Service Blueprints: The Challenges Commerce Retailers Face

Service blueprints are powerful visualization tools for creating service experiences. When done correctly, they are useful illustrations for complex processes and service offerings. They allow organizations to analyze current efficiency and effectiveness as well as identify opportunities for innovation.

Diagramming a multichannel commerce experience is complex, ever-evolving, and requires the input of multiple stakeholders, and organizations often encounter difficulties when implementing service blueprints in commerce projects.

But by understanding the types of challenges that arise when it comes to service blueprints, commerce retailers are equipped to address them. In our case, it helped us figure out the most foundational elements for an omnichannel service blueprint for ecommerce experiences. Here's what we found.

The State of Commerce and How it Affects Service Blueprints

Today's ecommerce customers demand contextual omnichannel touchpoints that are integrated into one holistic shopping experience. In other words, the ability to engage with the shopping experience across different platforms and media, in which the context of the experience adapts with the touchpoint. ​​Monolithic legacy systems simply don't have this kind of flexibility.

This has put pressure on businesses and tech stacks to quickly adopt a state-of-the-art 'composable commerce' approach that allows merchants to easily customize and combine different elements of an online shopping experience.​​​ An integrated approach is needed to meet these requirements, which is uncomfortable, especially for IT and business departments. They are used to a siloed collaboration in which disparate teams don't work together. But an integrated way of working is mandatory to meet the required holistic experiences and shift towards the needed 'composable commerce' approach.

The standard service blueprint, with its one-dimensional structure, is unable to adequately address the interdisciplinary product experience perspective needed to meet these fast-changing challenges. Disciplines are still locked into their biased way of thinking and working with one-dimensional mapping ​​tools and KPI dashboards, as well as obsolete approaches like C4, which all have the tendency to limit interdisciplinary harmony.

Service Blueprints: Where Problems Arise

To better address the underlying issues of creating a service blueprint, it helps to consider where in the process the issues arise.

1. Understanding and Visualization

Mapping out the current customer journey and underlying processes is the first step in creating a service blueprint. Standardized components such as linking arrows, front and backstage actions, supported processes, physical evidence, and line of visibility help to structure the blueprint and integrate business and tech dependencies – but unfortunately, only to a certain degree.

Commerce customer journeys can be complex, with multiple touch points across various channels. Prioritizing the wrong touchpoints and linking them with too many arrows may cause a lack of thematic sub-structure and leads to a visual overload.

2. Diagnosis and Prioritization

After creating the overall structure of the blueprint, it’s time to dive into the details and identify weaknesses and opportunities in the customer journey.

The distinction between the “status quo” and “future state” of customer journey steps can become blurred due to the appearance of new solutions during the mapping of the “status quo,” leading to a decreased usability of the tool. It can also be challenging to involve and gain buy-in from indirect stakeholders, which can result in a just partial improvement of the overall experience.

3. Planning and Execution

Ideally, the third step of the service blueprint process is implementing new solutions and creating plans for associated strategies and tactics like software architectures, product strategies, and UI designs.

But the cluttered structure of the previous steps can make it difficult to derive requirements and may require the use of additional, disconnected mapping tools that operate in silos. This leads to low commitment and one-time usage of the Blueprints, mainly at the beginning of the Product Discovery phase. This is a critical issue as it is important to continuously respond to dynamic customer and market demands in the commerce industry.

By u​​nderstanding the challenges of the service blueprint process, we were able to reinvent the traditional service blueprint, to create ​​an omnichannel service blueprint for commerce retailers.

Now it is easily possible to achieve holistic shopping experiences in the fast-paced commerce environment.

​To learn more about the Commerce Omnichannel Blueprint, check out this related article The Commerce Omnichannel Blueprint: Creating Seamless Experiences for Modern Retailers.

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