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Mapping your Customer’s Store Experience

As a retailer, you have probably made hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions since the legalization of cannabis was announced. Where should I source my product? Where should I open my bricks and mortar store(s)? What POS software should I use?

With all these decisions, you may not have had the time to take a step back and ask yourself: What is my target customer experience? Once you are up and running, have ironed out the bumps, confirmed customers are returning, and maybe even leveraged some customer data, it’s a great time to map out that target customer experience, commonly referred to as CX.

What is a Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map is a visual representation showing all the potential touchpoints a customer has with a specific brand. In this case that brand is you, the retailer. Some of these touchpoints you control, like the in-store or online experience, and some you don’t, like what people are saying about your business on social media. Every customer’s journey is unique. Some will go through many touchpoints, others very few.

Customer journey maps are also used to identify moments of truth—those ‘make it or break it’ moments where your customer becomes your biggest fan, or alternatively, walks away forever. You will have several moments of truth throughout the journey, but not every touchpoint can be one. They are important because they indicate where to focus your CX efforts. For some retailers, the interaction with in-store staff will be a moment of truth, for others it will be the facing in the store, and for others still it could be a customer care initiative post-purchase.

And finally, customer journey maps show what happens when things go awry. There are touchpoints for returns, customer complaints, online reviews (good and bad), refused credit cards, etc. How you treat your customers during these touchpoints reveals as much about your CX strategy as when things go well, perhaps even more so.

Do I Really Need a Map?

The benefits of doing a mapping exercise are many. The biggest benefit is alignment of strategy and execution. Customer journey maps are a great way to communicate your desired customer experience to your staff and get them onboard to deliver it. Print it as a poster and hang it in the back office to remind everyone of the vision.

They are also a great tool to assist you when choosing new software. Whether you are looking for a new POS, a payment provider, a customer relationship management package, an e-comm platform (in provinces where e-comm is applicable) or all of the above, customer journey maps are an easy and effective way to communicate your requirements to a potential vendor.

And finally, these maps are useful to identify those things that are stopping you from delivering your target CX, and plan how to close those gaps and support the growth of your business. They will help you answer questions such as:

  • Do I need more sophisticated forecasting tools to reduce stock-outs and better predict sales?
  • Am I missing upsell and cross-sell opportunities?
  • Do I have the right product assortment?
  • What data will I need on my customers?

Don’t Try to be Everything to Everyone

Think Walmart vs. Saks Fifth Avenue. They are not trying to deliver the same customer experience and never will. By leveraging journey mapping techniques to determine what your target customer experience will be, aligning your staff and having a roadmap of initiatives to get you there, you will be well on your way to delivering an experience your customers will keep coming back for.

Rachel Bachmann teaches Customer Journey Mapping at the McGill School of Continuing Studies. She is also President and Founder of Akiri Consultants (, an IT consulting firm. Her firm helps clients in manufacturing, distribution and retail choose and acquire the right technologies for their business, with a growing number of clients in the cannabis vertical.
Graphic by Claire McCulloch