Improving Your Post-Purchase Experience: The Unofficial Guide

As customer acquisition in the eCommerce sphere becomes more and more difficult, many retail businesses are shifting their attention to optimization and retention — and one of the best ways to encourage repeat customers is by providing a personal and streamlined post-purchase experience.

What is the post-purchase experience? 

The post-purchase experience refers to the final phase of the buying journey, which occurs after a customer has pressed the buy button and completed their purchase. This stage might include asking for feedback, offering product suggestions, or handling the return and exchange process.

A poor post-purchase experience can be defined by a number of factors, including shipping delays, poor communication on the part of the business, and product expectation dissonance. All of these experiences add friction to a moment in the customer journey that should, ideally, go unnoticed by the consumer. 

When it comes to fostering customer loyalty and boosting LTV, the importance of a smooth post-purchase experience can’t be overstated — in fact, while 79% of shoppers say that it’s important their post-purchase experiences be positive, we’ve found that only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations.

What do online shoppers want out of the customer experience? 

As we’ve seen, several factors can negatively impact a customer’s post-purchase experience, including shipping delays and poor communication on the business side of things, especially as it relates to shipping. 

The stakes are high when it comes to bad post-purchase experience, especially in today’s highly competitive eCommerce market. Customers have a diverse set of options when spending their money, so switching brands can be frictionless — it’s up to you to provide a flawless post-purchase experience. 

Ultimately, it’s about saving money as well. For eCommerce businesses, retention is 5 times cheaper than acquisition on average. A smooth and streamlined post-purchase experience is one of the best ways of reducing churn and saving money on earning back customers, while also creating a brand built around trust and loyalty that will entice new customers. 

How easy is it to lose existing customers? According to our research, 73% of customers will not return after a poor delivery experience, which is all the more reason to take charge of your shipping and guarantee it’s as reliable and trustworthy as possible. 

4 Factors that create an amazing post-purchase experience

Keeping these factors in mind while designing your post-purchase experience and overall marketing strategy will ensure they’re as effective as possible. 

  1. Communication. Our research shows that 99% of consumers expect post-purchase communication from their retailers. Most of the time, that means taking an omnichannel approach and keeping them up to date on the delivery status of their item, and collaborating with them if an issue arises. UrbanStems invested in their communication capabilities, leading to a 63% reduction in WISMO calls
  2. Transparency. Make clear to your customers how the shipping process is working by offering a branded tracking page. This prevents them from encountering friction on a carrier’s website, and can even drive revenue due to lightweight merchandising capabilities., for instance, brought greater supply chain visibility to their customers, boosting engagement
  3. Management. While communication and transparency are important values, getting them to work together in a clearly managed system is even more important. Technology like Delivery Experience Management can offer retailers predictive analytics, preemptive action, and impressive synchronization. UncommonGoods took advantage of active management to offer proactive customer support. 
  4. Offer refunds and returns. If things do go wrong, make sure you’re offering refunds, a clear return policy, and other forms of credit. At the same time, make sure your return policy and refund process are easy to understand and simple. Online retailer Living Direct optimized their returns and saved 34%, all while increasing positive customer responses

How to respond when delivery realities can’t meet expectations

Obviously, you’ll sometimes encounter delivery exceptions that delay a shipment. Part of fostering a strong post-purchase experience is creating a high expectation and meeting it, so it can be difficult to manage expectations and make up for a delayed shipment when it occurs. 

In fact, a delivery exception is a great opportunity to turn a negative experience into a positive one, taking the pressure off your marketing team by demonstrating to your customers that you can handle and quickly correct any shipping problems, which in turn will help reduce post-purchase anxiety in the future. 

For the most part, after you’ve shipped an item, it’s out of your hands, which is why managing that experience can be so challenging. Delivery Experience Management is the art of proactively ensuring that your customers get their orders how and when they expect, taking intelligent action to correct issues along the way and continuously communicating to uphold brand promises.

UncommonGoods gets much of it’s business during the holidays, a particularly stressful time for shipments. Leveraging Delivery Experience Management, they put in effect an active strategy to deal with delivery exceptions — if an item was bound to miss its delivery date, UncommonGoods quickly worked with the carrier to stop the item in transit, alert the customer, and expedite a new package out so that no holiday was ruined. 

Boll & Branch discovered new revenue by integrating their shopy order feed and their carrier data, allowing for closer collaboration between their logistics and customer service teams. This increased visibility allowed them to resolve issues with their carriers in their platform, reducing customer resolution times by 66%. 

Strategies to improve the post-purchase experience this week, this month, and this year

In both the short and long term, there are several strategies you can begin implementing to optimize your brand’s post-purchase experience.

  1. Personalize your requests for customer feedback. Figuring out what experiences customers value most can help marketers fine tune the development process and increase customer satisfaction. To encourage a higher response rate, personalize your requests and offer credits.
  2. Offer informational product content. Depending on the service and product you provide, it might be worthwhile to follow up with customers by sending them pieces of branded informational content (including faqs) that highlight how to care for recent purchases or introduce them to new products that might be relevant to their needs. 
  3. Clarify and simplify your returns process. Returning an item is probably one of the most active things a customer can do during the post-purchase process. Don’t exacerbate any of their negative feelings by providing a confusing or laborious returns process. Make it simple and clear, and earn their trust. 
  4. Incorporate new technologies. With the right technology, you can generate precise and accurate estimated delivery dates (EDDs), design intuitive real-time tracking pages, leverage automation to send omnichannel alerts when shipping status changes, and manage your interactions with carriers to ensure that everything after the order confirmation goes smoothly.

How To Measure Post-Purchase Strategy Improvements 

With so many eCommerce retailers to choose from, customer acquisition has become more and more difficult. As a result, many retailers have turned to lifetime value (LTV) as a key metric, focusing on building customer loyalty and encouraging repeat purchases. Emphasizing the post-purchase experience is one of the main ways of delivering a higher LTV.

LTV will be one of your key profit metrics as you examine post-purchase strategy improvements, but you’ll also see improvements in your net promoter score (NPS), which gauges customer loyalty. Companies that demonstrate responsiveness and reliability throughout the post-purchase experience often see loyalty booms of as much as 6%

Tied to LTV and NPS is customer retention. A poor delivery experience is one of the main drivers of customer churn, so investing in a more streamlined post-purchase experience is one of the best ways to increase customer retention. From there, all three metrics combine to drive revenue growth.

Future Trends in Post-Purchase 

When we think about where eCommerce is headed, we often talk about the Amazon effect — the ways in which Amazon’s evolution of the eCommerce space has create a set of high customer expectations that other retailers must meet.

As eCommerce continues to expand this year, online competition will only grow as brands fine tune their delivery options and focus on the last mile. In turn, managing and maintaining customer expectations — and by extension, your customer base — will only get more important.