All You Need to Know About Ecommerce Customer Journey Mapping

Navneet Singh, Founder

Ecommerce SEO

Customer journey maps are the most treasured of the several business tools that online retailers can use. If it is not a big part of your business strategy, you could be losing out on sales.

Customer journey maps help you take care of and develop the essential parts of the customer journey. Moreover, it allows you to understand your customers’ position and helps you to improve the varied aspects of their experience.

The maps offer you a high-level overview of your target customers using the content and the touchpoints. All these help the customers move down the sales funnel.

You require taking to customer journey optimization carrying out mapping, which will help you to get: 

  • A higher number of conversions
  • Greater revenues. 
  • And long-term loyalty.

In this post, you will get an insight into e-commerce customer journey mapping. You need to define essential checkpoints to get a clear idea. The practical, real-world examples offer you a straightforward, accurate, and highly comprehensive analysis for creating a roadmap for coming up with appropriate customer journey maps.

Table of Content

  1. What is the Customer Journey?
  2. How Long Does the Customer Journey Take?
  3. What’s the Difference Between the “Customer Journey” and the “Buyer Lifecycle”?
  4. Importance of Customer Journey Mapping
  5. 10 Steps to Writing a Detailed Customer Journey Map
  6. The Best Customer Journey Mapping Tools
  7. Templates and Examples for Your Customer Journey Map

What is the Customer Journey? 

The term “customer journey” is the sum total of the various experiences a customer gets with your brand.

Do not focus on a single customer journey. Instead, look into your store’s “customer journey” or the “average customer journey” representing the most critical interactions an individual can have.

The different interactions split your customers’ actual experiences every day for all customers, regardless of their unique experiences.

Most customer journeys comprise three parts.

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration 
  3. And decision.

Here is a quick overview of all the points that clearly points to customer interactions with a certain part of your brand; he or she will enter the awareness stage.

1. Awareness

The awareness stage can be either passive or active or will include elements of both. A customer may realize that they have a problem or actively conduct more research. They can invariably come across an ad highlighting an issue they did not know about.

It is necessary to understand that a customer is experiencing a problem. Such things are known as pain points. They might be trying to get a remedy or finding a solution to satisfy their desire.

Let us consider a hypothetical situation whereby a person faces trouble sleeping due to back pain.  They find an ad from one of the best mattress companies providing orthopaedic mattresses which help ease back pain problems. Seeing this ad brings them into the awareness stage.

Alternatively, they may actively act on the problem and search for companies that sell mattresses explicitly designed to deal with back pain. They conduct a Google search by typing “best mattresses for back pain,” and your company is listed in the results. Just like in the previous example, they are now in the awareness stage.

Awareness is the starting point of interaction between a potential customer and your brand. Awareness is the outcome of inbound (active) or outbound (passive) activities on a business’ part. 

What are various Inbound e-commerce activities?

The inbound activities include: 

  • Getting search result
  • Content marketing
  • Organic social media posts

and other things. 

What is Outbound E-Commerce Activity?

The outbound activities cover various kinds of marketing activities, such as paid ads. They are places where you will be “interrupting” the activity not associated with the services your store is offering and the products you’re selling.

2. Consideration

A person that reaches the consideration stage will be actively evaluating solutions your business offers. They will mention the pain points and want to invest or spend where they’re offered solutions even if a store has not committed fully.

At this stage, people must research outside of their customer journey. What will they do?

  • Evaluate competitor products.
  • Consult the review websites.
  • And consume information to get solutions.
  • Gain a fuller understanding of things.

When it comes to practical touchpoints of your store, customers should feel like visiting your site and reading the product pages. During the consideration stage, a potential customer encounters your value proposition, the package of services and features you’re offering meaningfully, for the first time.

3. Decision

At this stage, a customer has committed to making a purchase. They might decide to buy a specific product or take a more general approach (for the right product type). In either case, they may feel that they have enough understanding of both the problem and the available solutions to decide.

The different aspects of user experience you need to consider include

  • Abandoned cart emails
  • Retargeting ads

And giving personalized on-site experiences. This helps the potential customers to proceed from the awareness to the decision stage.

