The ongoing impact of the pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated consumer adoption of online shopping, especially as brick-and-mortar retail faces ever-evolving social-distancing protocols, fluctuating inventory in-store, and limited hours of operation due to staffing constraints.
The consumer behavior report by Amazon shows that e-marketplaces and online stores will continue to play a growing role in the life of shoppers, with more than half of the consumers (57%) revealing that they do more online shopping now than before the pandemic.
But with rapid increase in online shopping, also comes an increase in business competition. It’s no longer just about setting up an online storefront, offering the best deals and discounts on products and getting a consumer to make a purchase.
The focus is a lot on retaining this customer and ensuring they come back to buy more from you, despite the available options.
Yes, we’re talking about the post-purchase experience you offer.
What is a post-purchase experience?
In simple words, post-purchase experience describes the way a customer thinks, feels, and acts after they have bought a product or service from you. It also consists of communication with the customer after the purchase. This includes transactional updates, order status and shipping alerts, customer support, returns, refunds, cancellation and exchanges requested on the purchase made.
The objectives and goals of a good post-purchase experience
When a consumer makes a purchase, it’s an opportunity for a business to build an ongoing relationship with them. While most focus on acquiring customers, post-purchase experience strategies are more aligned towards retaining existing ones.
Here are some of the goals and objectives of optimizing your post-purchase experience:
- Increase repeat purchases: The Pareto principle famously stated that 80% of your business would come from 20% of your repeat customers. When a post-purchase experience is positive, you give buyers another reason to choose you over others for future purchases.
- Higher engagement: Highly engaged customers buy and promote your business more. A fully engaged customer contributes 23% more revenue than average. With a post-purchase strategy, you can leverage micro-actions like promoting content or review requests to keep the relationship going.
- Customer loyalty: When consumers increase their repeat purchases from your business and are more engaged, it automatically leads to higher retention rates and hence, loyalty - this means they will choose your business over others, irrespective of the deals available to them.
- Word of mouth/ referrals: Loyal customers are more likely to recommend your brand, products and services to their friends and family. This helps you reach a more qualified target audience, faster, at a much lower cost of acquisition.
Why should you focus on post-purchase experiences?
Most businesses focus on continually optimizing the experience they offer before and during the phase of a consumer making the purchase. But here’s taking a look at some of the reasons why the need for post-purchase experience optimization is increasing:
- ResearchGate found that a majority of online shoppers experience post-purchase anxiety, second-guessing the purchase they have made or the quality of the product that hasn’t yet been delivered. This leads to a higher number of WISMO (where is my order) calls and messages, and even cancellations.
- About 36.34% of consumers cancel their orders and more than 50% of the products are abandoned during the process. Studies have also found that about one fifth of the transactions on an online store, get canceled.
The ecommerce industry sees an average return rate of about 18.1%. In some cases, businesses also see increased return request rates even before the purchase is delivered.
- About 30% of all online orders are returned for refund due to post-purchase anxiety or order disputes; the reverse logistics incurred by the business often lead to increased costs.
- Nearly 6 (or more) out of every 1000 transactions see chargebacks; the number is increasing for online businesses across all major payment modes.
Simply put, post-purchase experiences are not just about building strong relationships with buyers. It has a direct impact on your business, cashflow, profits and overall revenue in the long run.
Strategies to improve the post-purchase experience
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to ensuring a positive post-purchase experience, here are some tips and strategies we do recommend following to address the above mentioned.
1. Automate post-purchase communication
From order confirmation to shipping alerts, up until the point of delivery, make sure you automate the post-purchase communication. Once a purchase is made, a consumer wants you to send them proactive updates about the order - so make sure you ask them where they’d like to receive the alerts on the thank you page.
For instance, most businesses have transactional and shipping alerts automated on emails. But you can always offer to send the same on text by asking for permission on the order confirmation or thank you page.
Doing so ensures that your updates are not missed, helping you address post-purchase anxiety head-on.
2. Send order tracking information
Don’t just send shipping updates; equip your customers with information that helps them track their orders too. This may include sharing AWB numbers, an order tracking URL, shipment company details and similar.
For example, a number of online shoppers choose to make purchases using PayPal today. But businesses are not able to sync order tracking details of these purchases in real-time, leading to a higher number of disputes due to the post-purchase anxiety. Using PayPal order tracking sync apps like TrackiPal lets you tackle this by automating information flow between your ecommerce site and PayPal account.
