When you are mapping out a customer journey, often you’ll find that customers have different drivers and needs to complete a certain set of actions. For example, one type of customer might be an absolute fan of your brand and is triggered to engage your service very early in the process, to explore, get inspired and see what’s new. At the other hand, you will find more transactional focused (prospect) customers, who have began their journey elsewhere and visit your site or product catalogue to buy something – as they know exactly what they want or are just very impulsive in their shopping behavior. Let’s look at both type of journeys, how the differ from each other and what you can do to design for them.

Experiential vs transactional journeys

Consider the following high-level journey diagram:

Transactional vs experiential journeys

In the Transactional journey, a customer might do his exploration and inspiration on third channels, such as Instagram, Amazon, comparison sites, or simply by talking to friends. After this ‘premeditation’, he decides to buy the product (either from your channel or an affiliated one). Simply put, this transactional journey is very straightforward and one-sided: the customer comes to you to buy the product or service he has decided to purchase.

Example: “Before I buy my new running shoes, I first consult RunRepeat, after which I explore the hashtag #newrunningshoes and #runningshoes on Instagram. Then, when I found that Nike’s Pegasus running shoes are best for me, I do a price comparison on Amazon and conclude that buying directly from Nike’s website is actually a good deal, and continue to order it there.”

In the Experiential journey, a customer might do her exploration, and find inspiration, all on your channel(s): she might be a fan of your brand, be inspired by your website or the content you display, or because she likes to be fully engaged with your brand, or simply wants to reduce the number of options/brand to choose from.

Example: “I love running and need new shoes. There is so much choice out there, I don’t know where to start, really. That’s why I start my discovery on Nike.com. Nike is, after all, the best company out there (well.. maybe together with Adidas). Whichever new innovations and inspiring stories they have, must be cutting edge! I also saw they have the Nike Plus program, seemed like a great way to become part of the Nike community. I’m going for those new Pegasus running shoes, they look awesome and have so much neat inventions in them!” 

Designing for both journeys

You see how both types of journey have different levels of engagement with the brand? How they use different channels to make choices? How the amount of the touchpoints, varies? That’s the difficulty for organizations: how to capture both audiences in the best way, especially the transactional-driven person that only connects to your brand to buy something and leave again.

Previously, I wrote about Google’s Micro-moments in one of my articles. Google has decided to break up journeys in sort of ‘mini journeys’ – or micro-moments, as Google calls them – to extrapolate intentions/needs per moment (in the form of: “I want to know/do/buy/do”). That’s one way to do it, for sure. I suggest reading more about Google’s method if you’re interested. Worth the read.

However, there’s more in this world than Google (although you might tend to think differently, these days ;). Let’s go back to our example above, and see what design principles and journey requirements can be extracted from those journeys:


  1. Support and empower customer to find relevant content on other channels (e.g. social media)
  2. Stimulate customer to understand product details and performance in Consider and Select stage
  3. Ensure a hassle-free, convenient and fast purchase and delivery, as this the main reason the customer is coming to your platform


  1. Inspire and excite with relevant product and success stories, focusing on performance, community and the “Nike feeling”
  2. Present curated selection of shoes based on preferences, goals and ambition of customer
  3. Ensure hassle-free, convenient and fast purchase and delivery

See how the requirements and design principles per journey are different? Do you also see how we’re not just stating: “Get the transactional focused customer to abandon all other channels and solely use Nike.com”? Rather than forcing people to your channels, make sure you’re relevant on theirs.

“Rather than forcing people to your channels, make sure you’re relevant on theirs.”

Examples and points for improvement

Let’s look at some examples and pointers on how above design requirements can be met.

For the transactional-minded customer, ‘support and empowerment’ on third channels, means that you will have to invest rich, relevant content in the Exploration and Inspiration journey. Adidas did this nicely with its ‘Originals’ series (featuring Snoop Dogg), as well as AirBnB, which promotes its ‘AirBnB Trips’ and diversity in a variety of different ways. This will support the transactional customer during this phase, as he will get aware and familiar with your brand and products through customer stories and content.

Snoop Dogg for Adidas Originals

By being present and relevant on these channels, the trigger to further explore products and their stories, increases.

For the experiential journey, you might want to put more focus on the actual experience and story behind the product. Bellroy for example, does a great job in focusing on telling the story ‘behind the product’, whereby they show how much slimmer your wallet could be with a Bellroy wallet. This nicely this in to the Consider and Select stage as well, as you better understand product details and performance.

Bellroy wallet experience

Another great example is fashion brand Sixty Nine (69), bringing models and fashion to life and immersing you in their universe by means of videos, and playful micro-interactions. Finally, Storyboots also has an engaging experience where they zoom in on the heritage and fabrication of their boots, making you part of their story.

69 Fashion brand opening page

Furthermore, notice that both journeys highlight a hassle-free, convenient and fast purchase and delivery.

PwC 2017/18 Customer experience research: ‘What people value most in their customer experience’

In today’s world, efficiency, convenience, friendly payment and (friendly) service are the main attributes people expect when shopping online (or offline, for that matter), according to PwC’s ‘Future of Customer Experience survey 2018/18. That is why hassle-free shopping should be a hygiene factor in any online experience, regardless which journey one finds itself in. If you’re not on par with ‘the big boys’ like Amazon, Walmart and Apple, people will turn to other platforms to buy their products from.

Know your journeys, and invest in convenient online purchases

As you can see, there are many great examples on how to engage transactional-minded folks into a more experiential brand journey. Likewise, telling your brand story, involving people to create a sense of community, and in general engaging more with experiential-minded customers, will ensure they feel part of that story (and remain loyal). Hassle-free, convenient and efficient online purchase and delivery are hygiene factors in both journeys.