In practical e-commerce terms, a customer in the decision stage can add a product to their basket to check out. You need to make the customer’s journey smooth so that they do not abandon their cart or, worse still, go for a competitor.

They must be able to club their decision and purchase, especially when they checkout. It helps to re-emphasize your value proposition. Several tactics for re-emphasizing include free delivery in the checkout or highlighting high demand. These tactics also create urgency.

How Long Does the Customer Journey Take?

The customer journey stages described above can take anywhere from a few minutes to several weeks or months. So, there’s no exact time limit.

Also, a customer journey is not a finite process. It won’t end as soon as a customer makes a purchase.

Several stages in the customer’s journey manifesting themselves better and better and throughout a customer’s lifetime.

A new customer should initiate a purchase while going through several stages such as awareness, consideration, and decision. It helps them learn about the unique problems and get excellent solutions.

What’s the Difference Between the “Customer Journey” and the “Buyer Lifecycle”?

It is necessary to consider the in-depth meaning of the various terms such as “customer journey” and “buyer lifecycle,” but people tend to mix them up. You may hear marketers and business people using these terms interchangeably.

However, customer journey and buyer lifecycle are disparate concepts, and it is important to comprehend the differences.

A significant difference is that the customer journey gets understood from the customer’s perspective, and the buyer’s lifecycle needs only to be understood from the business perspective.

The customer journey involves all the customer experiences while they are visiting your online store.

The buyer’s life cycle is related directly to the sales funnel. You require an understanding of the various stages a customer goes through. It is based on an understanding of your actions and what your customers want you to do. It also helps you to make the right sales and marketing decisions.

On the other hand, a buyer’s lifecycle witnesses customers going through several stages such as a prospect, customer, repeat customer, and evangelist.

You will get an overview of the various stages of the e-commerce buyers’ lifecycle using the following parameters:

  • Impressions – Keep in mind that the initial stage of the buyer’s life cycle will start as a customer interacts with your brand. If they click on a Google Shopping ad or get a friend’s referral or see a social media ad, they will need impressions resulting from both outbound and inbound marketing.

  • Acquisition – In this stage, potential customers are actively interacting with your store, on your site, or through a storefront like the Instagram app. They can visit a particular product page or bookmark an item for purchasing later.

  • Conversion – Customers who purchase will enter the conversion stage. Generally, this stage relates to first-time purchases and also accounts for returning customers or inactive customers.

  • Loyalty – This stage is meant for existing customers who want to make actively make repeat purchases.

  • Advocacy – If a customer continues further in the customer journey, they become your brand’s “evangelist.” They will enter the advocacy stage.

It’s important to understand that a buyer’s life cycle is related to the different customer journey stages.

There are so many overlapping areas of the buyer lifecycle and the customer journey. And there are so many parts of the customer journey corresponding to certain stages of the buyer lifecycle. It is imperative to treat them as two distinct documents having separate purposes.

If the marketers fall for mixing the buyer lifecycle and the customer journey, they give rise to a “map” that is not as good as it must be to understand the complete customer experience and improve it.

The buyer lifecycle allows you to take care of target customers giving appropriate content, and move the same through the sales funnel.

The fact is that the customer journey map gives you an insight into the customer experience and allows for expansion and improvement from the perspective of user experience.

An insight into the “Customer Journey Map.”

A customer journey map involves the visual representation of the various possible experiences customers can get with your store. It also means that you can take care of the sequences whereby these experiences occur commonly.

Customer journeys generally consist of start-to-finish experiences culminating in a purchase or brand evangelism. They might constitute one-off interactions with your brand that don’t go any further.

The key is to keep in mind that a customer journey map accounts for all possible types of experiences, big and small, from the customer’s perspective.

It is an important part of your eCommerce toolkit because it helps you directly improve your customer experience. And, in the end, it improves conversions and revenues.

You do not only need a visual representation of the buyer lifecycle, and the sales funnel to track the progress of customers using pre-defined stages. You must target them using certain content types in your customer journey map. It will let you understand your customers and create the content accordingly. Also, you need to optimize it well.

Several retailers will realize that you can have individual customer journeys which are hugely diverse. The journey will have several touchpoints, right from impression to purchase, allowing the customers to interact with your brand and store. With the customer journey maps, you can account for the various touchpoints, and it will require complex documents to consider all the things.

