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Grab a pizza this e-Commerce customer journey

Sydney Pineapple Pizza Company mock up company image - says Bondi Beach, has two pineapple icons, a large pizza slice in the background and superimposed on image of a turquoise sea.

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Why read this? : We share how to create and use an e-Commerce customer journey map. Learn how to identify needs, pain points and touchpoints with our pizza delivery case study. Read this to go on an e-Commerce customer journey. 

There’s lots to think about in e-Commerce. For a start, there’s building your online store strategy. That means finding insights and deciding on your competitive strategy and positioning. (See our D2C experience article for more on this). 

There are also lots of activation areas. Digital media. Setting up your store website. Running your CRM and customer service programs. Not to mention all the back-end order-to delivery systems.

So, you need tools to help you organise your thinking and plan the work.

D2C Online Store Status dashboard - Four column headed strategy and plan, the store, order to delivery and operations

You can use broad tools like the D2C status dashboard from our setting up an online store guide. Or as we’ll focus on this week, more specific tools like the customer journey map from customer experience planning.

Customer Journey Map

The customer journey map outlines the stages customers go through. From being unaware of your brand to becoming loyal customers. 

It’s a customer-led version of the brand choice funnel. Rather than brand-led objectives like awareness, consideration and trial, it puts customer needs and pain points front and centre. Plus, it helps you plan touchpoints. Those are where, when and how you interact with customers.

This helps you avoid over-thinking the brand and under-thinking the customer.

Customer Experience Journey Map

Customers don’t need awareness, consideration and trial. They need what your brand can do for them. Your brand has to meet their needs and fix their pain points using relevant touchpoints. You add details from each of these areas as you work through each stage of the customer’s journey.


Meeting customer needs is vital in marketing (and e-Commerce). But it’s easy to get distracted by what the brand needs and overlook what the customer needs. The model stops you from doing that.

Remember, customers don’t need your advert, your social post, or your website. They need solutions to their problems. Answers to their questions. 

Informative or entertaining content, for example. And for e-Commerce, a way to research products and manage orders.

Woman standing in a poorly lit street at night. She is blowing into her hands which holds a light and some sort of illuminated confetti

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

One common tool used in needs analysis is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It dates back to the 1940s. Opinions are mixed on how useful it is. 

On the plus side, the tool is well-known and helps you identify 8 different groups of needs. From low-level survival needs such as food, air and water, up to more personal growth-driven needs like self-actualisation.

However, many argue it doesn’t give a realistic view of how people’s needs work. For example, there’s no evidence customer needs start at the lowest level and then work up. Plus, you can have multiple needs happening at the same time, and higher-level needs overruling lower-level needs. For example, monks who fast while meditating. People who plunge into ice baths to improve their endurance and resilience.

Plus, the model itself was only ever a theory. It’s never been proven. And, it was only based on interviews with successful and healthy people. So, it’s got a biased view which ignores a wider range of personality and lifestyle types. 

What would the customer say?

Maslow’s hierarchy is helpful as a prompt to think about needs. But don’t rely on it as evidence of customer needs. 

For that, you need market research. You have to ask customers what they need at each stage. 

Your e-Commerce customer journey map is stronger when based on what customers say they need. Use their exact words if you can. 

For example, you might think the need you’re solving is to help people feel more confident.

Two people holding up large ears on a small dog

But many things can do this. Customers are usually more specific. They’ll say something like “I need to feel more confident about meeting new people”. That focuses what you need to do to meet their need.

This is key as each stage usually has specific and different needs. The need for information. The need for a service. It’s easier to work out how to meet specific needs versus more general ones.

Pain points

Pain points are usually the problem which triggers the need. Hunger is a pain point which drives the need to eat, for example. 

You include these on the e-Commerce customer journey map because they help explain what’s causing the problem.

Knowing the cause helps you generate better ideas on how to fix it.

These pain points can be relatively minor.

Close up image of a man in a suit wiping away a tear and looking sad

For example, for our pizza deliveries, customers might say, I need to find the right information on your product page. 

