Tracing how consumers practice the digital customer journey on the smartphone


Datum: måndag 6 februari 2023

Tid: 13.00 – 14.30

Plats: B600

Patrik Stoopendahl joins us from the University of Borås to give a seminar on "Tracing how consumers practice the digital customer journey on the smartphone: A socio-material exploration using trace ethnography."


This seminar consists of two parts. First, to introduce a PhD-project aimed at exploring the
digital customer journey (please read below) and second, the method trace ethnography. Trace ethnography prescribes the researcher to use digital trace data produced by informants to enrich the ethnographic description (e.g., traces in social media, correspondence, documents, behavioral data traces). This specific research project used smartphone metering technology yielding 24h real-time digital trace data representing eight informants’ customer journeys. The digital data traces enrichened the follow-up interviews with the informants and made it possible to jointly explore what unfolded on the smartphone.

Apart from introducing the research project, trace ethnography and phone metering, the seminar also shares personal insights, learnings, mistakes, and challenges connected to collecting informants’ digital data traces.

About the research project

The findings suggest that consumers assemble with digital functionalities embedded in the digital shopping infrastructure. Some of these functionalities are introduced and managed by retail companies (notifications that remind the consumer when products are back in stock and pull them back into the journey), some are foundational to the market infrastructure (Information retrieval systems, e.g. Google), and some are mental imageries that assemble inside the consumer’s imagination (a vision or an idea of a specific product being translated into text on an IR-system). In contrast to conventional customer journey research, which assumes the customer journey is a funnel-like, and purchase-oriented decision-making process, this research shows that many customer journeys are performed simultaneously and involve human and non-human actors. Customer journeys are broken into shorter events rather than cohesive, spread across time. They do not necessarily include purchases and functionalities in the digital market infrastructure agences the consumer throughout the journey.


Patrik Stoopendahl, a PhD candidate in Digital Retail at the University of Borås (PhD defense is planned for the second half of 2023), holds an MSc in business and organizational anthropology from Copenhagen University and a BA in cultural anthropology from Uppsala University. In addition to the PhD research, Patrik is also involved as a researcher in a research project exploring the e-commerce manager (funded by Handelsrådet). He is a recurring chronicler for “Tidningen Market”, the leading news outlet for and about the Swedish retail industry. He is a co-author of the managerial literature “Köprevolutionen” (2015) and spent six years working in the market
and futures research industry before initiating his PhD education in late 2018. Review engagements include guest reviewing for “The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research” and participating in the review of the PhD education in Business Administration at the School of Economics and Management, Lund University.