An online grocery store can help you get a great customer journey map. Make sure that you consider all the detail levels and can use the various ways to tie the various stages with KPIs. Overall, you need to associate well with a buyer’s lifecycle and the sales funnel.

Customer journey mapping involves the various processes whereby businesses understand their customers’ minds and the pain points they’re facing. It gives an insight into various possible customer experiences.

So, the first step is building detailed profiles and taking care of all the customer’s pain points, goals, and problems.

You can find out everything about your brand’s touchpoints and link them to different stages of the overall customer journey as you do this.

You need to link the vital points for attaching the user’s goals to various customer journey stages.


It is important to use analytics data related to customer experience helping you to rate the level of satisfaction for each touchpoint. The analytics data will be an essential part of your customer journey map. It allows you to understand the different areas where you cannot meet the customer’s expectations in the best possible manner.

A study by My Customer and Quadient revealed that customer journey mapping leads to positive results in 90% of cases while emphasizing customer satisfaction.

Importance of Customer Journey Mapping

It is necessary to understand what customer journey mapping is.

Here’s a glance into several aspects.

  • It shows the way your customers interact with your business – A retailer must be able to cover the complete risk while viewing a customer’s journey from the company’s perspective. It can be through the analytics dashboard, in place of the direct customer-facing way. The customer journey maps help you understand your potential customers and check the interaction with your brand from the business perspective. The experts from a good eCommerce SEO Company may give insights that you may not have expected.

  • Always highlight the customers’ needs and how they need them to address at various stages of the buyer lifecycle or sales funnel. The customer journey maps show the lacunae in the user experience. It lets you create content covering the touchpoints presently missing at different stages of your buyer lifecycle. Visitors can talk to a customer service representative for problem-solving, for example, telling that a particular option is not available.  Check if you are not offering an adequate number of social media purchase channels at the decision stage.

  • Show how your value proposition matches customer experience in real-time – Your customer journey map has all the information about the level of satisfaction related to each of your touchpoints. It helps you see how good your value proposition and what mix of benefits your store uniquely offers, and how it matches up to your customers’ actual experiences. It can be whether your store offers free same-day shipping. But, most customers get frustrated as they do not receive their items when expected.

  • Clarifies needs and pain-points – One can create a customer journey map that points out your customers’ needs and pain points. You must research the customer journey map by building detailed customer profiles, taking care of all the requirements and pain points during a customer’s overall experience. These are things you may not have considered. Customer journey mapping is an ongoing process whereby maps get updated quarterly and sometimes monthly. You will become aware of the arising pain points as your research deepens.

  • It helps you recognize the high-level issues in the customer journey (or how things are happening in the process). Several times, customer journey maps comprise the general and specific stages. You can encounter high-level errors using the customer journey map. You will force customers to jump from the consideration to decision quite fast. For example, you can go for a decision with focused touchpoints for the consideration stage.

  • You can understand your current customer’s journey shortcomings – Only a few businesses can offer perfect customer journeys. Moreover, customer journey maps reveal the exact touchpoints missing, underdeveloped, and underperforming. The customer journey also includes satisfaction ratings for all the stages of your existing customer journey. The feedback and analytics data will help you understand it. Also, look at the different customer experiences concerning the business goals and KPIs to highlight the areas requiring further input and development.

  • Clarifies optimization and development priorities – Make sure that you highlight problems, customer journey maps which are also be used to set preferences. Find out the goals, KPIs, and stages that are important to allocate the resources for the associated touchpoints.

  • Helps you to target maximum returns resources – As you prioritize the areas for development and optimization, you will find the touchpoints which require the most improvement. Moreover, this leads to a highly significant impact on your bottom line. It provides you with tangible and revenue-driven decisions about the varied aspects of a customer journey, allowing you to focus on the broad optimization strategy.

10 Steps to Writing a Detailed Customer Journey Map

If you keep the background clear, you will need to check the real process to create the customer journey map.


Here are the steps to creating an effective customer journey map:

Step 1: Build Customer Profiles

Use the data by your customers based on the map: In general, the data will originate from two places-direct feedback and customer analytics.

