The e-commerce market is growing at an unprecedented rate. With so many platforms popping up every day, staying ahead of the competition is getting harder and harder. So how do you keep up in such a rapid and competitive environment?
Among all the variables of all the success formulas out there, there’s only one constant — an unmatched customer experience. This is the ingredient that unlike anything else, cannot be copied. And there’s one framework that is really good at helping you with stepping up your customer experience game — e-commerce customer journey mapping.
Customer journey mapping (CJM) is a visualization of all the interactions happening between customers and your product at all of the stages of their engagement with it.
Here is what a complete customer journey map may look like:
You can use this technique to understand how your business performs from your customers’ standpoint as it allows you to put together all the data and order it in a clear and comprehensive way.
Here are some of the things you can do with the help of customer journey maps in e-commerce:
- Capture all the touchpoints and channels customers go through when visiting your e-commerce website. And what’s most important, understand what happens during those interactions;
- Understand how customers feel at every stage of their journey and what you can improve so they get less frustrated and more happy with your service;
- Indicate the pain-points of the journey and brainstorm solutions;
- Discover moments of truth for your customer.
But now that we’ve covered the basics, where do you start?
The prep-work before the actual e-commerce journey mapping
To take the most out of your customer journey mapping process, you will need to make some preparations beforehand. Make sure you’ve got all of the following things covered before starting out with journey mapping.
Set the goal
Start off with setting clear and achievable goals before getting down to the mapping. Here are some examples of the goals you might want to target for your e-commerce project:
- increasing conversion and overall sales of the online store;
- discovering pain points and problems in a given scope of the journey;
- brainstorming the solutions for discovered problems;
- reduce the number of refunds;
- increase the number of reviews.
You can pick one or a combination of them. The bottom line here is you need a goal so it both helps you track progress and also define the scope of the area you want to map.
Define the scope
Set the scope of the journey. Covering the entire customer journey in e-commerce will take too much time and effort and most likely won't be feasible to complete in a single sitting.
Instead, you can either start off with the most problematic part that needs immediate attention or focus on the part of the journey you already know too well. This way you will be able to start mapping without investing in additional research.
You can start by mapping one of the crucial elements of an e-commerce website — its checkout page. Although it’s not the first thing that customers face when purchasing online, according to the statistics, around 70% of products that were added to cart eventually get abandoned. This is a powerful argument for taking checkout pages more seriously and analyzing the ways to improve the customer experience at that particular stage of their journey.
If you think that mapping your website page by page is enough, then think again. You need to map a customer journey with your customer in mind. That’s where personas come into play.
Speaking scientifically(ish), a persona is a collective image of a particular group of your customers that represents their behavioral patterns, goals, expectations, and frustrations.
Creating a journey map without knowing exactly who your customer is is like creating a map for everyone and no one at the same time.
When mapping journeys for your online store you will find that some personas are more tech-savvy and some are less. They will also have different goals, expectations, and experience from your website and so their customer journeys will also differ. You should take all of that into account before mapping the journey of a particular customer segment.
Take a look at this persona example created for e-commerce in our persona building tool:
Collect the data
Research is an essential step before analyzing the customer journey of an online store. Adding real-world data brings tangibility to your journey maps and helps you identify the most problematic stages of the journey. For instance, you will need to know how many visitors made it to the checkout page, how many of those eventually completed the purchase, and what is the percentage of those who dropped out. If you have a multi-page checkout, it would be useful to know which pages cause your visitors to abandon their cart.
Web analytics is a great source of data. And by the way, you can combine that data with journey maps using our customer journey mapping tool. It supports the integration with Mixpanel which will let you display real-time analytics data on your e-commerce customer journey maps in the form of a marketing funnel. That way you will have some hard data to back up your journey maps.
Here are other data sources that can be used to learn about your customer journey before putting it on the map.
- HotJar uses interactive heatmaps of customer clicks and actions to help you visualize how they engage with particular pages of the online store and where they need help.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS) ranges from 0 to 10 and shows the willingness of your customer to recommend your product to others. This provides a simplified, yet highly effective vision of a brand’s popularity and customer loyalty.
- Teammates that can share knowledge about the actual customer journey and its particular stages. For example, if you have decided to focus on improving the delivery stage, it would be reasonable to invite the stakeholders from the delivery department, starting from the head of the department to couriers who deal face-to-face with your customers.
Create an e-commerce customer journey map
Okay, time to get down to actual mapping. At this point, you will need to draft the backbone of the journey map, specifically the stages a customer goes through while interacting with your online store.
Draft the backbone
Let’s continue with our delivery example and try to identify the substages of the delivery stage:
- Requesting the delivery. At this substage, customers complete the purchase and type in their delivery information. Usually, it is done at the checkout page, so it may be considered as a major touchpoint to pay attention to at this substage.
- Confirmation call or email. Possible touchpoints of the substage: confirmation email template, customer service agent.
- Waiting for the delivery. This might be the most irritating part of the delivery stage for customers, so it’s a good idea to keep them updated on the delivery information while the item is on its way. Touchpoints remain the same as at the previous substage.
- Receiving the items. On the contrary, this is the most joyful moment of the whole shopping process, so take your time to think about making it even more memorable. Touchpoints: courier, package.
- Signing the docs. Although this formality is kind of irrelevant for a customer at this point, make sure not to make it too complicated. Touchpoints: courier, delivery documentation.
Here is what the backbone of the e-commerce customer journey map will look like:
The same way you can divide the Purchasing process into “Review cart”, “Checkout”, “Payment”, etc. and analyze them in your CJM.
Add some meat
Let’s take a brief look at other steps of creating a journey map.
- Customer goals and expectations. Adding customer goals and expectations will let everyone see what your customers pursue at each stage and how it aligns with the goals of your company. At the Search stage, this could be “finding the necessary product with minimum effort”, at the Waiting for the delivery substage this is definitely “getting the product ASAP”, etc.
- Touchpoints. Identify the encounters that happen between your business and customers at each stage: the homepage of the website, the checkout page, customer service agent, package, etc. This will help you identify the ones that need improvement and get rid of those that lead your customers straight to your competitors.
- Processes & Channels. See what channels your persona uses and what processes look like during their journey. Here are some examples: website, social media, phone, email, etc. Make sure that the experience you deliver is equal across all the channels.
- Problems & Ideas. Find the pain points that the customer encounters while making a purchase on your site. It can be slow page loading speed, incomprehensible site structure, low-resolution images, confusing checkout page, long time of delivery, lack of support from the help center, etc. After that, brainstorm for some ideas on how these problems can be solved.
- Moments of truth. Moments of truth are the moments where a customer either stays with you or leaves forever. For an e-commerce website, this is generally its overall site structure and design, the checkout page, and the help center. It’s worth paying some extra attention to such moments and make sure everything about them is as customer-friendly as it can be.
And that’s what you will see after you map out all these points and add some visual touch to your journey map:
What to do next
Creating a CJM is a good chunk of work, but it doesn't end there. Maximize its value by articulating a clear plan for the implementation of ideas and pass it on to the responsible individuals. And it's so much easier with UXPressia as it provides an opportunity to collaborate with all of the teammates simultaneously and has exporting and sharing capabilities. In addition to that, we have created special e-commerce CJM templates that already include some general stages and touchpoints.