Creating A Customer Journey Map: Best Practices For Retail Brands

We all understand the importance of knowing what’s going on in our customers’ minds and mapping out their interactions with our brand before, during, and after the sale. But where are we making erroneous assumptions that don’t align with our customer’s reality? Are our plans to deliver a great customer experience on pace with our customers’ rising expectations?
Your customer journey map describes your customer’s journey from the moment that your brand enters their awareness through the in-store process and post sale. Creating a customer journey map gives yous a high-level overview of all of the touchpoints between our brand and the customer. You can use this information to inform your marketing campaigns and customer experience decisions. Additionally, customer journey maps are increasingly being incorporated into omnichannel initiatives in efforts to ensure that your customers’ experience is consistent across all channels.

Customer journey maps are invaluable to our marketing and customer experience efforts, but only to the extent that they are informed by a perfect understanding of our customers, which is never the case. Too often, our attempts to understand our customers fail to capture their true frustrations. Where are we making assumptions that don’t align with our customers’ reality? We have a lot of data about our customers’ experience, but how are we putting insights into action?

These are the hard questions we are required to answer and act on if we want to win in today’s disruptive industry.

Retail is relatively stable over the short-term: Stores and the majority of customers aren’t going to disappear in the next 12-18 months. The National Retail Federation even expects a rise of 4.1% up from last year’s 3.5% growth . Over time, however, it will become apparent which brands and which retailers decided to tackle the hard questions.

To understand how we can drive brand innovation through the adoption of up-to-date best practices, let’s investigate the process of modern customer experience design, starting with the customer journey map.

David’s Doors: Customer Journey Map

David’s Doors is a 500-store (fictional) retailer that sells doors to commercial, residential, and contractors. Their typical customers are building owners and contractors. They sell doors in stores and BOPIS (buy online, pick-up in store). They also sell hardware for doors and door installation services. Their average store’s daily revenue is $5,000. Concerned with stagnating sales, they’ve recently commissioned an internal project team to create a customer experience report. As part of this report, the project team generated a customer journey map.



The customer journey map details the customer’s experience beginning with their brand awareness, through the purchase process, and post-sale. During the discovery process, the project team generated a list of key questions regarding the current customer’s experience. As a result of these inquiries, the project team generated a list of recommendations for best practices moving forward, based on the project team’s research into innovators within the industry and industry leaders.

Best Practices for Retail Brands

From a marketing and customer experience perspective, the shift that is occurring in best practices for retail is best described as a sliding scale between driving procedural efficiency and driving customer acquisition and retention. In the traditional retail paradigm, marketing and customer experience campaigns are implemented on a region-by-region and store-by-store basis, based on segmented lists and past data.

In the new retail paradigm, marketing and customer experience are implemented on a customer-to-customer basis and are based on individual customer’s data. Modern marketing is agile and testing is done on shorter cycles with immediate feedback. Highly targeted messages are delivered to individual customers based on their personal data history and through their preferred mode of communication. Modern customer experience delivers highly personalized experiences and gives the customer the power to define their shopping experience.

With online retail trying to outpace brick-and-mortar, and customers’ increasing expectation to define their personal shopping experience, brick-and-mortar retailers face increasing pressure to elevate their brand equity and become and remain their target market’s preferred retailer. The challenge large retailers face is how they can implement this data and the data from their customer maps at scale while also planning to meet their customers’ future needs.

To tackle this challenge, your implementation must be tested thoroughly. The best ways to test your implementation are through customer surveys and mystery shopping programs. Together, they deliver the required data needed to identify problems and ensure that you have captured the customer journey map as your customer experiences it.