The entire eCommerce customer journey is a series of interactions with a brand. When an organization learns to manage this journey, it reaps in benefits, including customer loyalty, increased revenue, better organizational collaboration, and a competitive edge in the market. Managing the customer journey is an art because the journey is not like a straight road map – it is a multi-touch, multi-channel and cross-functional journey.
Touchpoints and pain points in the customer journey
To understand an eCommerce customer journey, you should know what the touchpoints and pain points in the journey are.
Broadly, “Touchpoints” could be
- Product – Hardware, Software, Services
- Interactions – Phone calls, Websites, Blogs, Social Media, User Forums, etc.
- Messages/Communication: the brand, collaterals, advertising, packaging, etc.
- Settings (where the product is ‘ seen’ ) – the internet, the television, events, shows, etc.
Once you’ve understood the touch points, ask yourself:
- What action does the customer take at every stage or move onward?
- Is the customer motivated to go to the next stage?
- What are the uncertainties or other issues that the customer faces?
- What barriers or costs obstruct the customer’s moving to the next stage?
You would then understand that the “Pain points” in a customer’s eCommerce journey could be linked to the following spheres:
- Financial – how much money spent
- Productivity – what is the efficiency of the product/service
- Processes – how was the customer guided through the entire path of buying
- Support – are the customers getting enough support during their purchase and usage journey
- Communication – is the communication from various levels of the company, clear or disjointed
- Navigation & Checkout – what is the comfort & convenience of website navigation
- Multiple channels – is the movement from one channel to another smooth
- Tracking and delivery – how effortless was this process
When you can seamlessly coordinate & integrate these touchpoints and reduce pain points, you create a superior eCommerce customer journey experience.
Stages of the eCommerce customer journey
A typical journey for an eCommerce customer goes through these stages-
- Engaging through advertising or any other exposure to the brand
- Buying the product or service
- Using it
- Sharing the experience with others on social media or other platforms
- Completing the journey by replacing it or upgrading or choosing the competition
These stages are categorized into the following subheads. Look at the following table to understand more:
|The customer has a problem & does research to seek a solution; discovers brands.
|Organic search, Social media, Online advertising, Word of mouth, PR campaigns
|Weighs & compares options to choose from as per the best solution to the problem/need.
|Direct emails, Reviews, Feature analysis, and Price comparisons
|Narrows down to one option to purchase after analysis & comparison
|The main website, event, online registration, etc.
|Notes if experiences with the brand are enough to stay on and repeat purchase
|Analysis of post-purchase service, delivery, tracking
|Completes purchase, is happy with the experience, becomes a repeat customer, advocates product/service
|Brand interaction on all touchpoints & channels, social networks, word of mouth, and online communities
Understanding this entire journey helps a business understand the market, streamline the experience, reduce the customer pain points, set real & achievable goals, and build plans for the future.
How to Map the eCommerce customer journey?
Organizations who want to excel in customer management and relationships define their value propositions clearly across the touchpoints, emphasize innovation, and use metrics & mapping systems to ensure consistency of the brand experience. Mapping the eCommerce customer journey helps understand the experiences that customers have across touchpoints and the action or pain points that eventually drive an organizational decision-making process.
These are the steps you can take to map the customer journey:
1. Observe and list the TouchPoints.
Touchpoints are the interaction points between your brand and the customer. This could be before the purchase, during the process, and after the purchase. Identifying these is like taking the first step into your customer journey. If you can empathize with the customer and think of what you would do if you have a problem, how you would try & discover a solution, and how you would make your purchase decision, you will understand the ‘ touchpoints’ too.
2. Explore for data
Research, and collect information on your customers from all the possible touchpoints. This helps you understand your customer’s mindset and journey. Also, research the competition. Your data will come from your website, social media, and online surveys. Tracking your potential customer data helps you analyze the demographics and interests better.
3. Define Personas
For a successful e-commerce customer journey mapping, you need well-defined customer personas. A persona is a semi-imaginative character that you create to symbolize your customer segment. This gets built on the demographic background, personality, supposed lifestyle, and shopping choices, and preferably is based on the actual data collected through analytics or surveys. The traits you list combine to personify ‘ somebody’ (maybe with names too). When you are realistic about creating the personas corresponding to the customer segment, you can work that much better on improving their shopping experiences. Tools help you to create personas (e:g Hubspot).
4. Identify the Pain Points
Data from personas helps identify the pain points and decipher the gaps in the customer experience. What do your customers think at every stage, what questions do they ask regarding the brand, what actions do they take subsequently, their needs and expectations, and how their behavior is affected by their emotions and goals.
Ask yourself how your brand will fulfill their expectations and what potential opportunities you can create for a better customer relationship. This will help you veer them towards the next step in the journey.
5. Set Goals:
List what you need from this eCommerce customer journey mapping process. Ask yourself the ‘why’ of your efforts. You should know why you are making this map, what the perspective is, and what experiences to consider. Research helps you stay ahead of your customer in assessing goals, pain points, and solutions.
6. Map the Journey
Armed with all the information from the above pointers; you can now visualize and map your eCommerce customer journey. You know the stages of the journey, and you know how to collect & analyze data at various stages.
Analysis helps you figure out the gaps and fill them with appropriate steps. Plus, the dynamics of customer behavior teach you that the journey map could change with time too. Use Google Analytics, Heatmaps, and Surveys to understand the nuances of customer behavior. Use effective CRM to understand customer behavior for complex sales processes.
Making the customer journey more worthwhile,
eCommerce brands learn daily through their observations of customer behavior and touchpoint analysis the more your observation, the sharper your analysis, and the better your support. eCommerce journey maps help you improve brand interaction, loyalty, and business. Undertaking the mapping is invaluable – and helps you set the path for the present – and future customer journeys.