Why the secret to converting that one-time shopper into lifelong brand advocate lies in the post-purchase experience

20th Aug 2019
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When a customer presses that buy button, most online retailers do a small happy dance.


And why not! After all, so much thought and effort has gone into convincing the customer to make the purchase. However, an email from an irate customer lurking in your inbox is all takes to change your mood. 


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Whether it’s your fault or not, it is most likely that the customer will not shop with you again. Because today’s customers expect retailers to be proactive and responsible in every step of the journey right from the time an order is placed.


The opportunity that lies beyond the ‘buy’ button


“Traditionally, e-commerce retailers think that a customer journey ends once they hit the buy button, whereas the reality is that the most important part of the experience occurs afterwards,” says Amit Sharma, CEO, Narvar. Founded in 2012, Narvar helps over 600 retailers worldwide tap the growth opportunity that comes by delivering a seamless post-purchase experience. Post-purchase experiences are simple yet effective experiences that retailers can enable once the customer makes the purchase – from flexible delivery options, real-time tracking, to easy returns.


Amit points to the results of a Narvar study involving 2,000 consumers to substantiate the significance of the post-purchase experience. According to this study, 81 percent of respondents affirmed that they are more likely to be loyal to brands and retailers who offer a range of convenient and flexible delivery options, and 60 percent said they value retailers who continue to communicate with them even after they’ve bought something.


Before you brush off this finding as yet another marketing study or industry finding, think again. Because, the fact is that most of these learnings and findings have real-world implications. If you look around, you will see that some of the fast-growing businesses are reaping the benefits of tapping into this ‘new opportunity.’


The blind spot: Why real-time updates are more than just delivery status


Today, one of the first things that you do as a retailer on receiving an order request, is to send out a simple confirmation email with your customer care details. You assume that by informing the customer, the job is complete. But the reality is otherwise. Today, customers want to stay informed on their order status in real-time. That said, sharing real-time updates is not just about meeting a customer’s need to stay updated about their order, but also doubles up as an opportunity to strengthen the customer relationship. As Amit explains, “Every time a customer checks in on a delivery, the retailer is presented with a whole new opportunity to re-engage and inspire more purchases.”


One simple step but a huge leap in brand trust


It’s one thing to provide real-time updates and it’s another thing to be able to meet customer requests that stem out of them. One such ask that’s on the rise is the flexibility to schedule delivery changes. With everyone leading fast-paced lives, it’s only likely that the customer may not be available when the courier knocks on her door. In situations like this, customers want retailers to provide them with a choice to pick up the product from a pickup centre or reschedule the delivery date as opposed to dealing with multiple calls to resolve the missed delivery. This helps to reinforce the trust that the customer has already placed in the brand.


When things go wrong, you can still win


In spite of your best efforts, things can still go wrong. Delayed orders, damaged packaging, all of these are all part of the game as much as fulfilled orders. However, the difference is that the former can get really frustrating for the customer as much as it can for you as a retailer. While many of these incidents may be out of your control, how you react in such circumstances reflects how much you value customers. 58 percent of customers value knowing when their order has been delayed or when their order is undeliverable. Thus, it becomes important to be transparent and to keep the customer informed real-time even when things go wrong. 


Why returns and refunds can be a competitive advantage


Another pain point for both parties is returns and refunds. Even though retailers understand that returns today are considered inherent to online shopping, the manual process makes it frustrating and disappointing. The situation is worse for retailers, as returns have additional financial implications, such as shipping and handling costs and even lost products.


This is why a self-serve returns process that provides full visibility into the process, including the date when the package would be picked up, when it would make its way to the retailer's warehouse and the refund status, helps retailers gain customer trust. Good returns can drive loyalty, reveals a Narvar study. The survey states that 96 percent of consumers would shop with a retailer again based on the ease of the returns experience. All this makes a strong case for retailers to capture revenue by making returns effortless and self-serve for customers, with full visibility into return and refund status.


Everyday purchases or year-end sales: Post-purchase strategy is the key


Each of these strategies, individually and cumulatively, helps win customer loyalty. It plugs gaps at the retailer’s end that not only helps the businesses grow on a day-to-day basis, but also helps to cash in on sales. Even though sales are the busiest time of the year, there is no change in customer expectations. It has been an industry observation that as the order volumes skyrocket during sales, so does the frustration faced by online shoppers. The issues range from missing shipping information, difficulty with returns, miscalculated delivery dates and so on.  


An increasing number of retailers around the world are investing in customer experience platform like Narvar to simplify post-purchase customer experiences, to drive sales, foster loyalty and transform that single transaction into a repeat customer.





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