Customer journeys are the lifeblood of retail. Understanding the unique steps customers take from discovery to purchase is crucial.

In this article, we delve into the intricacies of retail customer journey mapping and its significance in today's rapidly evolving marketplace.

Let's embark on this enlightening voyage.

What Is A Retail Customer Journey Map?

A retail customer journey map is a visual story of your customers' interactions with your brand. It's a depiction of the path customers take from initial contact through to a long-term relationship.

It's a vital tool for understanding customer experience. By capturing all touchpoints and phases in the buying process, it enables businesses to identify opportunities and pain points.

The journey begins when a customer first becomes aware of your brand. This could be through advertising, word of mouth, or a search engine result.

The journey then continues as they gather information, make a decision to buy, and finally make a purchase.

After the purchase, the journey doesn't stop. How does the customer feel after buying? What's their experience with your after-sales service? These questions form the final parts of the journey map.

By mapping the retail customer journey, brands can empathize better with their customers. It highlights where the customer's experience is smooth and where it's not.

This insight drives improvements in the overall shopping experience.

So, a retail customer journey map is more than a diagram. It's a catalyst for creating a better, more customer-centric business.

5 Phases Of The In-Store Customer Journey

Customers navigate various stages when interacting with a retail store.

Understanding these distinct phases is key to improving their shopping experience.

Let's delve into the five crucial stages of the in-store customer journey: Pre-visit, Entrance, Exploration, Purchase, and Post-Purchase.

Pre-visit Phase

The Pre-visit phase marks the beginning of the customer journey. It's when customers become aware of your brand and what it offers.

This could occur through online research, advertisements, or word-of-mouth recommendations.

During this phase, potential customers form their initial impressions of your brand.

They might visit your website or social media pages, read online reviews, or browse through your online catalog.

In essence, they're gathering information to decide whether your store meets their needs. This phase sets the tone for the customer's future interactions with your brand.

Ensuring a positive pre-visit experience is key to attracting potential customers to your physical store.

Also Read: Customer Journey Optimization

Entrance Phase

The Entrance phase begins when customers step into your physical store.

First impressions matter immensely, and this stage sets the tone for the entire shopping experience.

Here, customers form opinions about your store's ambiance, cleanliness, layout, and staff availability.

Factors like lighting, music, and in-store marketing materials can influence their overall perception.

Customers also start to gauge the level of customer service. They notice if staff members are welcoming and ready to assist.

They may also look for clear signage to guide their shopping journey.

The goal during the Entrance phase is to create a positive, inviting atmosphere. It's about making customers feel comfortable and eager to explore what you have to offer.

Exploration Phase

The Exploration phase is the heart of the in-store shopping experience. This is where customers dive into your product offerings and evaluate their options.

During this phase, customers browse through your store, interact with products, and compare different items.

The organization of your merchandise, the quality of the product displays, and the ease of finding desired items all play crucial roles.

In-store staff can greatly influence this stage. Their product knowledge, helpfulness, and ability to cater to customer needs can enhance the shopping experience.

The goal here is to provide a seamless and enjoyable exploration experience.

When customers feel well-served and find what they're looking for easily, they're more likely to make a purchase.

Also Read: Customer Journey Metrics

Purchase Phase

The Purchase phase is the pivotal moment when a customer decides to buy.

This stage revolves around the checkout process and the final steps that lead to a successful transaction.

Here, customers evaluate their chosen products one last time before making the final decision. They consider factors like price, quality, and perceived value.

The ease of the checkout process also plays a significant role.

At this point, friendly and efficient customer service can make a substantial difference.

Quick checkout lines, multiple payment options, and proactive assistance can help seal the deal.

The goal in the Purchase phase is to make the transaction as smooth as possible. Any hiccups at this stage could deter a customer from completing their purchase.

Post-Purchase Phase

The Post-Purchase phase happens after customers have made their purchase and left your store.

It's about fostering a long-term relationship with them, ensuring they're satisfied, and encouraging them to return.

This phase includes elements like customer service support, return or exchange policies, and feedback collection.

Your engagement with the customer during this time can greatly affect their overall perception of your brand.

Remember, a positive post-purchase experience can turn one-time shoppers into loyal customers.

It can also lead to positive word-of-mouth marketing, boosting your brand's reputation.

The goal here is to leave a lasting impression, ensuring that the customer feels valued and appreciated.

It's about turning a single transaction into an ongoing relationship.

How To Build A Retail Customer Journey Map

Creating a retail customer journey map is a strategic process. It involves data collection, identifying touchpoints, and ongoing revisions.

In the following section, we'll guide you through a step-by-step process to create your own customer journey map, helping you to better understand and enhance your customer's experience.

Also Read: Customer Analytics

Set A Goal

Creating a retail customer journey map begins with setting a clear goal.

Your goal could be improving customer service, reducing churn rate, increasing customer loyalty, or optimizing in-store experiences.

Decide what part of the customer journey you want to focus on. Are you interested in the entire journey, or do you want to concentrate on specific touchpoints or stages?

You could also tailor the map to a particular customer persona or demographic group.

This initial goal-setting step provides direction for your journey mapping project. It guides the kind of data you'll collect and the insights you're hoping to gain.

A clear goal ensures your map is focused and relevant. It steers the development of strategies to improve your customer's experience in line with your business objectives.

Remember, a well-defined goal is the foundation of a successful customer journey map.

