eCommerce Customer Journey Maps (+ Tips for Improvement)

eCommerce Customer Journey Maps (Plus Tips for Improvement)

eCommerce Customer Journey Maps blog image

eCommerce customer journey maps are like roadmaps showing how customers travel through your online store. In this article, we’ll explain what they are and provide helpful tips for improvement.

If you own or plan to start an eCommerce business, understanding and enhancing your customer journey map can boost your success and customer satisfaction.

  • eCommerce Businesses can boost success by analyzing customer behavior at every stage of the journey
  • Satisfying existing customers is crucial for turning them into repeat customers and brand advocates
  • Leverage Google Analytics to gather essential data about your online store visitors
  • Creating meaningful touchpoints is essential for improving the customer journey
  • Personalization is key to keeping repeat customers engaged and coming back for more

What Is an eCommerce Customer Journey?

The eCommerce customer journey is like a path a potential customer follows before purchasing. It all starts when they become aware of a product or service, then they consider whether it suits their needs, and finally, they decide to buy it.

The experience customers have on your website greatly affects their opinion of your business, even if they don’t make a purchase.

Visualizing each stage in this journey helps you understand their needs, motivations, and frustrations at various points.

This insight allows you to identify areas for improvement, making the customer experience more enjoyable. We’ll dive deeper into the stages—awareness, consideration, decision, retention, and advocacy—in later sections.

B2B eCommerce Customer Journey

B2B, which stands for “business to business,” involves companies selling products or services to other businesses rather than individual consumers. In the B2B eCommerce customer journey, touchpoints occur before, during, and after a sale. B2B sales cycles are often longer, so more touch points tend to occur in the awareness and consideration stages.

B2B customer experience centers around the interactions that companies, teams, and employees have with a brand.

B2C eCommerce Customer Journey

In the B2Cbusiness to consumer” eCommerce customer journey, the focus is on individual consumers rather than businesses. One key distinction from the B2B journey is that the B2C process is typically shorter, with consumers making quicker purchase decisions.

While B2B customer experience is tailored to companies and teams, B2C centers on the individual shopper’s interactions with a brand. The stages—awareness, consideration, decision, retention (or loyalty), and advocacy—remain consistent, but the pace and scope differ.

5 Stages of the eCommerce Customer Journey

The eCommerce customer journey consists of five essential stages, each playing a crucial role in shaping the path to purchase. Understanding these phases is vital because 84% of consumers conduct extensive online research before making offline purchases, and 77% explore in-store but make their final purchase online.

In the following subsections, we’ll look at each stage, providing a detailed roadmap to enhance your eCommerce strategy and be present at every step of your customer’s journeys.

  1. Awareness

This is where customers first encounter your product or service and become acquainted with your brand.

It’s equally your opportunity to discern how they stumbled upon your offering. Did they arrive via a search engine, affirming the strength of your SEO strategy? Or was it through social media ads or traditional mediums?

Beyond knowing where they originate, you can explore their behaviors upon arrival. Do they explore specific landing pages, offering insights into their product interests? It’s akin to a mutual learning phase; customers discover your business, while you gather crucial insights into their preferences and needs.

Successful eCommerce businesses employ content strategies to bolster brand and product awareness. These strategies often involve infographics, a format tailor-made for the awareness stage. Infographics are easily digestible and highly shareable, making them ideal for engaging potential customers, especially those with shorter attention spans.

  1. Consideration

In the consideration stage, customers transition from casual browsing to displaying genuine interest in specific products or services. For instance, take a brand like Nike, where potential customers may begin exploring the latest Air Max sneakers, signaling their product-specific curiosity.

From your business’s perspective, this stage of behavior offers invaluable insights. Analyzing customer interactions lets you discern what’s effective and what’s not, paving the way for reduced bounce rates and increased customer exploration.

A tailored content strategy is pivotal during this phase. While informative blog posts and engaging social media content capture attention in the awareness stage, the consideration stage demands different tools.

Case studies and product demos come into play, allowing prospects to assess the value of your offerings and make more informed decisions.

  1. Decision

The decision stage, often called the conversion stage, is critical in eCommerce. It’s the key phase, but it’s not always a guaranteed sale.

Some customers might add products to their cart or wishlist without purchasing. However, in most cases, this marks the moment when a prospective customer becomes an actual one, influencing your conversion rate.

This is where businesses must fulfill any promises to bring customers to this point. It hinges on aligning all processes, including marketing, sales, and customer service, to provide a consistent message and service quality. Think of our Nike Air Max sneakers – this is when the customer decides to make that purchase.

