Mapping the Retail Customer’s Journey

Portrait of a stylish young man shopping in the city retail customer journey mapping

For retail customers, their experience takes the shape of a journey toward brand loyalty. Each step of that journey signals a decision for the customer—a touchpoint. Over time a map of their journey will form.

The Map as a Tool

As a strategic management tool, the map will pinpoint each touchpoint, where they first encountered your brand and how they made the journey to your store. Did they purchase something? At what stage did they turn away? The map gets more granular when you dig deeper into the touchpoints and see what’s influencing their decision.

This map gives you a visual picture of what influences your customers at each point of the purchase process. Through their interactions with your services, you can see how their expectations are met. And, during the mapping process, you will learn how to improve each touchpoint in order to exceed their expectations.

Anatomy of the Map

The timeline of a customer journey map can be separated into three periods:

1. Pre-Sale

Touchpoints usually associated with marketing efforts prior to a commitment with the brand. These are often advertising impressions and word-of-mouth campaigns.

2. Purchase

This period is when the customer physically commits to go to the store and purchases something.

3. Post-Sale

Includes everything that takes place after the sale, such as returns and social media recommendations.

Although this timeline can get complicated, it doesn’t need to be. Just focus on the touchpoints to create a broad picture, then you can add more information as you get it.

Marketing, HR, operations, and IT work together to meet the needs of each customer. Each area of your business contributes to service excellence and need to contribute to this process.

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Gathering Data

The bulk of your research data comes from marketing, primarily for the pre-sale and post-sale periods. In the middle, sales and operations provide the most touchpoints with customers purchasing from you.

Gathering data is a strategic process. Not every touchpoint is experienced by every customer. Of the touchpoints that you do find, customers may experience only half of them. Customer surveys can complement marketing data to get a more clear understanding of why this happens. Point of sale reports add to the mix, letting you know more about who they are and what they purchased.

Major and Minor Touchpoints

Each touchpoint is important, but the critical ones are based on higher frequency of occurrences and levels of interaction. These are major touchpoints that indicate where customer purchasing decisions were made and what influenced them. You can dig deeper into each one and learn more about what exactly influenced customer purchases and why.

Minor touchpoints are low-frequency encounters with the brand, holding little influence over buying decisions. These hold little information that can be useful to you, so they can be discarded because an all-inclusive map becomes too complex to follow.

Opportunities for Improvements

During this process, you will discover areas that have more opportunities than others, such as making your pre-sale brand more visible or faster checkout times during purchasing. Focusing on the key areas of concern will make this process easier to manage and geared for success.

Once you have your map in place, you’ll be able to innovate and grow your sales. Stay away from making it too complex, because it can lead to delays—or worse—incompletion.

Your map defines what your customers do and how you influence them, so quickly implement the initiatives that matter to make their journey one that they will repeat over-and-over again.

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2019-10-23T23:17:45+00:00