Keep Tracking & Analytics Tools Ready

With your goal set, the next step is to prepare your tracking and analytics tools.

These are vital for gathering data about your customers and their interactions with your brand.

Your tracking tools could include a website analytics tool like Google Analytics, which provides insights into how customers interact with your online platforms.

Heat mapping tools can also be beneficial for understanding on-page customer behavior.

In-store, consider using tools like customer feedback surveys, mystery shopping, and point-of-sale data analysis.

Technologies like Wi-Fi analytics or people counting cameras can also provide data about in-store customer behavior.

These tools help you gather quantitative data, such as how many people visited your store or website, what they purchased, and how much time they spent.

Having your tracking and analytics tools ready ensures you have reliable data to build your customer journey map.

Collect Data

Once your tools are set up, it's time to collect data. Your goal here is to gather as much information as possible about your customers and their shopping behavior.

Start by gathering demographic data. Who are your customers? What are their ages, genders, locations, and income levels?

This information can help you understand who you're serving and what they might expect from your brand.

Next, collect behavioral data. What are customers buying? When are they visiting your store or website? How much time are they spending? This can reveal patterns in shopping behavior.

Don't forget about attitudinal data. How do customers feel about your brand?

You can gather this information through surveys, feedback forms, or social media sentiment analysis.

The more comprehensive your data collection, the more detailed and accurate your customer journey map will be.

Understanding your customer's behaviors, attitudes, and demographics is key to crafting an effective map.

Identify All The Possible Touchpoints

After collecting data, the next step is to identify all the possible touchpoints.

Touchpoints are the various ways customers interact with your brand, from initial discovery to post-purchase.

These might include your website, social media platforms, email newsletters, in-store interactions, customer service, and even word-of-mouth referrals.

Remember to consider both online and offline touchpoints.

Examine each touchpoint from your customer's perspective. What are they experiencing at each stage? Are there any obstacles or frustrations they encounter? What moments delight them?

Mapping out these touchpoints gives you a comprehensive view of your customer's journey.

It highlights areas where you're providing excellent service and where you might be falling short.

Identifying all possible touchpoints is crucial to building an accurate customer journey map.

It's the step that brings your map to life, illuminating the path your customers follow when interacting with your brand.

Plan The Journey Map

With your data and touchpoints identified, it's time to plan your journey map.

This visual representation of your customer's experience will help you see their path through their eyes.

Start by plotting out the stages of the customer journey we discussed earlier: pre-visit, entrance, exploration, purchase, and post-purchase.

Then, populate each stage with the relevant touchpoints.

Use the data you collected to depict what happens at each touchpoint. Highlight areas of customer friction and delight. Include customer thoughts, feelings, and expectations.

Your map could be a simple flowchart, a storyboard, or an intricate infographic. Choose a format that suits your needs and preferences.

Remember, the purpose is to facilitate understanding of your customer's experience.

Creating a journey map is like piecing together a puzzle. Each touchpoint, each piece of data, adds to the overall picture of your customer's journey with your brand.

Take Feedback & Revise The Map

Once your customer journey map is drafted, it's essential to seek feedback and be ready for revisions.

Your map should be a living document, continually updated as you gain new insights and as your customers' behaviors evolve.

Share the map with your team, especially those who interact directly with customers. Their frontline experience can offer valuable insights.

Are there touchpoints they feel have been overlooked? Do they have suggestions for improving customer experiences at specific stages?

Next, seek feedback from your customers. Use surveys or interviews to understand if your map aligns with their actual experiences.

They are the ultimate source of truth about the customer journey.

Finally, use the feedback to revise your map. Make necessary adjustments to reflect the most accurate customer journey.

Remember, creating a customer journey map is an ongoing process, not a one-time task. Regular revisions ensure your map stays relevant and valuable.

The Best Examples Of Retail Customer Journey Maps


Zara's customer journey starts with creating a buzz around its fast-fashion model.

Through social media platforms and window displays, Zara attracts customers with their fresh, trendsetting styles.

Once in-store, customers are greeted by well-organized, frequently updated merchandise that encourages exploration.

The purchase phase is expedited by helpful staff, clear price tags, and multiple payment options.

After purchase, Zara keeps customers engaged through email newsletters, featuring new collections and fashion tips.

The seamless integration of online and offline channels enhances Zara's customer journey.

2. Starbucks

The Starbucks journey begins with its strong brand presence and enticing aroma. The entrance phase is about welcoming customers into a comfortable, cozy space.

During the exploration phase, customers choose from a wide range of beverages and food items, with staff readily available to assist.

The purchase phase includes an easy, efficient payment process and the Starbucks rewards program.

Post-purchase, Starbucks engages customers through the mobile app, offering personalized deals and rewards for loyal customers.


IKEA's journey starts with its catalog and website showcasing stylish, affordable furniture.

In-store, customers enter a well-planned route displaying various room setups, sparking inspiration.

During the exploration phase, customers interact with the products in home-like settings.

At the purchase phase, customers are guided to the warehouse to pick up flat-packed products, with staff available for assistance.

Post-purchase, IKEA provides detailed assembly instructions and customer service for any issues, reinforcing IKEA’s commitment to customer satisfaction.

Understanding the retail customer journey is paramount in today's competitive marketplace.

By mapping this journey, brands can uncover key insights to improve customer experiences and drive loyalty.

It's an ongoing process that requires continuous tracking, analysis, and improvement. Start your journey mapping today and unlock a new level of customer-centric success.