To ensure success at this stage, your product pages should feature;

  • Clear descriptions
  • High-quality images
  • A Streamlined checkout process

17% of U.S. online shoppers have abandoned orders due to a lengthy or complicated checkout process, emphasizing the importance of a smooth conversion process.

  1. Retention

While a single purchase is gratifying, having customers return for more is the true hallmark of success. It signifies their high satisfaction with their journey and experiences thus far. At this stage, brand loyalty emerges, with customers consistently favoring your site over others.

For businesses, the challenge lies in maintaining an excellent experience consistently. Providing a great experience once is relatively straightforward, but doing it repeatedly is where the true test lies.

Content ideas for retention encompass keeping customers informed about relevant new product developments, anticipating their future needs, and crafting enticing offers, as well as sharing stories of long-time customers’ experiences, nurturing that vital bond.

  1. Advocacy

Advocacy, often dubbed the loyalty phase, is often an overlooked part of the customer journey, likely because it’s not an achievement for every customer.

Case in point, no amount of elaborate marketing or sales strategies can compensate for one negative comment from an existing customer, potentially deterring new ones. Research by Hiver uncovered that 89% of customers publicly discuss unfavorable customer support experiences.

While many companies may fall short at this stage, those who successfully retain customers hope for their transformation into advocates and brand ambassadors, holding high lifetime value. At this point, your most loyal customers not only make purchases but also engage extensively.

They interact with your brand across various touch points like your homepage, blogs, and social media. Most notably, from a marketing perspective, they actively share your content on their own platforms, enthusiastically advocate your products and services, recommend you to others, and even pen glowing reviews.

Those Nike Air Max sneakers, for instance, would receive rave reviews from these advocates.

What Is an eCommerce Customer Journey Map?

An eCommerce customer journey map is a visual representation outlining how customers interact with your company, encompassing online channels, in-store experiences, and interactions with your customer support team.

These maps shed light on the customer’s origin, the duration or number of visits it takes to progress from one stage to the next, user objectives at each phase, and behavior exhibited within each segment.

Check out this Canva template below as an example of how to get started with your customer journey map.

Example of a customer journey map.

Why Is Customer Journey Mapping Important?

Customer journey mapping is indispensable as it compels you to examine how customers genuinely perceive your brand, dispelling preconceived notions. A meticulously researched map offers a visual representation of customer thoughts, emotions, and actions, facilitating a profound comprehension of their core requirements.

Looking deep into customer emotions and proactively addressing them fosters a sense of empathy, establishing brand trust.

  • Efficiency: Streamlining operations for enhanced customer satisfaction.
  • Effectiveness: Maximizing the impact of customer interactions.
  • Understanding: Gaining deep insights into customer needs and expectations.
  • Goal setting: Setting clear objectives to guide customer interactions.
  • Planning: Crafting well-informed strategies for more meaningful engagements.
  • Reducing pain: Identifying pain points and proactively mitigating them for a smoother customer journey.

How to Map a Customer Journey in eCommerce in 8 Steps

The process of crafting a customer journey map can vary in duration, from swift and concise to more comprehensive, contingent upon factors like the extent of stakeholder involvement, the depth of data collection and analysis, and the multitude of touchpoints within your business.

Whether it’s a matter of days or the commitment of weeks and even months, the investment is worthwhile. Below, we will guide you through eight essential steps in this journey.

Step 1: Set Clear Goals

Before embarking on creating a Customer Journey Map (CJM), be sure to determine the ’why’ and ‘who’ of its necessity. Identify the individuals who will directly utilize this map and the foundational experiences that guide it.

Crafting a precise Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is vital in highlighting the requirements of prospective and existing customers, ensuring the delivery of substantial value for continued engagement with your product. Here’s how you can set clear goals:

  • Clearly define your destination
  • Choose the metrics to measure success
  • Establish quarterly milestones aligned with your goals
  • Maintain a disciplined approach to monitor progress and adjust your plan as needed to reach your destination

Step 2: Learn More about Your Customers

Gathering information about your current and potential customers is crucial to creating a comprehensive customer journey map. Start by analyzing available historical data and processing relevant analytics data.

In the context of our Nike Air Max sneakers, consider the following:

  • Utilize website analytics to understand user behavior, where they come from, what they’re looking for, and at which stage they may be leaving your product pages
  • Leverage social media platforms to monitor brand mentions, gauge sentiment (positive or negative), and assess the demographics of your audience. Analyze popular content and engagement metrics to gain valuable insights.
  • Don’t overlook the effectiveness of surveys; they can provide valuable customer feedback and opinions. Consider sending surveys via email, and perhaps offer incentives to encourage participation.
  • Collect and analyze various metrics related to your products or services, including usage frequency and popularity. The more data you gather, the stronger the foundation for your customer journey map.

