eCommerce Customer Journey Map: Definition, benefits and structure

What changes does eCommerce, the end of the fourth industrial revolution, bring and how should marketing tactics adapt? Let’s go through some valuable insights about customers, both online and offline.

Customer Journey definition

It represents the stages experienced by a prospect or customer until performs the desired marketing conversion.

Why is important to know and map the eCommerce Customer Journey?

More and more physical stores have migrated and still migrate online, both due to the pandemic and the need to adapt to the more demanding customers.

People have completely changed the way they acquire products and services online: today. they expect quick customer service, look for the best prices and discounts, but also more precise information.

What is the eCommerce Customer Journey Map?

eCommerce Customer Journey Map

It is a visual representation of how the consumer interacts with the store, products and other business assets while completing a buying cycle.

How to use the eCommerce Customer Journey Map

You may see below a chart I created as an example of mapping your customers’ journey, from simple prospects to real brand advocates.

My recommendation is to perform this mapping on a decision-making model such as AIDA or hierarchy of effects and assign for both touchpoints and marketing tools. In most projects there are 6 important stages:

  1. Awareness – Usually it is built via advertisements, customer reviews and word of mouth;
  2. Knowledge – Content marketing is the key here;
  3. Preference – Benefits (What’s in it for me / WIIFM) or brand equity are playing a key role;
  4. Conviction – Your brand’s unique proposition or USP or non-refusable offers determine the prospect to continue;
  5. Purchase – eCommerce tools in your shop will get the customer to buy;
  6. Repurchase – The best proof of customer loyalty.

Customer Journey Map for eCommerce

How to build the eCommerce Customer Journey Map

1.  Build a document template where to record customer journey stages (a Google Sheets or Excel spreadsheet).

2. Write down all touchpoints between you and your customers (owned media and paid media).

3. Review customer messages and comments received on Social Media, on email or via chatbot.

4. Classify consumer feedback and interactions pre & post-conversion. Use a hierarchy of effects model (or AIDA) in order to map better the customer’s decision.

5. Place the categories of interactions in a list or flowchart that comprises the decisional stages.

6. Share this customer journey map to each team that interacts with online customers.

The reason to show the customer journey map to your colleagues is to make sure you get everyone on the same page. For example, the logistics team may not know all details of the online process, while the marketing team may not know the customer’s behaviour after sending a complaint. This way, all eCommerce employees find out how the system behind the company works.

7. Discuss internally the generated map and collect feedback.

8. Prepare the final document and present it internally.

Benefits of mapping your Customers’ Journey

Following the 8 steps above will allow you to get in the shoes of real consumers, better understand their needs and pain points so you can find ways to overcome them.

Mixed user journey: Mobile and desktop devices

Bear in mind that today most customers interact with your brand cross-channel and via multiple devices, using both eCommerce and brick & mortar (offline) touchpoints.

A common eCommerce customer journey scenario

For many businesses such as YMYL (financial services, medical services) a customer can be attracted by your product advertisement on Social Media, could check the product page on the website and bookmark it via his or her mobile phone, but will make the purchase from a desktop computer.

Why is this scenario happening often? Because in non-impulse categories such as the ones listed above, customers require clarifying important details before purchasing. I saw this behaviour a lot with healthcare customers.

eCommerce Customer Journey statistics

Let’s take a look at a few statistics and see what can be learnt from successful in-store campaigns.

The experience offered to the consumer is of great importance. Research from Salesforce’s 2018 State of the Connected Customer study showed that:

  • 69% of customers want to talk to the company in real-time;
  • 80% say are attracted by the experience in the relationship with the company;
  • 60% of consumers in the UK expect their experience to be connected.
    If we want to optimize the entire customer journey process, we need customer journey mapping.

A workshop to design your Customer Journey Map for eCommerce

This process can be a complex or simple one,  depending on how many people or suppliers are involved in this process, how much data you can collect and obviously the number of contact points between your consumers and your brand.

I think a workshop split into two consecutive days would suffice. The audience should be a mix of 4-6 colleagues from marketing, customer service and operations.

You, as a digital marketing expert, should be the host.

Day 1

1.1 Define in clear terms the purpose and objective of the map

Start with a known problem of the web store, keep everything in short lines. As a rule of thumb, if you have 6 call-to-actions on the website that send the visitor to 6 landing pages, it should be enough to map the customer’s journey for your website.

Write two sentences about what you are looking for in this mapping to have it at hand whenever you need it. This is the right time to report what doesn’t work, any technical bug, or pages that don’t convert.

1.2 Collect consumer information and insights

Carefully analyze the collected data as part of the mapping process. Google Analytics, your web store analytics and CRM data should give you plenty of insights regarding the user journey of your website’s visitors.

1.3 Set the team’s expectations for the mapping exercise with examples

It is essential that people be part of the process from the very beginning and understand what is expected from them.

A customer journey map will be much stronger if it is made with a team that is on the same page.

Day 2

2.1 Start mapping the eCommerce Customer Journey 

Write on a board or in a wall-projected Powerpoint presentation the most important events and behaviours of your consumers:

  • relevant website interactions;
  • opportunities that arise;
  • limitations in technology they have encountered;
  • questions they had;
  • positive experiences;
  • pain points.

2.2 Finalize the map with a two-hour exercise

  • Transfer the map to a Customer Journey Template;
  • Share it with the whole team;
  • Set the next actions to be taken after the workshop.

An example of a real Customer journey in eCommerce

A customer’s journey does not take a linear form, from point A to B, but is cyclical or back and forth, multichannel and sometimes quite difficult to visualize.

If we are talking about an online store, we need to identify and use:

  • the buyer persona;
  • questionnaires;
  • A/B tests conclusions;
  • website funnel progress (what actions they take on the website, where they get stuck).

In eCommerce, we can divide the map horizontally into three areas regarding the customer:

  • activities
  • expectations;
  • emotional state.

In order to understand the consumer as a human being, we need to go beyond the website experience and watch what the buyer persona does at home.

Let’s see an example of a housewife in London, a mother of two that has also a part-time remote job.

At 6:30 AM she takes care of the kids, prepares breakfast. At 8:00 AM her kids go to school, so now she can focus on herself and she has plenty of time to enjoy a coffee and online entertainment. She also reads an email from the real estate agent her family contacted, as they look for a new apartment to rent. After receiving an offer, she searches the Internet for more information, but she is disappointed by the agent’s apartment proposals. These actions trigger an action on a different channel: a Facebook Messenger voice call with her husband.

At noon she has some free time, so she takes her bike and goes to the mall not before updating the shopping list on her mobile phone. This time she is also in a hurry because when she returns must focus on her job.

In the evening she prepares dinner with her family. This action is followed by accessing Facebook and text messages with her friends, an activity where she is very relaxed.

If we follow this whole course throughout the day, we realize that not only what happens online needs to be followed, but what worries people emotionally and the actions they take on a daily basis.

Conclusion

Think thoroughly about your customers in order to understand their eCommerce journey only. When putting yourself into their shoes, try to anticipate what they might feel as well.

Last but not least, do not forget that the Customer Journey Map should include both digital behavior and emotional state.

Biography:

Stefan Stroe - RoBloggers tennis cup

International Digital Marketing Manager @ Medicover

I am currently in charge of eCommerce, digital marketing, and SEO performance for 10 markets where Medicover operates diagnostic services (medical laboratories): Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Germany, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine.

All opinions published on this website are personal.

Find out more about Stefan Stroe here.

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