The Value of Customer Journey Mapping
In the retail industry today, it's easy to get the impression that the quest for omnichannel excellence is mainly both a new and huge technology initiative. While correct, it's important to remember there's something greater at play — the perennial challenge of understanding and influencing human behavior.
By 2017, e-commerce is expected to account for one in 10 retail purchases in the U.S. The increase in online spend is largely attributed to increasing online share of wallet — rather than new online shoppers. Online customers are moving from low-engagement, easy-consideration categories (e.g., small consumer electronics, music, etc.) to high-touch, high-consideration purchases (e.g., furniture and large household items).
Customers equipped with mobile devices are savvier about online research and are happier to mix and match the physical and online experience. Many are following more elaborate and nonlinear shopping journeys, especially as they make more thoughtful purchases.
It's estimated that 26 percent of in-store purchases involve research online. That figure is projected to increase to 60 percent by 2017. To succeed in today's marketplace, retailers must have a clear understanding of which segments of consumers shop, what are their specific parts of the journey and across which channels.
This omnichannel nonlinear purchase path creates more ways to delight and develop engagement in ways that result in increased sales, referrals and loyalty. The flip side is that more personalized journeys and higher customer expectations also create the opportunity to disappoint — losing this sale and the next.
In order to take advantage of this opportunity, retailers should take two critical actions:
- Develop a fuller understanding of the customer, ideally through customer journey mapping.
- Use that understanding to strengthen the infrastructure supporting the most important journeys, and by alleviating customer pain points.
Customer journey mapping is the plotting out, visually, of the specific steps a customer follows from the time they become aware of the need for a product or service through the phase of researching potential choices to the time they engage in the purchase transaction to the subsequent interaction after the purchase (i.e., delivery, installation, use, returns, etc.).