Retailers require constructing many customer profiles. It is estimated that your potential and current customer base comprises several segments.  Your customer journey map must account for this.

You will want to incorporate several buyer personas into the same map for creating a unique map for every persona. It’s inappropriate to ignore the differences between the several customer segments.

If you’re talking to your customers, always seek the right information:

  • The problem making them visit your site?
  • The competitor sites that they researched.
  • The reason they chose to buy from you (or did not do so)?
  • What was it taht they enjoyed about your site, and was it frustrating for them?
  • The areas they want to improve.
  • Did they get a worthwhile customer experience, and in what ways?

Make sure that you design conversations, whether one-on-one or via opinion forms, to receive information about the whole customer journey, not just its incorrect part. Your profiles need to account for emotions, pain points, desires, etc., at all the different parts of the experience. Ensure that you build feedback mechanisms for all the crucial customer journey stages to get important detailed qualitative data.

Make sure that you build both ideal and real-time customer profiles. The customers may represent a great value for your store and also the person that can offer you the maximum amount of satisfaction. This is what forms the most crucial part of the customer journey map. It is necessary to account for the customer base. It’s not appropriate to include everyone and you must depend on the segments which are the most profitable. However, it’s a good thing to be as broad as possible.

You can draw on insights from the whole of your company. The sales, marketing, and customer service teams are likely to get a deep understanding of psychology and customer behavior. Therefore, leverage the information storehouse. 

You must conduct research and are aware of things you don’t know. You need to take care of the areas where you operate on outdated assumptions or false assumptions. Always list them wherever possible. Take into account your experience and knowledge, which will be an invaluable tool. But it won’t be a substitute for customer feedback and customer feedback.

Step 2: Define General Stages

Generally speaking, customer journeys get split into four

Stages 

Awareness

Consideration

Decision

Loyalty.

There are various ways of mapping the customer journey at a general level.


This framework is under criticism due to its inherent bias as it assumes that customers purchase from you. It is beneficial to find an alternative framework splitting the customer journey into the various generic stages, for example, the “early,” “middle,” and “late.”

You may choose any framework that will be important to understand that you seek to understand the customer experience from the moment a problem gets experienced first until it gets solved.

Having the right customer profile is important at this stage. It allows you to spot the right stages your customers can go through in place of relying on a generic framework.

You will have multiple team members in customer journey mapping and prototyping, which is a good practice. It allows you to understand the map’s general strokes, ensure that it matches your goals, and help you achieve the outcomes you want to achieve. And you do not even fill in the details.

You can extend prototyping to subsequent stages, define goals, and go for touchpoints to ensure that everyone on your team agrees.

Step 3: Attach Goals to Each Stage

Make sure that you can achieve reasonable customer goals and desires. At each stage of the customer journey,  Taking into account the customer profile plays a crucial role.

You need to collect information from:  

  • All parts of the customer journey.
  • User feedback.
  • Data analytics.

It will surely play a great role.

Several customer goals are forming a crucial aspect of a customer journey map. They will be like a lens to give you greater insight.


Always take into account the most important concerns to enhance awareness, consideration, decision, and loyalty. Do not feel afraid of delving deeper during data collection. The customer feedback will be valuable in giving you the right direction. Moreover, you require taking care of the various qualitative research methods to gauge customer behavior. For example, some of the top quality strategies you should consider: 

  • Leverage videos of users-interaction with your store
  • Listening to customer service recordings 
  • Connect with customers through email. 

They will help you to get an insight into the customers’ emotions and increase your reasoning. Do not assume the goals for just being rational. Always gauge the emotional experiences the customers look forward to when they choose to interact with your brand.

Digging deeper gives you greater and more valuable information about what is happening in the customers’ minds. It also gives you ideas on how your brand can become the voice of your customers.

 

Step 4: Always Identify Touchpoints for all the Stages

Outline the different touchpoints: Customers at all stages may like to interact with your brand in several ways.

Many times, retailers miss on making the most of this stage. It is useful to take into account all the possible touchpoints, apart from your website. It can be a major mistake to ignore the minor channel interactions. Moreover, this amounts to the formation of an incomplete customer journey map.

