Customer Journey and User Journey: differences and ways to make the most of them in your eCommerce store


Surely, you’ve heard of customer journey before: the path a user follows to become your customer.

However, you may not be familiar with ‘user journey’.

In fact, it’s very common to mistake it for customer journey and to use both these terms as if they were the same thing.

But they aren’t.

So for you to take advantage of any of them, it’s important that you know them well and can distinguish between them.

Keep on reading and you’ll learn:

  • What they are and what their differences are
  • What their maps are like
  • How to optimize them to sell more in your store

Are you ready to go on this ‘journey’? 😉

👉 Customer Journey and User Journey: what they are and their differences

Although they are both very similar concepts and we tend to mix them up, in reality there are big differences between them.

Let’s see them.

Customer Journey is the path a person follows from the moment they learn about your brand to the moment they buy from you.

For example, if you are buying a laptop, before you actually buy it, you normally:

  • Ask your family and friends.
  • Look up info on different models.
  • Look up blogs, opinions or YouTube videos.
  • Compare prices amongst eCommerce stores.
  • Etc.

All these actions are a part of a customer’s path and constitute a ‘customer journey map’.

Now, how is this useful?

This allows you to know the phases a user goes through before shopping. This way, you’ll know how to optimize your sales strategy on every level.

✅ So, what is User Journey?

It specifically has to do with user experience.

In other words, while customer journey analyzes a user’s interactions with a brand, user journey focuses on that person’s interactions with their web.

For example, user journey takes into account whether the user finds the product they need rapidly or whether they find it easy to browse the web, among other things.

Therefore, we can say that user journey differs from customer journey in that:

  • It’s only digital: user journey focuses exclusively on user experience on the web, while customer journey includes offline interactions too. For example, if a person contacts you on your customer service line, that data goes onto your customer journey as well.
  • It focuses on a single channel: customer journey, conversely, offers a multi-channel experience since it encompasses all channels a customer goes through (social media, Google’s search bar, your physical store, etc.). User journey focuses exclusively on the web.

These are the basic concepts. Now let’s see their application.

👉 Customer journey and user journey maps as a tool for optimizing your sales strategy

A way to apply everything we’ve seen is by gathering interactions in a sort of map.

This will allow us to graphically see the stages a customer goes through in their shopping process (customer journey map) or while they browse your web (user journey map).

This way, you’ll be able to better understand your customers and know how to lure them to buying from you.

For example, you might get a lot of traffic through your blog, but then this won’t necessarily result in more sales. These maps might help you detect what the problem is and how to put an end to it.

You’ll get a clearer picture with an example.

✅ Example: A customer journey map

Let’s say you own a smartphone eCommerce store.

What would be your customer’s ‘route’?

  • Discovery: a person types on Google “best Xiaomi smartphones”. Amongst the results, Google finds a post from your blog with a comparison of different models of that brand. This is your first ‘touchpoint’, the first time a person makes contact with your store.
  • Second contact: while a person keeps on looking up information, they come across ads from your eCommerce on other websites.
  • Third contact: a client has decided on a specific model and they are comparing prices. They go back to your website, type in the model’s name in your internal search engine and visit the product card to know the price.
  • They decide to buy… but then abandon the cart: they put the product in the shopping cart, but get cold feet at the last minute and end up abandoning it.
  • Fourth contact: you send a customer an abandoned-cart email to remind them they haven’t completed their purchase.
  • Purchase: after sleeping on it for a while, the person decides to buy the smartphone in your store. 

This is just one of the possible routes a customer can take for buying a product. In order for your customer journey map to be complete, you would ideally include the various routes they can go through to better analyze customer behavior.

For you to get a clearer picture, this could be a graphic representation of a customer journey:


✅ Example: A user journey map

Now let’s see what a user journey map would look like.

  • First contact: a person gets to your store after typing “best Xiaomi smartphones” on Google. They come across a professional and appealing design. Their doubts on the product have been cleared by the post that redirected them, and (overall) they have good impressions of it.
  • Browsing: from that point, they decide to browse your web to go over your catalog’s smartphones. They find it easy to navigate amongst categories.
  • Search: they decide to look up a specific smartphone and they use your search engine for it. Although they get a no-results page (because you don’t sell that model), the same website shows them similar smartphones of the same brand so they don’t walk away empty-handed.
  • Product card browsing: through suggestions, users browse different product cards. They like the feel of it and are satisfied with every smartphone’s review. In addition, there are some which inspire trust.
  • Purchase: they add their product to their shopping cart and go through a fast and simple checkout process. With just a few clicks, their order is already on the way.

As you can see, customer journey and user journey share some identical steps.

While the former allows us to analyze customer experience in general, the latter allows us to spot problems a user might encounter while browsing our web (which might discourage them from buying).

👉 Bonus: best practices to optimize user journey and customer journey

Although they’re different tools, there are some factors which affect both of them.

Here are some tips on how to optimize them.

✅ First impressions matter

How many times have you entered a website and left right away because it didn’t inspire trust?

Web design is key if you want your store’s first impression to be a good one.

As we explained in this post on UX best practices, the better your web looks, the more trust it will inspire.

Here’s some advice:

  • Less is more: try to use a simple, clear and intuitive design.
  • Choose colors wisely: don’t overplay it and keep it down to 2 or 3 colors that stand for your brand.
  • Watch your CTAs: avoid over-using call to actions not to avoid users. Also, try to place them in visible places and in outstanding colors.

In general, remember to take care of your store’s physical appearance because it will determine whether a person browses on or -even- makes a purchase.


✅ Optimize web navigability

Now, imagine you have a web with an appealing design, but you find it impossible to find a product amongst so many categories.

User experience and buyer experience get affected, right?

So you need to do everything in your power for the user to navigate easily. That is, you need to optimize your web’s navigability.


  • Improve load speed: a slow website can make you lose customers. To avoid this, learn everything you need to know on web load speed.
  • Keep your browsing menu simple: otherwise, users will get lost amongst categories. Including main categories and the first level of subcategories is more than enough.
  • Get a good search engine: an internal search engine is key for specific searches. If you want a top-notch search experience, you must not settle for your eCommerce’s default one but rather get an advanced one.

For you to get a clear picture of how important this is, customers who use smart search engine Doofinder have managed to increase their sales by 20%.

If you’d like to try it out, you can access our free trial for 30 days by clicking here.

👉 Are you ready to build your customer’s ‘route map’?

We hope after reading this post, you already know the differences between customer journey and user journey.

But don’t just stay there.

Step in your customers’ shoes and build the maps for their experiences. Once you put them into practice, you’ll notice how powerful these tools are to optimize your sales strategy.

Get on it then. 😉