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E-Commerce Customer Journey & Moment of Truth

Tamizh Selvan
December 19, 2016 |

Recently we had published a blog ‘10 Mistakes to Avoid in Journey Mapping’ written by Dave Fish which was received well. We thought it will be great if there was a ‘prequel’ explaining ‘buyer persona’, ‘customer journey’ and ‘moment of truth’. It is important for eCommerce merchants to familiarize themselves with these terms and concepts as it drives customer acquisition and retention.

What is a Buyer Persona?

According to HubSpot, “Buyer personas (sometimes referred to as marketing personas) are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. Personas help us all — in marketing, sales, product, and services — internalize the ideal customer we’re trying to attract, and relate to our customers as real humans.”

Built from the real worlds of real buyers, a buyer persona tells you what prospective customers are thinking and doing as they weigh their options to address a problem that your company resolves.

It is important to have a deep understanding of the buyer persona for customer acquisition and retention.

What is a Customer Journey?

Adam Richardson, in an HBR web article, ‘Using Customer Journey Maps to Improve Customer Experience’ explains customer journey as “the steps your customer(s) go through in engaging with your company, whether it be a product, an online experience, retail experience, or a service, or any combination. The more touch points you have, the more complicated — but necessary — such a map becomes.”

To understand the customer journey we need to understand the ‘moments of truth’.

What is Moment of Truth?

Jan Carlzon, president of Scandinavian Airlines, defined the ‘Moment of Truth’ in business with this statement:

Any time a customer comes into contact with a business, however remote, they have an opportunity to form an impression.”

First Moment of Truth

In a letter to the shareholders, the then CEO A.G.Lafley picked up the phrase introduced by Jan Carlzon, and popularized the term ‘First Moment of Truth’. In that letter, he mentions that ‘brands face their first moment of truth when consumers stand in front of the store shelf’ (i.e.) the consumers make up their mind in the first three to seven seconds on seeing the product on the store shelf.

He also mentions what happens in that 3 to 7 seconds – ‘A lot happens in that moment, as consumers assess the performance, quality and value P&G brands offer relative to other products on the shelf. When we strike the right balance between brand promise and store price, we win that first moment of truth’.

Second Moment of Truth

The second moment of truth is about the experience of the consumer after the purchase of the product. This experience determines whether he will purchase or not from the same brand again.

A.G.Lafley put it like this – ‘When we get this right – when we deliver the benefits promised, when we provide a delightful and memorable usage experience, when we make everyday life a little bit better, a little more convenient, a little bit healthier and more beautiful – then we begin to earn the trust on which great brands are built’.

Third Moment of Truth

Third Moment of Truth was coined by Pete Blackshaw (ex-P&G). This is the moment of truth when the customer becomes a fan of the product or is frustrated by the experience and talks about the brand in various channels. It is a loop back

Zero Moment Of Truth

The zero moment of truth (ZMOT) refers to the point in the buying cycle when the consumer researches a product, often before the seller even knows that they exist.

ZMOT is that moment when you grab your laptop, mobile phone or some other wired device and start learning about a product or service you’re thinking about trying or buying.


Image Courtesy – (Coursera) – Digital Analytics for Marketing Professionals: Marketing Analytics in Theory – Course 2 – Module 1 – Week 1 – Digital’s Influence of Marketing

Customer Journey

Customer Decision Journey is a key framework to understand the purchase process of a customer.

Today’s customer journey is not linear. They go back and forth many times between their initial stimulus or trigger to the time when they make the purchase. The feedback they provide about the product/brand and their comments in various online channels form a part of that journey.

Customer decision journey resembles like the one below

customer decision journey

Why ‘Customer Journey’ and ‘Moments of Truth’ are important for eCommerce merchants?

57%—that’s how far the average B2B buyer is through the purchase decision before engaging a supplier sales rep.

What does the above stat mean? It means that even before the buyer contacts the sales person she has done enough online research, discussed with her friends/colleagues and is half way through her purchase. The contact with the sales person is just a natural progression to confirm what she has already read or heard in the media and for negotiation purposes.

The path of purchase is not linear anymore and there are multiple touch points. Whatever be the touch point or device, it is important for the merchant to provide the right information at the right time to the right user. This content will act as a trigger to the user to make the purchase decision.


Image Source: Please see reference 10 below

The content could be a blog post, a demo video, a case study or an Instagram image depending on the stage of the purchase decision.

This is why it becomes important for the eCommerce merchant to understand the buyer persona, the customer journey and the moment of truth.

Soon, we will have another blog that will discuss the kind of content marketing that is needed to engage the customers during the various stages of decision-making journey.

Keep watching this space.


Tamizh Selvan

Tamizh Selvan heads the marketing efforts for DCKAP and its brands. He manages its content marketing and blog. He is a bibliophile and a cinephile. He can be found browsing at any one of the popular bookshops in Chennai during the weekends or watching movies at home.

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