: Professional, high-quality videos reflect a brand’s commitment to quality and professionalism. It communicates that a brand is willing to invest in the best user experience.

5. Greater Accessibility: Videos can easily be optimized for all devices—desktops, tablets, and mobiles. With the proliferation of mobile internet use, responsiveness is paramount. According to a report by Statista, over 50% of all global web pages served were accessed via mobile phones in 2020.

6. Emotional Connection: Videos have the power to evoke emotions. Visuals, music, and narratives create a deeper connection with the audience, making the onboarding process more memorable and impactful.

7. Encourages Social Proof: Customers often create unboxing or tutorial videos as testimonials. User-generated content, especially videos, are powerful endorsements for new buyers.


Unboxing Experience

Ecommerce onboarding - unboxing experience as the powerful tool

Unboxing offers customers a memorable first impression, setting the tone for the entire experience with your product.

  • Prioritize using environmentally friendly yet premium-quality packaging that speaks volumes about the brand’s ethos. Inside the box, how you organize things matters.
  • The main item should be front and center, with any extra parts or add-ons sorted in clear sections.
  • QR codes are beneficial—they can lead customers directly to online tutorials or setup guides, making the onboarding smoother.
  • Personal touches, like a custom thank-you note or a small complimentary product sample, can elevate the experience.

A positive unboxing experience impresses first-time buyers and drives great word-of-mouth, video shares and 5-star reviews.


FAQs and Knowledge Bases

If you want to employ a proactive approach to eCommerce onboarding:

  • Add a comprehensive FAQ to your website.
  • Start by listing recurrent product-related queries.
  • Organize these queries into clear categories: setup, usage, maintenance, and any potential troubleshooting.
  • A concise, jargon-free answer should follow each question.
  • Add relevant visuals or links to video guides.
  • Ensure the FAQ section on your website is easy to navigate, possibly with a search bar or category filters. 

Keep updating the Q&A section, adding new questions, or refining answers based on feedback. When shoppers find quick answers without contacting customer support, it saves time for both parties and strengthens the brand’s image.


Interactive Product Demos

Providing potential buyers with an interactive feel for the product will bridge the online-offline shopping gap. Tools like Sketchfab create accurate 3D visual representations of products.

  • Enable functionalities like zoom, rotate, and view from different angles.
  • If selling tech items, create interactive demos replicating the product’s interface, giving users a feel without owning it.
  • Ensure such demos are optimized across devices, especially mobiles, as many users might access them.
  • Highlight specific product features using clickable markers, providing more in-depth information when clicked.

A well-executed product demo not only aids in the pre-purchase decision-making process but also reduces post-purchase dissonance.


You may combine several of the listed eCommerce onboarding methods. Which one you’ll use depends on your niche, competitive analysis, and your shoppers’ expectations.

But, no matter how developed your product adoption process is, a human touch is irreplaceable. 

Provide 24/7 customer support or easy-to-contact methods. If email is the only communication channel (small eCommerce business), clearly state the maximum time a buyer will wait for your response. Consider outsourcing customer support for onboarding, especially if you sell complex, difficult-to-adopt, products.

Remote Customer Onboarding: 6 Unconventional Methods for Memorable First Impressions

Remote Ecommerce onboarding for easy product adoption

Here are some imaginative eCommerce onboarding methods eCommerce giants already (successfully) use:


Augmented Reality (AR) Tutorials

Stepping into the future, AR offers users a lifelike, interactive product experience. Using AR apps, customers can visualize and interact with a product in a real-world environment before purchasing. For instance, a furniture store could allow users to virtually “place” a piece in their living room, helping them visualize fit, color, and aesthetics. You’d need AR development tools like ARKit (Apple) or ARCore (Google) to implement the method. Collaboration with AR developers ensures a seamless experience. Proper marketing, showcasing the AR features, will attract tech-savvy customers. A smooth AR experience leads to more confident purchases, reduced returns, and increased customer satisfaction.


Gamified Product Explorations

Turning product exploration into a game boosts user engagement. When users explore features, watch videos, or dive into product details, they accumulate points. Points often lead to rewards like discounts or badges. A successful gamified experience blends UX design and game design principles. The main goal is to make product onboarding fun and hands-on. Gamification keeps users longer on your website, which raises your eCommerce website’s ranking in searches. Platforms like Badgeville and Bunchball are great tools for setting up gamified systems. Brands with a game-inspired approach stand out and leave a lasting impression, encouraging customers to share positive experiences and refer friends and social connections to your brand.


