The New eCommerce Customer Journey

The New eCommerce Customer Journey

We’ve talked a lot at GrandCanals about how thoroughly transformative eCommerce is, in a lot of different ways. At a time when malls are becoming ghost towns, well-known brands enter bankruptcy or circle the drain, and “retail apocalypse” is used by the business press without hyperbole, eCommerce sales growth screams ahead.

Statista is projecting a nearly 250% increase in eCommerce retail sales from 2014 ($1.36 trillion) to 2021 ($4.48 trillion) and the Department of Commerce has recorded a 15.5% increase in retail eCommerce sales from the third quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of 2017 – nearly four times the growth in all retail sales over the same period. This phenomenal growth is the easiest change in the retail environment to measure, but another crucial, but more qualitative, change is the evolution of a new form of customer journey parallel to that of the traditional, brick and mortar retail experience.

Each stage of this new journey presents merchants with opportunities to either delight or disgust their customers. How a company responds to these opportunities can have a direct impact on sales: increasing or decreasing them in response to the customer experience being provided. We’ve written about this aspect of the new eCommerce customer journey and will have even more to say about it soon. But for now, let’s just talk a little bit about the journey more generally.

Here’s how we think of the new eCommerce customer journey and how it parallels that of traditional retail:


You can see how each stage of the old brick and mortar customer journey has an eCommerce parallel. The showroom has been replaced by the website, the product page must serve the function of the sales associate, and so on. Each stage of the journey must provide the customer with the means and motivation to keep progressing toward a purchase. While the functions of each parallel stage are similar, the eCommerce journey must also take into account the need to bridge the gap between the virtual nature of the first three stages and the presence of the customer in the physical world.

Leaving that bridge until the fourth step, Shipping and Delivery, with no consideration of fulfillment issues before then is a recipe for disappointment, if not disaster. We talk about why, strictly from the perspective of shopping cart conversions, in the article mentioned above. But we’ll go into greater — and broader — detail over the next few weeks in a series of blogs focusing on each stage. Stay tuned!