But in some cases, they can be major issues. For example, medicine from an online pharmacy e.g. if this product doesn’t arrive in time, my life could be at risk. That would literally be a major pain point.

Online touchpoints

“Touchpoint” is a marketing jargon word which covers any interaction between the customer and the brand. It’s where, when and how they “touch” each other.

Most customer journey maps (including this e-Commerce one) identify online and offline touchpoints separately.

This makes them easier to organise. Digital marketing activities naturally sit together. And similarly, traditional marketing activities also naturally sit together. 

overhead shot of many laptops and other pieces of technology on a table

As you fill in the journey map, you identify touchpoints relevant to each need / pain point. These may be broad (e.g. digital media), or very specific (e.g. copy on your product page). 

Offline touchpoints

Offline touchpoints are usually activities you can physically touch. 

For example, outdoor and print advertising. Posters and leaflets. Specific real-life interactions you have with a customer which don’t happen online. 

Again, specific and short is key.

You note which ones you’ll use at each stage. Then you look at how the touchpoints need to work together across the whole journey.

Blank Billboard seen from the ground against a clear cloudy sky

E-Commerce Customer Journey - case study set-up

So let’s now introduce the e-Commerce business whose customer journey we’re going to map. 

It’s called the Sydney Pineapple Pizza Company, a pizza delivery business in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.

We chose pizza delivery as it’s a relatively easy business model to get your head around. (We’ve also used it in other articles such as on market attractiveness and 6 Hats creative thinking).

Plus, it’s also a category where finding your competitive advantage is key. Most businesses will go after the same target audience. 

Sydney Pineapple Pizza Company mock up company image - says Bondi Beach, has two pineapple icons, a large pizza slice in the background and superimposed on image of a turquoise sea.

Pizza delivery is a relatively low involvement / low informational need purchase. (see our Rossiter and Percy grid article for more on these terms). Customer decisions and actions at each stage are likely to be fast and not take much thought.

However, when doing an e-Commerce customer journey map, it’s usually worth imagining it’s the journey of your fussiest customer. The one with the most questions. That way you capture every possible need, pain point and touchpoint. You can always cut or merge areas later. That’s better than starting too high level and missing an important customer insight.

E-Commerce customer journey - getting started

To set the scene, imagine we’ve just started as the manager and we’ve run a workshop. We brainstormed ideas about the customer journey. Those came from different sources. Insights from our market research. Customer feedback. We also used what we know from areas like behavioural science and design psychology

From that, we can assume :-

  • it’s a new business so awareness is low. 
  • our target audience are pizza lovers who live in the neighbourhood we deliver to.
  • our target audience regularly uses search, social and websites.
Customer journey map example - shows 7 steps of journey from Spark my Interest to Motivate me to share, with examples of needs/pain points and touchpoints for Sydney Pineapple Pizza company

Let’s look at how we’d map these ideas i.e. needs, pain points, online and offline touchpoints to the relevant areas of the customer journey.

E-Commerce customer journey - Spark my interest

The first job in the e-Commerce customer journey is to spark their interest.

We want to grab the customer’s attention. If they don’t know who we are, they can’t buy from us. 

There are 2 objectives here.

First is to reach them. To get our name and message in front of interested customers. And then, for that message to be persuasive enough for them to want to find out more.

Young boy in a yellow jersey showing loudly into a microphone

The customer need here is simple. We want to reach them when they’re hungry and most likely to order takeaway food. As you can see, we’ve broken down this need into 3 parts. To eat. To eat now. And to eat tasty food. Hungry is the key pain point. But we’ve also added that they’re too lazy (or tired) to cook. And they haven’t been food shopping so can’t cook dinner themselves.

Media driven

In this case, reach will be driven by media, led by digital media. Banner adverts and boosted social media posts. Digital leads as we can use it to target the right customer groups. We can control who sees the adverts and when and where they see them. Digital also means we can include a direct call to action link to the website

We’d also look at how we use PR to get mentions of our business in relevant online publications. Local listing sites and food / entertainment related sites, for example. 