Step 3: Form Your Customer Persona

Creating a customer persona is essential to understand better and tailor your marketing efforts. Your ICP is a detailed representation of your typical customer, formed using the data collected in the previous step. While there may be several customer segments, focusing on one at a time is advisable for more effective targeting.

To construct a comprehensive buyer persona, consider various criteria, including:

  • Demographics
  • Education
  • Hobbies
  • Job title
  • Income range
  • Goals and motivations
  • Values
  • Social circles
  • Behavioral patterns

For instance, while we may not have exact demographics for Air Max consumers, we can make some educated assumptions. This could include age groups, preferences for athletic or casual wear, and interest in fitness trends.

The more detailed and accurate your typical customer profile, the more effective your customer journey map will be in addressing their specific needs.

Step 4: List Out eCommerce Customer Journey Touchpoints

These touchpoints include website interactions, social media, email newsletters, paid advertising, PR mentions, and various other channels.

Each interaction point should be analyzed, considering the customer’s actions, emotions, motivations, and potential obstacles or pain points that may hinder their progress.

For instance, imagine a customer journey involving the purchase of Nike Air Max sneakers:

  • Actions: The customer visits the product page, adds the sneakers to their cart, and proceeds to the checkout page but abandons the purchase before entering their credit card details.
  • Emotions and motivation: The customer might have excitement or curiosity when viewing the sneakers, but this could turn to hesitation when asked for payment details. Their motivation is to acquire the sneakers.
  • Obstacles and pain points: Potential obstacles could include concerns about payment security, discomfort with the checkout process, or distractions leading to cart abandonment.

In response to these scenarios, businesses can implement various strategies:

  • Optimize website speed and UX design. Make it user-friendly and ensure your pages load in less than two seconds.
  • Improve the shopping cart experience with automatic calculations and easy editing options
  • Provide clear security information and onboarding for payment processes
  • Engage in reactivation funnels, email reminders, and remarketing
  • Offer special incentives like promo codes to encourage purchases

This process applies to all products or services and helps address customer concerns and discomfort, increasing customer lifetime value and reducing potential profit losses.

The complexity of the product or service may introduce additional stages, reasons, and reactions, but the key is to proactively respond to user doubts and uncertainties to enhance their experience.

Step 5: Determine the Available and Required Resources

Developing a customer journey map requires a thorough assessment of the resources already at your disposal and the resources that will be required to enhance the overall customer experience. This process touches nearly every aspect of your business.

For instance, during the analysis of the customer journey map, you might discover that your team lacks the essential tools needed for efficient customer interaction. In such cases, you may need to allocate an additional budget for implementing these necessary services into your workflow.

Incorporating new resources into the map is instrumental in assessing their potential impact on your business and the value they can contribute. This method aids in optimizing resource utilization and ensures the effective management of the entire customer experience.

Step 6: Take Yourself on the Customer Journey

After developing a customer journey map, the real work begins, and part of it involves going on a shopping journey yourself. In this case, yes, you’re actually buying those sneakers (or whatever product you’re mapping).

This step is vital as it allows you to identify flaws, errors, and logical inconsistencies within your customer journey.

Firstly, you should rigorously test all the steps and experience the flow firsthand. By doing so, you’ll be able to spot weaknesses and strengths, growth areas, and opportunities for optimization. This internal testing phase often reveals a substantial percentage of issues that need addressing.

The second step involves conducting a limited test with a small cohort of users. You can run campaigns on a restricted budget to observe how people navigate the journey. Start with small samples and gradually scale up. This process allows you to pinpoint what isn’t working as expected and what isn’t working at all.

By analyzing the results of these tests, you can identify areas where customers’ needs are unmet and where you’re providing valuable experiences that help them solve their problems. This insight is invaluable for refining your customer journey map.

Step 7: Use an eCommerce Customer Journey Template

To streamline the process, consider using an eCommerce customer journey template. You can either create a custom template tailored to your business or find and download various examples from the internet. Visual Paradigm Online, Canva, and offer great resources to help you get started.

These templates serve as valuable starting points, which you can adjust and fine-tune to align perfectly with your unique customer journey.

Example of brick-and-mortar and eCommerce combined customer journey map.

Step 8: Optimize and Improve – Continuously

Customer journey optimization is a continuous process, not a one-time action. Also, building and maintaining loyalty is an ongoing effort. Initially, you may handle tasks manually or semi-automatically, then seek standardization and automation.