This also helps address the increasing number of disputes and chargebacks that ecommerce businesses tend to see today.
3. Offer omnichannel customer support
Online shoppers don’t just need assistance before and during the purchase process. There are times when they require help post-purchase, before and after an order gets delivered; that’s why it’s important to focus on offering omnichannel customer support.
Companies that offer omnichannel customer support are able to see customer engagement rates as high as 89%. But more importantly, they’re able to create a continuous loop of customer feedback, helping them identify opportunities and loopholes in the post-purchase experience before a negative review even goes online.
You can enable omnichannel support for customers using smart automations and ecommerce helpdesk solutions like Gorgias.
4. Create an online community for customers
About 27.3% of customers want to become a part of communities around a brand, a product or a service. One of the leading reasons being able to learn from similar consumers and make the most of the purchases they have invested in.
You can create a community on platforms like Facebook or even Instagram for that matter. Use this channel to not just let your customers reach out with questions, seek answers or help others, but also to share updates or helpful content around products and services.
Being able to read experiences of other consumers also helps in addressing post-purchase anxiety.
5. Set up self-service order management
Online businesses have started to focus on documenting and sharing their returns, refunds, exchange and cancellation policies. But in addition to the same, we also recommend setting up a self-service platform to manage orders - this includes everything from tracking orders to requesting or filing for returns, refunds, exchanges and similar.
The easier it is for a consumer to do so, the more comfortable they feel interacting with the business. They are reassured that if a purchase does not meet their requirements, they can always reach out to the business with ease.
You can do this easily with the help of apps like Flits and ClickPost. While one enables you to set up a customer account page for ease of order tracking and order history viewing, the other helps set up a purchase management interface for concerns like refunds, returns, cancellations and similar.
6. Personalize post-purchase communication
McKinsey has time and again shared the importance of personalization for consumers. While online businesses are focused on creating an Amazon-like shopping experience on the website, most miss out on personalization after the purchase is made.
Make sure you’re capturing consumer data like preferred channels of communication, previous purchases, products they’ve browsed through or are interested in, and so on. This data should be proactively put to use to in post-purchase communication; be it in the form of sharing product recommendations sending out deals and discounts for future purchases, or creating and sharing user manuals and guides that are more relevant to the buyer.
Metrics to measure post-purchase experience
As a business, any effort you put into streamlining operations, customer communication, online shopping experiences and so on, needs to be measurable. This helps you identify what works the best for business growth and focus on doubling down on the same.
Here are some numbers you see the impact of a good post-purchase experience on:
1. Increase in customer lifetime value
Optimizing your post-purchase experience, you’ll find an increase in customer lifetime value (LTV). Customer lifetime value is defined as the average cumulative value of a buyer’s purchase. If you’re giving your customers a great buying experience, offering new discounts and deals, and prompting them to use your services again, all the repeat purchases will increase LTV.
2. Increase in the number of traffic sources
If you’re seeing an increase in your customer retention, you'll see a rise in different sources, such as referrals, email, or direct accounts. When you look at the pie chart in Google Analytics, you’ll find those traffic channels taking up larger slices than before, which signifies a healthy, booming business.
3. Increase in average rating
Customers only leave a review when they feel their voices are heard and the business is looking out for them. If they feel connected with your business or your products, they will leave a review, whether they feel satisfied or dissatisfied. When you provide excellent products and experiences to your customers and ask them for a review, they will likely leave a positive review. The negative and positive reviews give other or new customers confidence in your business as they can see that you take accountability and responsibility.
4. Increase in conversion rate
Your conversion rate will also increase with repeat purchases and high ratings. Making customers happy means they will most likely use your services again, ultimately positively impacting the conversion rate. An excellent post-purchase experience will increase your conversion rate to a staggering 27.62% compared to the 2.01% sitewide average.
Is it time to focus on post-purchase experiences?
If you aren’t sure whether post-purchase experience optimization is important to you or not, start by taking a look at the reviews or feedback buyers have shared. Take note of any dips in the quality of the reviews or slow down in engagement - they are the first indicators of consumers losing interest in what you have to offer.
You can also take a look at more immediate and revenue impacting numbers like refund requests, returns, chargebacks or the disputes raised over a period of time. If you see the numbers increasing by the day, make sure you prioritize the post-purchase experience you offer to customers.
Take the first step towards creating a positive post-purchase experience.