Plus, we’d also use more traditional media channels to raise awareness. Flyers and brochures dropped into letterboxes, for example. And making sure the signage on the store and delivery vans also grabbed attention.

Advertising message

We’d develop an advertising message based on our positioning. It would highlight our benefit and point of difference. We’d test these with market research, and use this to brief an agency to create the adverts. 

The objective would be to make customers want to find out more. 

E-Commerce customer journey - Find out more

Having sparked the customer’s initial interest, we now need to fuel the flames of their desire. 

This stage is about answering questions from interested customers. You listen to their questions and make the answers easy to find. It’s usually about telling them who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.

Search usually leads this stage. It’s how customers find out more about most things. In this case, that’d mean paid and organic search.

Google hmne page on a Samsung phone lores

We’d focus on keywords which make ordering our pizzas sound easy and enticing. We’d also highlight the website on our offline touchpoints. However, we’d also include other contact methods (e.g. a phone number) as some customers prefer direct contact.

We’d also research what questions customers are most likely to have about our offer. For this case study, we’ve assumed their key questions are :-

  • is it food I’ll like?
  • will they deliver to my address?
  • is it affordable?

These questions shape our landing page content. We’d lead with our competitive advantage so customers know why they should choose us over other food delivery options. Then, we’d make sure we used images and copy to make our products look and sound appealing. And we’d make sure answers to questions like delivery coverage and delivery cost were easy to find. 

E-Commerce customer journey - Persuade me

When customers reach the next stage of the e-Commerce customer journey, they’re almost but not quite at the point of buying.

The goal here is to nudge those who have doubts over the line. 

Often, some sort of price discount or sales promotion might be enough.

But there are other subtler, longer-lasting ways to persuade customers to buy. For example, many businesses use social proof to do this.

Close up of a hand with thumb up

This is when you show that other customers have tried and enjoyed the product. You highlight positive reviews and testimonials. These reassure new customers. If others have tried it and rated it positively, there’s less risk in buying. (See Robert Cialdini’s Influence for more on social proof).

Another commonly used persuasion tool is scarcity.

Scarcity works on the principle that the less available a product is, the more we want it. We fear missing out on the chance to buy it. It’s what drives limited-time offers and online exclusives, for example. For our pizza shop, we’d create a compelling offer for new customers.

Get a 20% discount on your first order, until the end of the month, for example. That “end of the month” tells them they’ll miss out if they don’t order in time. This can be hard to resist. (See our advanced e-Commerce techniques article for more on scarcity). 

For customers who hadn’t yet made it to the website, we’d deliver those same social proof and scarcity messages using posts and paid ads on social media. We could encourage customers to rate and recommend us. For example, we could give them money off their next order for leaving a review. 

E-Commerce customer journey - Make it easy to buy

Up to this stage of the e-Commerce customer journey, the focus is on creating experiences which influence customers to choose you.

But once they’ve made that decision, the focus changes to removing barriers to purchase. The buying process needs to be easy. The customer’s need here is a quick and hassle-free purchase.

They accept they need to give a minimum amount of information to make the order happen. But they don’t want to do any more than that.

Person holding a mobile phone with an e-Commerce page on screen and a credit card in the other hand

That minimum information usually covers :-

  • what they want to buy.
  • the delivery details.
  • their contact and payment details. 

You make it easy to find products on your store website. For example, well-written category labels and good on-site SEO. Easy to navigate product pages, and an obvious add to cart call to action. If customers need to customise an order (e.g. choosing the size of the pizza, and adding or removing ingredients), you make it easy to do so.

You make entering delivery, contact and payment details as easy as you can.

For example, you can ask them to save their details so they’re auto-filled on future orders. You make your payment system security very clear and your payment options very flexible.

If delivery time is important (as it is with pizza delivery), you include updates on that as part of the overall experience. 

