It’s amazing how the post purchase experience gained importance in such a short time. Although we may no longer be in the thick of the pandemic, the effects will probably be felt for quite some time. Consumers have come to expect home delivery on their own terms, while retailers have come to understand that pleasing customers and improving retention is highly dependent on a positive post purchase experience.
Between lockdowns, quarantines and limited public gatherings, people got used to being at home most of the time and were basically ready to receive shipments any time of day. In the post pandemic era, people are no longer waiting at home for their deliveries.
Today, post purchase customer expectations remain high but it’s no longer only about how fast an item can be shipped, but rather relying on the retailer’s promises to receive a package according to the consumer’s choice of delivery. On-time delivery is one of the keys to ensuring a successful post purchase customer journey. It’s also essential for increasing brand loyalty and attracting new customers.
What Defines the Post Purchase Experience?
When a consumer makes an online purchase there are three basic phases:
This includes all the steps from the time a potential customer accesses the website until they click on the purchase button including product search, filling the shopping cart, selecting shipping options – and anything else leading up to the purchase.
These are the steps involved in the checkout process including entering shipment and payment details, as well as any special instructions regarding the purchase or cost of delivery.
Once the product is paid for, the customer’s post purchase experience begins. This includes all customer communications from purchase through post delivery, keeping customers informed of the shipment status, coordinating package dropoff, product returns and collecting data regarding customer satisfaction.
Since the focus here is on the post purchase customer journey, it starts after the order is placed and continues through every step of delivery, including feedback regarding the customer experience. Post purchase engagement is made up primarily of the following processes:
- Order confirmation
- Delivery scheduling
- Customer status updates
- Customer interaction
- Coordination of last mile delivery/pickup
- Feedback on customer’s post purchase experience
- Product returns and recycling
What is the Importance of Post Purchase Experience?
Consumers have gotten used to delivery, and they’re not going back. To stand out in a digital market flooded with competitors, brands must focus on delivering the best customer experience and delivery is a key part of this experience.
Outside of the online shopping experience, which takes place in the virtual world, deliveries have become the main physical point of connection between brands and consumers. Brands that provide competitive customer experiences will capture market share and retain more customers. 90% of consumers say the post purchase experience is just as important as the quality of the products, while 86% of consumers won’t return to an online marketplace after two negative experiences.
During the pandemic, new customer expectations were established. Whether it’s retailers, grocers or restaurants, today everybody needs to deliver on their promises. If a package is supposed to arrive at 6:00 AM on a Monday morning – then it has to be there at 6:00 AM on Monday morning. Keeping customers informed at all times brings loyalty points for early deliveries, mitigates the damage of late deliveries and enhances the overall post purchase satisfaction.
From a business perspective, there are also significant cost savings that can be realized during the customer’s post purchase experience. This is where most of the WISMO (where is my order) communication happens. When customers are proactively kept up to date regarding the status of their order and delivery, it prevents potential calls and emails that otherwise would need to be handled by the support team.
The promise to deliver on-time is crucial all round, but at certain times of year, such as holiday season, it is even more critical. This is why it’s so important for retailers to make sure they have the necessary resources and technologies to ensure timely delivery and customer communications especially during peak seasons.
How Can Retailers Ensure a Good Post Purchase Experience?
Customer experience management is the key to a superior post purchase customer journey. Here are a few essentials for retailers looking to take control over post purchase experience:
Accurate, Real-Time Order Tracking
Customers must be provided with end-to-end visibility throughout the entire fulfillment process. This helps reassure them that their order will be in their hands and ready to use as planned. Branded web based, in-app and cellular notifications should update customers regarding where their shipment is in transit, when it’s supposed to be delivered or ready for pickup.
To cut down on customer support costs, many of these messages can be automated and triggered by events such as an item leaving the warehouse, arriving at the regional distribution center and being loaded on the truck for last mile delivery.
Owning Post Purchase Branding
The post purchase experience has a strong influence on customer loyalty. After taking control of the post purchase journey, retailers need to make sure their positive customer experience is associated with their brand.
This can be especially challenging when multiple brands are sold on third-party marketplaces. Brands such as Nike bring customers to marketplaces such as Amazon. Problems arise when asking the critical question of who owns the customer relationship? In this case, Nike was willing to forego the revenue from its relationship with Amazon and establish its ecommerce platform to own the end-to-end customer experience.
Continuous Customer Updates
Branded updates and tracking are a great way to increase customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. Likewise, tracking of customer communications is a great way to evaluate the post purchase customer experience and collect post-delivery customer feedback.
This not only provides information that can help improve the post purchase experience, but shows customers their purchase isn’t just a transaction – it’s about building a relationship where both brands and consumers are involved.
Using Returns to Invest in Relationships
Returns are a fact of life in ecommerce with over 20% of online orders ending in product return. Instead of concentrating on the short term loss on profit margins, retailers need to look at the long term customer retention and repeat purchases.
That’s why leading online retailers go beyond short term considerations and emphasize the post purchase experience as it relates to customer care and value. When retailers go the extra mile by offering convenient return options, they’re actually implementing a post purchase marketing strategy.
Establishing Loyalty Programs
According to Forbes, “by getting consumers to invest more in their own brand loyalty, they’ll be more likely to redeem rewards, pay with points and engage with the brand — a win-win for all involved.” Positive post purchase experiences help build customer loyalty, and should be reinforced with a customer loyalty program that keeps top customers coming back for more.
To improve the post purchase experience, data should be used to evaluate and improve the customer journey. Integration of multiple IT systems is necessary to collect the data that’s required to effectively analyze the customer experience.
To accurately evaluate post-purchase success, retailers need to collect both real-time customer and performance data, as well as post-delivery feedback. Customer feedback can be collected through a business’s customer experience application, push notifications, or email, to name a few ways.
Real-time customer and performance data should include return rates, shopping cart abandonment rate, number of missed or failed deliveries. Analyzing this data determines pain points in the post purchase customer journey and the best ways to improve it.
Delivery Management Platform (DMP) – Enables Positive Post Purchase Experience
Retailers need to keep their delivery promises. This requires a combination of customer experience management backed by technology that can enable the features, tracking and analysis that are needed to take control of the post purchase experience.
DMPs provide the end-to-end visibility and delivery updates that help improve customer satisfaction. They can also integrate data from multiple sources to provide a full picture of the post purchase customer journey for evaluation and analysis.
Customer feedback and real time data that is essential for improving post purchase engagement, is also a feature of leading DMPs. This data can show how certain delivery methods and partners are affecting post purchase customer satisfaction.