Personalized Product Walkthroughs

Using AI and machine learning, you can track user behavior, preferences, and purchase history. Based on the data, create tailored product walkthroughs outlining features or aspects that resonate most with individual users. Tools like Optimizely or Dynamic Yield will assist in achieving such personalization. The key is to strike a balance—offering tailored content without coming off as intrusive. Customers appreciate curated experiences that feel seen and understood, leading to deeper brand loyalty and trust.


Peer-driven Onboarding Workshops

Harness the power of the community. Organize virtual workshops where seasoned product users guide newcomers through the product’s features. A peer-led approach builds trust, as customers value advice from fellow users more than directives from the brand. For hosting these interactions, platforms like Zoom or Webex are ideal choices. Promote upcoming workshops through email campaigns or site banners. The communal feel of learning, sharing tips, and clarifying doubts in real time creates a sense of belonging, fostering brand community and loyalty.


Story-based Product Introductions

Ecommerce onboarding and remote product adoption

Narratives have a unique grip on human attention. Instead of traditional product descriptions or tutorials, craft a story showcasing the product’s journey or its impact on a user’s life. Storytelling can be text-based, visual (comics/graphic style), or video format. Engage content creators or storytellers to weave compelling narratives. Platforms like StoryStream help curate and manage brand stories. A captivating story provides context, making the product more relatable and memorable. Through stories, customers don’t just buy a product; they invest in an experience.


Interactive Quizzes and Product Matchers*↓

Instead of users navigating vast catalogs, offer interactive quizzes that guide them to products matching individual needs. For instance, a skincare brand might ask about skin type, concerns, and preferences, then suggest a tailored regimen. Tools like Typeform or Outgrow assist in creating engaging quizzes.

Quizzes present dual benefits: customers discover products that fit specific requirements, and brands collect valuable data for future personalization. Through quizzes, the product discovery process becomes interactive, efficient, and tailored, leading to satisfied customers and reduced return rates.

*Matchers are algorithms or features on eCommerce websites that assist customers in finding products best suited to individual preferences. Algorithms analyze customer’s responses, behaviors, past purchases, and other data and then suggest products that best align wiwith theuyer’s wishes.

For instance, in cosmetics, a product matcher might ask a series of questions about skin type, color preferences, and concerns (like acne or aging) and then suggest a curated list of products that align with the user’s responses.

Another example would be in the world of online clothing retail, where a product matcher could suggest sizes and styles based on a user’s past purchases and preferences.

The primary goal of product matchers is to simplify the shopping process, reduce decision fatigue, and increase sales.

20 Benefits of Effective Customer Onboarding: Reducing Returns and Boosting Sales

How Does Ecommerce Onboarding Increase Sales

Here are 20 benefits you’ll experience if you invest in effective customer onboarding:

  1. Enhanced Customer Engagement: Effective eCommerce onboarding provides clarity, which keeps customers engaged and reduces drop-offs.
  2. Increased Sales and Revenue: When customers understand a product fully, they are more likely to make purchases and even opt for premium choices.
  3. Reduced Product Returns: A well-informed shopper is less likely to have mismatched expectations, reducing the chances of returns.
  4. Strengthened Brand Loyalty: Quality onboarding shows customers that a brand values their experience, fostering a deeper brand-customer relationship.
  5. Streamlined User Experience: An intuitive onboarding process ensures users find what they need without confusion, promoting smoother navigation.
  6. Fewer Customer Support Inquiries: Comprehensive onboarding reduces uncertainties, meaning fewer users seek external support.
  7. Faster Product Adoption: Clear onboarding accelerates a user’s journey from curiosity to familiarity, making them confident users faster.
  8. Improved Product Reviews and Feedback: When initial interactions are positive, customers are more inclined to leave favorable reviews.
  9. Higher Customer Retention Rates: A smooth start to a customer’s journey is likely to keep them returning, increasing long-term engagement.
  10. Positive Word-of-Mouth Referrals: Exceptional initial experiences drive customers to share and advocate for the brand.
  11. Enhanced Brand Image and Reputation: Delivering a top-notch starting experience for customers establishes a brand as user-centric and reliable.
  12. Reduced Shopping Cart Abandonment: Effective onboarding guides users towards completion, reducing the chances of them leaving items in the cart.
  13. Shortened Sales Cycle: When users are onboarded effectively, decision-making hurdles are minimized, leading to quicker sales.
  14. Increased Customer Lifetime Value: Consistent positive experiences from the start ensure customers keep coming back, enhancing individual total value to the brand.
  15. Boosted Cross-selling and Up-selling Opportunities: An engaged and well-informed user is more receptive to related product suggestions, opening up cross-sell and up-sell potential.
  16. Lowered Customer Acquisition Costs: A strong onboarding process should be incorporated into your eCommerce growth strategy since it reduces the need for costly marketing campaigns. How? Delighted customers share and refer to your products, staying with you for a long time and attracting new buyers.
  17. Better Data Collection and Insights: Engaging onboarding experiences motivate users to interact more, providing valuable metrics for refining strategies.
  18. Higher Repeat Purchase Rates: Positive initial experiences often translate to customers revisiting and making additional purchases.
  19. Expanded Market Reach: Effective onboarding experiences shared by satisfied customers expand the brand’s reach to untapped customer segments.
  20. Enhanced Competitive Advantage: Brands that prioritize effective onboarding outpace competitors in customer satisfaction and retention.