What are the various customer touchpoints?

The different customer touchpoints include:

  • Your website and apps.
  • Outbound marketing channels such as online ads, offline advertising and awareness campaigns.
  • Inbound marketing channels such as content, search engine results and utilizing social media posts.
  • Customer support.
  • Social media channels.Word-of-mouth and referrals.
  • Email.
  • Packaging and delivery.

You need to take care of the different touchpoints; it is also necessary to identify unique paths and specific sequences. There are several actions which your prospects must take care of as they click on a referral email in contrast to a Facebook ad.

It’s good to take into account all the touch points of a brand’s touchpoints at each stage of the customer journey.


Use the analytics data for identifying the common touchpoints. Google Analytics is a great tool for determining the prevalent parts of your site. Several reports can help you to check the way the prospective customers sway between the various touchpoints, such as 

Behaviour Flow 

Goal Flow

You need to understand the commonest flows.

Using the funnel visualization report will prove helpful to understand the different patterns of customer behavior.

In the end, remember and make use of the off-site and offline customer touchpoints. The offline customer interactions are crucial for the customer e-commerce experience for most retail customers.

Step 5: Identify Truthful Moments

Moments of truth are the ones where the customers will make a crucial decision. The most crucial truthful moment is the one where a prospect decides to purchase from you. So, how does it all go in your customer journey?

In e-commerce, the moments of truth count a lot. (Source)
In e-commerce, you will have at least one moment of truth related to every customer journey stage.

Here are some of the highly important moments of truth:

  • Discovery – The moments whereby a prospective customer decides to engage with your brand for the first time.
  • Purchase – is the term whereby a customer buys the item.
  • Experience – If a customer buys the right product and rates you, it will create the best overall impression of your brand and service.
  • Loyalty – If a customer wants to re-engage with your brand, they will become repeat buyers.

Moments of truth are a vital part of the customer journey map as they highlight the small window whereby the prospect just “integrates’ ‘ the various experiences till the time they decide to move forward to purchase with you.

When customers encounter great content and effectively designed and presented touchpoints at the critical moments of action, they feel encouraged to cross the line to move along the customer journey. You will offer them an adequate experience that keeps them from moving away and not returning.

Step 6: Identify Drop-Off Points and Goal Completion

Do the customers drop off and end their journey? Are they able to complete their goals successfully?The first step requires gauging the customer journey effectively to find out if it helps to achieve goals. You need to understand whether or not users can accomplish their goals simply and satisfactorily.

Why are barriers important for determining if the customers can achieve their goals?

A key point of concern is determining if the customers drop off without returning. Though it occurs commonly, retailers need to keep a check on high drop-off rates during checkout, and this is often due to a poorly-designed checkout form.

Google Analytics data will help to identify the dropoff areas. They can use this data in your customer journey map to achieve specific goals and address the pain-points. It will help you  identify the reasons why customers leave your site.

Step 7: Gathering Supplementary User Feedback

You need to keep updating the information and data you generate for customer feedback. Though, once you collect it for the first time, it may not seem necessary to do it again.

But additional feedback is immensely useful if you’ve started putting the customer journey together. In this process, you will understand the missing points of your original customer research.

Also, gather the customer feedback for various touchpoints where there are lacunae in the data. Subsequently, you need to incorporate the fixes into your customer map.

You will also be able to get the feedback on all which is falling short. Its necessary to identify the “blind spots’ ‘ which pinpoint the different areas where customer experience is lacking. It can be because you have been overlooking the same. It will help you adjust the feedback processes.

Step 8: Identify Areas for Improvement and “Amplification”

This is the step in the customer journey map whereby you create the right abstract document for forming a practical tool.

Highlight the most problematic areas on your map and prioritize them. Rank them accordingly so that you can make the improvements on the overall customer journey.

You must attach the KPIs to each stage of the customer journey so that you can find the most problematic areas for improving the various touchpoints needing attention.

The customer journey map can identify all the risks and opportunities.


You must get an insight into the conversion-centred metrics for understanding the general stages of the customer journey. It helps in the correlation of your buyer lifecycle and your customer map so that you can leverage all the information you have gathered.

