Retail & eCommerce


Optimizing the 3 Phases of the Retail Customer Journey

Mary Kearl By Mary Kearl Apr 4, 2022

Traditional retail and eCommerce funnels and shopper journey maps often paint a static picture of an inverted pyramid, with the retail customer progressing from awareness and interest to consideration, then from consideration to intent and making a purchase. In reality, however, the shopper journey is much more dynamic than that, with customers moving from first becoming acquired to then becoming activated, monetized, and retained.

Here, we'll walk through these three key phases that should follow retail and eCommerce brands' acquisition efforts: Activation, monetization, and retention and how to successfully execute on these to deliver a strong return on ad spend and drive customer lifetime value.

What Is the Shopper Journey, Anyway? Get to Know the 3 Phases of the Retail Customer Journey

Phase #1: Activation

While acquisition campaigns help brands bring new potential shoppers into the mix, the work doesn't stop there. New retail customers may download your brand's app or opt into receiving SMS campaigns, web push notifications, or email marketing campaigns, but that's only the beginning. Real growth comes when your brand can activate your retail customers by getting them to:

  • Use your brand's products or services

  • See the value of your offerings so they begin paying for them

  • Use your app or website

  • Complete the account sign-up process

  • Fill out their complete customer profile details

  • Opt into receiving updates from your company on multiple channels

  • Sign up for a free trial

  • Complete their first transaction

  • Save their preferred payment method to their account

  • Refer their friends and family

Phase #2: Monetization

At this step of the retail customer journey, brands focus on encouraging customers to evolve beyond early engagement and completing their first transaction to making more frequent, larger purchases. Here the goal is to understand each retail customer’s individual willingness to pay (WTP)—that is, the maximum amount they're willing to spend on a product or service—and then use lifecycle messaging campaigns to:

  • Encourage spending

  • Inform shoppers about discounts, sales, limited-time offers, and seasonal promotions

  • Help buyers complete the checkout process

  • Deliver targeted, personalized offers and outreach

  • Unlock upselling and cross-selling opportunities

  • Keep customers in the loop when prices change or items come back in stock

Phase #3: Retention

Success at this phase of the shopper journey requires brands to reach out to customers regularly and consistently. The goal here is to drive longer user lifetimes, keeping customers engaged for longer periods of time by continuing to activate and monetize them on an ongoing basis. After all, as user lifetimes go up, lifetime value will follow.

Some popular ways to encourage retention include:

  • Highlighting new products, features, and services and their value to your shoppers

  • Offering general education to stay top of mind with retail customers

  • Communicating your brand values to create a more human connection with your buyers

  • Encouraging shoppers to enroll in your retail brand's loyalty program

For even more effective customer retention methods used by leading brands, get your copy of the Braze Modern Retention Guide.

How to Optimize the Shopper Journey Using Cross-Channel Retail Customer Journey Management

Step #1: Invest in cross-channel marketing

Over the past two years, we’ve seen a move to digital and hybrid shopping experiences become increasingly dominant parts of the larger retail and eCommerce space. To reach your audience effectively today, you need to be where these customers are. That makes cross-channel marketing key to successful retail customer journey management. When retail and eCommerce brands use two or more marketing channels to build relationships with customers leveraging cross-channel customer engagement, they see impressive gains in activation (169X higher purchases per user), monetization (3X increase in customer LTV), and retention (7.3X increase in 90-day retention), according to research on the state of customer engagement for retail and eCommerce brands from our 2021 Global Customer Engagement Review.

As the number of channels brands use to engage retail customers increases, so do purchases per user/buyer, buyers, repeat buyers, sessions, and average user lifetime. The upshot? Taking advantage of the channels you need to speak to your audience effectively can have a major positive impact on both your customer relationships and your business results.

Step #2: Use a customer journey management tool to maximize engagement across channels and throughout the shopper journey

Leading retailers utilize customer journey management tools like Braze Canvas to create personalized, automated campaigns anywhere within a given customer’s journey, across channels and across phases of the shopper journey.

Named a leader when it comes to mobile-first and cross-channel marketing, the Braze customer engagement platform powers the customer journeys of global cutomers for 1,000+ brands in 50+ countries. Marketers across verticals work within our easy-to-use journey management tool to:

  • Create and visualize responsive, individual customer journeys

  • Guide customers from out-of-product (e.g. email, SMS) to in-product (mobile, web) experiences

  • Build out rich, personalized messages across email, SMS, push notifications, in-app messages, and other channels

  • Power real-time personalization based on each unique customr’s individual preferences and behaviors

  • Optimize campaign performance using A/B testing and custom reporting & analytics

Step #3: Launch effective cross-channel retail customer engagement campaigns

Ready to bring campaigns to life that support shopper activation, monetization, and retention, as outlined above? Our Braze Retail Inspiration Guide is packed with 30+ customizable campaigns that have been used by the world's savviest brands to optimize the retail customer journey across channels. Find step-by-step instructions on how to launch activation, monetization, and retention campaigns across:

  • In-app messages

  • In-browser messages

  • Mobile push notifications

  • Web push notifications

  • Email marketing campaigns

  • SMS/MMS campaigns

  • Paid social media

  • …and more channels

Next Steps for Improving the Shopper Journey

To learn more on how to create meaningful and relevant experiences for every shopper, register to attend our “Grow Loyalty. Grow Sales.” webinar on April 6.


Mary Kearl

Mary Kearl

Mary Kearl is a writer and digital strategist, who has led email, social media, and content marketing for several brands. She has helped launch six mobile apps and one niche social network and is always up for a good Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime binge recommendation or travel tip

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