Over time, your product evolves into automated funnels, scripts, and interaction mechanisms. To streamline this, you’ll need unified dashboards and analytics. Gradually, you’ll develop a transparent and proactive customer interaction mechanism, consistently enhancing their experience.

eCommerce Customer Journey Map Example

In Spotify’s customer journey map, the user experience encompasses multiple phases:

Visit, Listen, Discover, Share, Discuss, Receive, and Respond.

The journey starts when the customer opens the Spotify app on their mobile device, progressing through browsing suggestions, listening to selected playlists, sharing music with friends, discussing their experiences, and engaging through text communications from Spotify, among other touchpoints.

As one of the world’s leading audio streaming services, Spotify aimed to enhance its music-sharing features for customers. To achieve this, they collaborated with a marketing firm to craft a comprehensive customer journey map.

This user journey map primarily aimed to pinpoint the optimal integration points for music-sharing features within the customer experience.

The map outlines the user’s interactions, actions, thoughts, and feelings at each stage and touchpoint, following a data-driven approach that included research and customer surveys to comprehend user sentiments throughout the journey.

Spotify utilized the insights gained from the customer journey map to identify and address pain points within the user experience, ensuring a smooth and seamless music-sharing process. This optimization encourages more users to share music more frequently, resulting in a significantly higher level of customer satisfaction.

Example of a music shopping experience customer journey map.

How eCommerce Stores Can Improve Their Customer Journey

In the following sections, we will explore key strategies that eCommerce stores can implement to improve their customer journey, such as creating effective touchpoints, optimizing their websites, offering proactive customer support, personalizing interactions, collecting and analyzing data, and remaining flexible in their approach.

These tactics collectively contribute to a seamless and enjoyable journey that drives customer engagement and encourages repeat business.

Create Touchpoints at Every Stage

eCommerce stores should strategically establish touchpoints at every stage. This entails utilizing a comprehensive content strategy that spans awareness, consideration, decision, retention, and advocacy phases.

By delivering valuable and relevant content, businesses can engage customers consistently and guide them through their journey, leaving a lasting positive impression.

Optimize the Website for Different Devices

Creating a smooth customer journey requires optimizing your website for various devices. Implement responsive design, tailored for different phone sizes and holding positions. Simplify navigation menus and forms and optimize the size and location of CTAs.

Eliminate intrusive pop-ups and keep content concise. Furthermore, prioritize fast page loading for an enhanced user experience.

Use Proactive Customer Support

Embrace proactive customer service by anticipating customer needs and promptly addressing any issues, such as shipping delays or service interruptions.

Keep customers informed and offer multiple easily accessible communication channels, ensuring they can reach you with ease. This approach enhances their overall experience and fosters trust.

Focus on Personalization

Personalization is the key to successfully selling online. Tailor your offerings to prospective customers and prioritize customer retention. By understanding individual preferences and needs, you can provide a unique and engaging experience that fosters loyalty and boosts sales.

Collect Data and Be Flexible

In eCommerce website design, collecting data is super important. Track metrics like bounce rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and user behavior.

By analyzing this data, you can adapt and optimize your site for better user experiences and increased sales. Stay flexible and responsive to ever-changing customer needs and market trends.

Final Word

If you are looking to create an online store, you need to ensure you understand the eCommerce customer journey. By mapping the various stages and implementing strategies for improvement, businesses can boost customer satisfaction, drive sales, and foster customer loyalty.

As you embark on this journey, remember that optimizing your website, creating meaningful touchpoints, and harnessing the power of data are key steps to success. To learn more about enhancing your eCommerce journey, explore the best eCommerce platforms and best eCommerce hosting options available to you.

Next Steps: What Now?

Learn More About eCommerce

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 4 phases of the customer journey?

The customer journey typically comprises four phases: awareness, consideration, decision, and loyalty. However, we prefer to view it through five stages: awareness, consideration, decision, retention (or loyalty), and advocacy. These phases encompass the journey from initial awareness of a product or service to customer retention and their potential role as brand advocates.

What is customer journey analytics?

Customer journey analytics involves comprehending the influence of every customer-business interaction. It looks at the data surrounding these touchpoints to assess how they impact customer experiences and behaviors. This process aids businesses in gaining deeper insights into customer journeys and refining their strategies to enhance customer satisfaction and drive business growth.

What is the difference between CX and customer journey?

Customer Experience (CX) is the broader perception customers have of your brand, encompassing all interactions. On the other hand, customer journey refers to the specific path or route a customer follows when interacting with your brand, focusing on individual touchpoints and their sequence.

CX encompasses the entirety of the customer’s relationship with your business, while customer journey narrows the focus to specific stages and interactions.

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