Customer experience is top of mind for just about every retailer hoping to survive and thrive in today's incredibly competitive and difficult economic environment.

But while many retailers focus on topics like personalisation and minimising the number of steps in the purchase journey, they shouldn't forget that an important part of overall customer experience is the post-purchase experience they deliver.

According to Narvar, a customer experience platform provider, "a retailer’s ability to make the post-purchase experience seamless can be the difference between a one-time transaction and a loyal, repeat customer."

As part of the company's State of Post-Purchase Experience Report, it polled more than 1,000 adult consumers in the US who have made a purchase online in the past year.

It found that almost half (49%) worry about their packages being damaged in transit, and an almost equal percentage (42%) don't believe their packages will be delivered on time.

On-time delivery is critical to building repeat customer relationships. 60% of those surveyed indicated that they are more likely to make a purchase from a retailer that can give them a firm delivery date, and 72% indicated receiving a package when it is supposed to be delivered was the number one factor in making another purchase from the same retailer in the future.

The second most important thing retailers can do to encourage repeat business is to make the return process easy. Although there is a lot of emphasis on the ability to return purchases in-store among omnichannel retailers, 60% of the consumers said they prefer to have the ability to print a shipping label and send items back on their own.

That percentage jumps to nearly two-in-three (73%) for consumers who make many online purchases.

Making the right investments

Narvar's study hints at why Amazon has been investing so much in supply chain management and building out its own logistics network, going so far as to invest in creating its own air cargo network.

Unfortunately for Amazon's competitors, consumers are holding all retailers to a higher standard today. As the company explained...

The ‘Amazon Effect,’ the idea that Amazon’s fast and free shipping approach allows the company to differentiate itself and capture greater market share, is no longer exclusive to Amazon. Shoppers today hold all retailers (including Amazon) to the same high standards for the post-purchase experience.

Retailers that are able to create effortless and engaging experiences after customers click buy have an opportunity to increase sales and customer loyalty.

Interestingly, Narvar's study also suggests that retailers might be investing in areas that consumers don't see tangible value in, such as post-purchase personalisation.

For example, "when asked what information would make them more satisfied with a purchase, 61% of people said ‘a simple thank you’ matters most, more so than including personalized recommendations, information on how to use the product better, or examples of how others are using the product."

While this doesn't mean that retailers shouldn't make investments in areas like personalisation, the numbers make it clear: post-purchase, retailers get the most bang for their buck long-term by focusing on the basics, namely making sure that packages get to customers on time and that customers have an easy way to return items they don't want.

Further reading:

Patricio Robles

Published 26 January, 2017 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (3)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

Re: "60% of the consumers said they prefer to have the ability to print a shipping label and send items back on their own."

Printing is actually very annoying. Please just include a stick-on return label in the box. It doesn't make me return things more often, but it does mean I'm happier to buy again.

And triggered emails make a huge difference. I really appreciate being told the exact delivery time. And receiving personalized reminders about hotel or flight bookings, especially if they include useful information such as the local weather, check-in times, and a live feed of the supplier's twitter account so get warning of any problems.

10 months ago

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Matt Lovell, Head of Customer Insight at Jack Wills

The post purchase communications part is increasingly important but I'd argue it's getting the level right though too - what is critical for me to send to the customer rather than what things could I send. Take an example where you buy something and pay via paypal, I've had scenarios where I've received emails to say:-

1) I've place the order
2) Confirmation from Paypal that the money has gone out
3) I've been signed up to an account (could this not have been flagged as part of the email confirmation if entirely necessary?)
4) That my order is now being processed
5) That my order had been processed and was preparing to be shipped (yet no information about when it would be shipped)
6) Four separate emails about delivery telling me that it would be collected by X company, that the things I ordered would all be in my delivery and that delivery was under way (still no delivery date!)
7) That it was out for delivery, due to arrive soon and then had arrived (the item fitted through my letterbox so this seemed a little excessive)
8) A survey to ask how the delivery was
9) Another survey to ask if I would buy with them again
10) In amongst these, some promotional comms to get me to buy again

Conversely to that, having bought two items from a company in another recent transaction, I got a single email telling me the order had been delivered despite only one item being delivered because the other wasn't yet in stock (information I had to source as the company weren't inclined to provide).

To me it's about looking at what the customer wants / needs post purchase and facilitating this in the least excessive manner possible...

10 months ago

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum Ltd

spot on Matt: it's still the Customer Journey even post-sale: and warrants all the care and attention that customer journeys do.

10 months ago

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