We hear a lot about customer journey mapping in eCommerce, but what exactly is it, and what kind of impact can it have on businesses?

Customer journey mapping is an incredibly powerful tool for eCommerce brands. Customer journey maps clarify the path of the customer, and define user needs, intent, behaviors, and opportunities.

It is also a level-set for engagement. How are customers engaging, what tools are they using, what are their behaviors? These are just a few key questions that the journey mapping process asks. 

Ultimately, though, journey mapping is an exercise in truth-telling. It determines where people drop off the path to purchase, and more importantly, why. Often the ‘why’ isn’t necessarily what businesses have anticipated, and can be an unpleasant reality check. 

Yet the beauty of journey mapping is that it’s a research-based and data-driven process. While the truth can be uncomfortable, it’s also irrefutable. Going through the process equips organizations with a deep understanding of their customers, and the knowledge and confidence to make adjustments that boost their bottom line. 

The Four Types of Journey Mapping

Four Types of Journey Mapping graphic

Journey maps can either be user-focused, or intent-driven. Typically in today’s market they are intent-driven, as roles have combined. 

We categorize journey mapping into four types:

  • Customer - this more traditional approach captures a customer’s specific exchanges with a product or tool. Customer-focused mapping tends to focus on actions taken and breakdowns within this flow. It’s also specific to a role. 
  • Empathy - maps the emotional exchanges (i.e. what a customer says, things, does, feels, etc.) and gathers the user’s perspective.
  • Experience - a more comprehensive, end-to-end map. It captures all exchanges, behaviors, and actions. Generally experience mapping isn’t specific to a role, but more so captures general behaviors.
  • Service - this is internally-focused and provides insight into how people, processes, and tools come together to offer a service exchange as a collective. Typically this mapping process identifies operational inefficiencies. 

Journey Mapping for eCommerce

Journey Mapping for eCommerce typically is intended to drive two common goals:

  1. Gain market share
  2. Increase cart size

In eCommerce journey mapping, it becomes especially important to appreciate context. For example, perhaps a customer is shopping for the right outfit to wear on a date. A smart business will not only promote a nice button down, but perhaps a popular cologne and a smart pair of dress shoes. 

Appreciating context allows brands to better understand the customer experience. That context can be location-based (i.e. are they in-store, or are they shopping online from Boston in the winter, etc.); emotion-driven (as in the date outfit example), etc. 

Without knowing the context, it’s challenging to properly cross-reference products, content, and tools. Context exposes opportunities and even allows brands to redirect customers.

Perhaps your audience spends a significant amount of time on Instagram. Then after they’ve spent an hour on Google researching new couches, they’ll see targeted ads from your furniture company while scrolling through social media. 

But if you don’t know where your customers spend their time, then it’s unlikely you’ll be able to successfully retarget them.

Journey mapping for eCommerce also determines exactly what the purchase pathway looks like. Typically, it’s far more complex than we imagine. Most customers read reviews, or need to have an excellent service experience. Your brand may have a great website, but if there’s no online chat support, perhaps that’s enough to cause customers to drop off. 

Journey mapping identifies these problems and turns them into opportunities. 

Customer Journey Process

COVID-19's Impact on Customer Journeys infographic

Understandably, when organizations invest in the journey mapping process, they want immediate results. 

Depending on the maturity of your organization, the time spent developing a journey map varies. More digitally-mature businesses have more data readily available, so it’s easier to dive in. 

Journeys are also forever evolving. Smart brands will have ongoing monitoring of analytics. The most successful journey maps are monitored against performance, and continually updated. Whatever your journey map was prior to COVID-19 - it’s drastically changed. The pandemic has impacted the way people shop, and your journey map should reflect those changes. In fact, according to a recent study from Digital Commerce 360

  • 36% of customers now shop online weekly (up from pre-COVID numbers of 28%)
  • 68% of customers now expect a better digital experience from brands than they did pre-COVID
  • 79% say contactless store pickup is very important to them
  • 90% prefer in-home delivery over all other fulfillment options

Driving ROI through Journey Mapping

Now the million-dollar question: how can journey mapping drive ROI? 

Journey mapping looks at your business through a lens of opportunity losses:

  • Where might competition come in and steal attention? 
  • Where do people disengage?
  • What’s causing a lack of visibility?
  • Are there mechanical or tactical errors (perhaps no option to pay with PayPal, or lack of free shipping)?

Consequently, journey mapping identifies the areas where you see the most loss, as well as areas where you have the most opportunity to increase sales. 

The journey mapping process takes time, but often allows brands to start with the low-hanging fruit, and identify areas of concern that are quick to fix. Once the easy changes are made, brands can hone in on addressing the more complex challenges. 

It often helps to create an opportunity matrix, which identifies short/mid/long-term benefits, and charts effort vs. value so that you sink resources into changes that give you the best ROI.

Next Steps

Interested in learning more? Reach out to the team of experts at Object Edge. We’ll schedule a free consultation to discuss the journey mapping process.

About the Author

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Sergio Ortiz

Director of UX Labs

As the Director of UX Labs for Object Edge, Sergio brings a long, and diverse history of partnering with organizations of all sizes, types, and needs. Most recently, Sergio’s focus is in designing business strategies that bring digital content experiences to large audiences that intuitively resonate with end users and help brands expand market share and drive new business. 

The current landscape of digital products; whether wearables, voice activated devices, or traditional touch interfaces, means that his role in helping build user interfaces is much broader than ever before. A true believer in behavioral sciences, Sergio is a strong advocate for engaging with those who engage with your brand. It’s a strong balance of business need and audience demand where Sergio finds a hyper focused landing spot for brands to succeed.

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