Understand the moment where your customers experience great emotions. They take care of the various opportunities for forming the right customer relationship and coaxing them to make a purchase. Make sure that you create the content and CTAs which will help you to meet your needs to generate positive feelings.

Enhancing positive feelings is an important way to boost customer interaction and satisfaction. Make sure that you highlight the right touchpoints, for triggering positive emotions. This will help you find out how you can allocate the resources to manage and improve touchpoints.

Step 9: Compare Heuristics and Competitor Maps 

Find out the way the competitor’s customer journeys are related to yours? Neilsen’s heuristic frameworks are one of the important ones you can look forward to enhancing. Comparison with competitors is a great way to get ahead in competition.

The best customer journey mapping takes note of competitor stores activity and using the best competitor touchpoints.

Do not take to building highly-detailed documents. You require carrying out consistent mapping of your competitor’s customer journeys is the right way to stay on top of innovations and industry trends.

An insight into  the competitor maps offers you new ideas to improve your customer journey.

Here is an insight into Nielsen Heuristics to gain few ideas on how you can improve the customer journey.

Step 10: Develop and Test New Ideas

Customer journey maps are useful to 

New ideas

Touchpoints

And customer experiences. 

The customer journey will be an important document for the whole team. It should allow everyone to figure out new approaches.

The customer journey map helps your team to generate ideas, excellently. It ensures a seamless flow of options for split-testing. This kind of approach helps you get great suggestions for making improvements as you proceed.

Moreover, it is a good practice to learn what the best ideal customer journey will appear like when you see the customer journey map. You might need to create a distinct document for the same. The customer journey map will function as an important supplementary tool to measure the quality of your current customer experience at all stages and it offers you a measure of the goal you’re aspiring for.

The Best Customer Journey Mapping Tools

As the customer journey mapping tools can be obtained from diagram-creation apps, they can be quite inexpensive. You must be investing in one such app if you have not done it already.

Some of the best tools and apps helping to mark customer journey include:

Salesforce Journey Planner – Salesforce journey planner forms a part of the “Marketing Cloud” package. It includes various features that will help to create a useful customer journey map and change the different parts of the existing customer journey. It has several features which are directly meant to help the online retailers. It uses a powerful analytics functionality while integrating a range of various apps for offering customer experiences about your customer journey map. 

Smaply – Smaply is an easy-to-use tool that helps create comprehensible visual presentations of customer journey, buyer personas, and having  the stakeholder maps. It helps to monitor the stakeholders’ relationships and needs). It has several features to allow company wide collaboration for effective communication.

SuiteCX – SuiteCX offers several features alongside visualization and mapping tools. In most cases, business users’ suggestions to enhance the different parts of their existing customer journey, while using analytics integrations for a data-based approach. SuiteCX provides you to get regular training workshops and webinars.

cx/omni – cx/omni is teh appa allowing for the best customer experience management for including the different customer journey mapping tools. It’s a broad range of features allow for gathering feedback and generating analytics insights. It also allows for the monitoring of customer relations metrics and KPIs.

Touchpoint – This is an intuitive app which allows one to create customer journey map and analysis of the customer behavior. The app helps you to collaborate better and is the best solution for the retailers requiring a simple and scalable solution.

Templates and Examples for Your Customer Journey Map

So, how do you actually go about building your customer journey map which will help to take care of a set of unique touchpoints and business goals?

The customer journey map is an insightful document used by several people in an organization for designing the right customer experience. It helps one to take the right sales and marketing decisions.

Here are some of best templates present in the web:

All of the apps described in the previous section will also provide you with templates.

Conclusion

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when approaching customer journey mapping. Customer journey maps are complex documents that take time and research to build.

It’s essential, however, not to overlook this vital document. It will inform virtually all of your customer-related processes as an online retailer, with the power to improve and streamline your whole customer experience.

But there’s an important point to keep in mind.

Customer journey mapping is an evolving process. It provides for maps that need to be updated regularly – especially quarterly or monthly. And this helps you to get a successful and adaptable customer journey which you can infer in the whole process.

You can start now to work on some of the customer’s projects. Moreover, if you need help to do that, you can reach out to the team of experts at Visibility Gurus.