Food delivery cyclist on busy nighttime street

For example, what time it’s expected to arrive. How the customer can track the delivery. How they can contact the driver if it’s late. These help reassure the customer. 

E-Commerce customer journey - Reassure me

The customer’s need changes to being kept informed once they’ve placed an order.

So you set up a notification system (by email or SMS) to alert the customer as their order goes through your order to delivery system. 

For example, we’ve got your order. We’re making your order. Your order is on its way. It’s nearly there. It’s arrived. 

The general rule with notifications is it’s better to over-communicate than under-communicate. 

Mobile phone screen showing two alerts, one from Twitter and one from What's App

That stops customers from calling up your customer service team to find out what’s going on. You should only have to intervene when there’s an actual problem. In our pizza shop example, notifications would mean we’d have to deal with fewer customer calls asking where their pizza was.

If you have the budget, you can also do notifications and tracking with an app, which brands like Uber Eats and Menulog do. 

E-Commerce customer journey - Delight me

The actual delivery of the order to the customer means we’re almost at the end of the e-Commerce customer journey. The proof is in the pudding (or pizza!) at this point.

Products should arrive with the customer in good condition. No damages. No missing items. Everything they ordered in the way they wanted it. 

If something’s gone wrong, you need clear customer service processes to deal with issues. Refunds or returns, for example. 

A subscription model box branded with three-brains on a doorstep

You should also consider including extras with the delivery to add to the “delight”. In the pizza delivery example, that’d be something like free garlic bread when the customer has spent over a certain amount. Even something simple like a thank you note or discount voucher can add delight.

Small unexpected touches like this can make a big difference. Customers remember them because they’re unexpected. They’re an easy and cheap way to drive repeat sales.

E-Commerce customer journey - Motivate me to share

The e-Commerce customer journey has one final step, even if it feels like it’s over once the customer has the product.  That’s how you use the customer’s satisfaction with the order to drive future sales. 

Ideally, you sign happy customers up to your CRM system. You use this to share news and loyalty offers with them. Exclusive member-only deals, for example, or discounts after a set number of orders. 

You’d also look at activities which drive positive word of mouth. Satisfied customers telling others about their happy experience. 

Group of game pieces following one game piece with added caption - we love you

This is often driven via social media. Content which encourages customers to like and follow you. Content which encourages them to make positive comments and post reviews on other sites. Maybe a “refer a friend” offer which gives them a discount if they persuade someone else to order? 

This last stage is all about good customer service. You keep existing customers happy, so they tell others how good you are. 

Conclusion - e-Commerce customer journey

The customer journey map is a helpful tool in building your e-Commerce customer experience because it gets so specific.

It forces you to think about specific customer needs and pain points and how to fix them. You define clear touchpoints and identify clear jobs to be done to help customers at each stage.

It’s a great way to organise key tasks and see how all your brand activation fits together. You use it to shape your briefs, and structure and prioritise actions in your marketing plan.

Customer journey map example - shows 7 steps of journey from Spark my Interest to Motivate me to share, with examples of needs/pain points and touchpoints for Sydney Pineapple Pizza company

It gives you a clear picture of how to link different activities together with clear calls to action. You meet the customer’s needs and pain points at each stage, so their overall journey runs more smoothly. That makes for a better customer experience and happier, more loyal customers. 

Check out our D2C experience article and our customer experience guide for more on this. Or get in touch if you need help with your own e-Commerce customer journey map.

Photo credits

Woman blowing sprinkles : Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash

Dog ears : Photo by kyle smith on Unsplash

Man crying : Photo by Tom Pumford on Unsplash

Laptops : Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

Blank outdoor billboard : Photo by Kate Trysh on Unsplash

Shout (adapted) : Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Google Tablet : Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. from Pexels

Thumbs up (adapted) : Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Online shopping with phone and credit card : Photo by PhotoMIX Company from Pexels

Food delivery cyclist : Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Phone notification : Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Doorstep delivery (adapted) : Photo by MealPro on Unsplash

Game pieces (adapted) : Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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