6-Step Checklist for a Great Ecommerce Customer Onboarding Process

Our team put together a guide to help you get customers in quickly. For the best results, try six-step customer onboarding checklist for eCommerce.

1. Welcome the Customer

The first step in the client onboarding process is to welcome the client to your company. Use a personal call, email, or video message from the account manager or a designated team member. The goal is to make the client feel valued and understood.

Here are a few tips for welcoming a customer:

  • Make it personal: Send a personalized message or call to the customer. Use the buyer’s name and express gratitude.
  • Set the tone: Use a friendly and welcoming tone in your message, to make the customer feel at ease.
  • Provide information: Include relevant information about your business. Provide contact details, a website, and customer service hours.
  • Give a preview: Provide a brief overview of what the customer can expect during the onboarding process.
  • Make them feel special: Let consumers know they are important to you and that you are dedicated to providing them with a great experience.

Southbank Centre, a massive art gallery in the UK, does welcome emails quite well.

By following listed tips, you will make a great first impression, and set the tone for an exceptional customer experience ecosystem.

2. Collect Data

It’s important to get information in order to anticipate, understand and exceed what customers expect and optimize your onboarding process.

The data you gather should include contact information, business information, project details, and client expectations.

Take Blooom as an example. Before selling robo-adviser tech to Morgan Stanley, they were doing quite well. A key to Bloom’s success was figuring out client expectations via the sign-up process.

Here are a few ways to collect customer data:

  • Use a sign-up or registration form on your website.
  • Send a survey or questionnaire to gather information about the customer’s needs and preferences.
  • Use a customer relationship management (CRM) system to track and store customer information.
  • Ask customers for the feedback during the sales process or on the phone.
  • Use social media platforms to gather information about the customer.

3. Clarify Expectations

Clarifying expectations with the client ensures that everyone is on the same page. Hence, the method has earned its place on our customer success onboarding checklist. It involves talking about the project’s goals, timelines, deliverables, and more.

Here are a few questions to ask:

  • What are your goals for the project?
  • What are your expectations for the outcome?
  • What are the key deliverables that are important to you?
  • What are the timelines for your project?
  • How will you measure success?
  • Are there any specific requirements or constraints that you have?

Asking the listed questions will prevent disappointing your shoppers.

4. Communicate Internally

Once the client’s information and expectations have been gathered, it’s important to talk with the right teams on the inside. Doing that ensures they are aware of the client’s needs and requirements.

Here is a step-by-step guide for internal communication:

  1. Identify the relevant team members
  2. Schedule a meeting or call to discuss the client’s needs and expectations
  3. Share the collected data and clarify any questions
  4. Assign tasks and responsibilities
  5. Follow-up to ensure that the team is on track and has everything they need

Everyone will be aligned and ready to deliver a great experience.

5. Keep Communication Consistent

For the onboarding process to go well, try to keep the lines of communication open with the client. You may do any of the following:

  • Schedule regular check-ins
  • Provide project updates
  • Respond to any questions or concerns
  • Keep the client informed and engaged

Consistent communication is the basis for great customer service. It will save you a lot of time and money you’ll otherwise spend responding to clients’ complaints.

Consistency in communication prevents misunderstandings and potential problems. It ensures that both parties are on the same page, and it helps to maintain transparency throughout the process. The outcome is long-lasting relationship.

6. Outline the Technology and Tools

Finally, it’s important to outline the required technology and tools. Utilize the software, platforms, and tools necessary to manage the project, talk to the client, and deliver the final product.

For example, imagine you just made a sale on your dropshipping store. You could send the customer a purchase confirmation email. In it, you can show them how they can track shipment using Trackmage.

Be sure to provide any necessary training or support to help the client get the most out of the tools.

Conclusion: 4 Sentences to Remember

Ecommerce onboarding might be one of the most powerful marketing tools for any successful online store. Smartly designed and supported with original methods and easy-to-grasp visuals, the product adoption process will significantly influence your profit margins. Statistical data and case studies support the fact that you definitely should invest time and money to create an effective onboarding process for your eCommerce store.
The best remote product adoption practices suggest choosing several different methods and incorporating them into one powerful eCommerce onboarding strategy.

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