supermarket shelves from above

Customer journey mapping in retail: increasing perceived safety and trust in a supermarket

June 28, 2023

Customer journey mapping in retail can help take the customer by the hand and together walk through times of perceived high risk. In this article, we look at how the retail sector can use this tool to create customer-centered services, how to create journey maps, and what they look like.


What is customer journey mapping in retail?

Customer journey mapping in retail refers to the process of visually illustrating and understanding the various stages, touchpoints, and interactions a customer experiences while engaging with a retail brand. It involves mapping out the entire customer journey, from the initial awareness and consideration stages to the post-purchase and loyalty phases.

The purpose of customer journey mapping is to gain insights into the customer's perspective and identify opportunities for improving the overall retail experience. By creating a visual representation of the customer journey, retailers can analyze and optimize each stage to enhance customer satisfaction, increase engagement, and drive sales. Thus, journey mapping comes with manifold benefits and value for retailers.

What is the value of retail journey maps?

Creating a customer journey map can help detect pain points: actual lacks of service, insecurities and the potential for enlightenment of customers. Journey mapping enables the discovery of moments of insecurity and fear, relieves customers and helps them deal with the situation.

The journey map helps to identify moments of high perceived risk and uncovers reasons for dissatisfaction. Through the journey map, actions can be derived: what are problematic areas and moments? And, above all: How to improve the situation?

How to create a retail customer journey map?

The most important steps of journey mapping in retail are:

  1. Identify who the customers are: develop one or more personas to understand what needs and wishes you are confronted with.
  2. Understand the stages of customer behavior: commonly in retail we see the phases of discovery/awareness, purchase, retention and advocacy, however the stages can vary from product to product
  3. Identify the purchase phase: this is the most relevant phase of the journey – what's the ultimate situation in which customers buy
  4. Analyze steps and touchpoint, uncover friction points: what makes the customers leave the store
  5. Add extra details and KPIs, e.g. engagement time, service time

Please consider this as a simple overview and continue on this in-depth guide on how to create a customer journey map for a very detailed instruction.

An example customer journey map for retail: supermarket and grocery

As an example, let's look at supermarkets.

In January 2020, supermarkets were a normal part of our life and rarely someone was afraid of stepping inside. But times changed: after the start of the Covid pandemic, within just a few weeks, supermarkets became a perceived high-risk area and customers were hesitant to visit them.

Supermarkets and governments were collaborating to increase the actual safety as far as they could.

Perceived safety and actual safety can be two quite different things. The same is true for a company that is convinced of its high safety standards, and the customer who depends on their own perception based on evidence.

At this time we understood how crucial feeling safe is, even in the most normal moments of our everyday life.

Therefore, a big part of making customers feel safe again also depends on the organizations themselves. They need to ask themselves: Do the customers know how much the supermarket cares? Do they feel as protected as they can? And above all, do they know where they need to watch out on their own, and when they can just rely on the supermarket measures?

Now check out the example journey map below to get an impression of how journey mapping can help you discover pain points, opportunities, and threats related to a service under specific circumstances like a crisis.

On the journey map you will find the experience of two personas: Paul, an elderly person belonging to the risk group, and Emma, a young girl. They have different needs, habits, and fears when going shopping.

An example journey map of a supermarket experience. Click to expand.
View retail example journey map

High-level vs zoom-in experiences in retail

Please be aware that this is a high-level journey map. You could zoom into every single step and analyze them in detail.

Let’s take the first step as an example:

  • How do they get to the supermarket?
  • Is Paul forced to take public transport, whereas Emma drives her bike?
  • What's the in-store customer experience? Does it differ from other channels?
  • How does that influence the entire stress level throughout their shopping experience?

Also, this map is based on the situation in Austria in 2020. Different governments had different policies and take different measures. Journey maps might therefore vary a lot depending on what point of time and in which specific context you’re analyzing.

Key take aways

Customer journey mapping can be used in retail to understand the experience customers have, especially in extraordinary situations like moments of crisis. It also helps to have a detailed look at different groups at customers that have different needs and wishes. Overall, journey mapping in retail is a great tool to increase customer satisfaction, trust and loyalty.

... and now, what's next?

You can have a look at various journey map examples from different industries.

Or directly jump into practice and create your own retail journey map with Smaply – it's free, forever

Create retail journey with Smaply!