Why the Post-Purchase Customer Experience is So Important Today

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Getting someone to buy from your brand for the first time can be one of the great challenges an ecommerce business will face. Getting that person to return to your online store and make repeat purchases can be equally as difficult.

With so many options available today to consumers, how do you stand out? Being able to earn repeat business starts at the post-purchase stage. Here are a few convincing stats on why this stage is worth revisiting for your brand:

  • Repeat customers have a higher Average Order Value (AOV) and are found to spend 67% more than first-time customers.
  • Repeat customers are much easier to sell to with a 65% chance of converting versus 13% for first-time customers.
  • Acquiring new customers can cost up to 16-times more than selling to customers already in your base. Which drives home the point of making a post-purchase impression that stands out to your customers.

Revamping your current post-purchase experience could lead to happier, more engaged customers that want to come back for more.

5 ways to improve your post-purchase experience

If you’re ready to elevate your post-purchase customer experience, start with my five suggestions below. These are simple but effective ways to improve your experience without much lift from your marketing team.

1. Give customers the option of email and SMS.

The gold standard in ecommerce has always been to send out order confirmation emails immediately following a purchase. While this is still effective today, you could turn it up a notch by pairing email with SMS and giving customers the option to opt-in for both communications.

With consumers on their phones now more than ever, SMS has emerged as a top marketing, sales, and customer service channel. In fact, 79% of consumers said in a recent survey that they’d be open to interacting with brands via SMS, and most said they’d choose SMS over email.

Giving customers the option to choose between email, SMS, or both channels to receive post-purchase information like shipping and tracking, coupon codes, new item arrivals, and other communications can be a gold mine for your brand.

2. Welcome new customers with a promo or discount.

While your first-time customers wait for their orders to arrive, send them a promotion or discount offer as a way to nudge them toward future purchases. You can do so by sending a welcome email and even pair it with SMS for maximum engagement.

Even if new customers don’t opt-in for your newsletter, you can still offer them a discount once their order arrives. Simply slip a coupon card in their box and let them know their next purchase with your brand will be discounted.

For new email subscribers, this can all be automated via email. You can even set a threshold for discount types. For example, if a customer spends $150 or more, they’ll receive a 20% discount on their next purchase.

Whichever route you choose, just know that offering welcome promos and discounts is a great way to set the foundation for customer loyalty–which means repeat purchases.

3. Send automated replenishment reminders.

If you’re a brand that relies on monthly recurring orders or subscriptions (like supplements, cosmetics, and pet food), you cannot miss out on the opportunity to send replenishment reminders. These reminders can be sent via email, SMS, or both channels to ensure your customers know it’s time to re-up on their products.

Replenishment emails have an average open-rate of 50-60% and a click-through rate of 40-50%, which makes this a high-conversion opportunity for your brand with very low effort from your marketing team. Plus, your customers will appreciate the helpful reminder. It’s a win-win.

Even better, this post-purchase strategy can be fully automated. You can set time-based triggers that send every month or so, or you can set triggers based on customer inactivity. For example, if a customer who is normally active with your brand hasn’t visited in a while, you can nudge them with a replenishment reminder.

Pro tip: Unresponsive customers? One of the best follow-up email strategies is to sweeten the deal with a discount code. Make sure you call out the discount in your email subject line to increase its open-rate. Even a 15% discount can be the difference between a bounce and a conversion.

4. Create a loyalty or rewards program.

Your checkout page is a great space to kick off a good post-purchase experience. What better way to get customers excited about their orders, plus incentivize them for future purchases than by creating a loyalty or rewards program? Below is an example of how to bake this program into your checkout system.

A staggering 69% of consumers said their buying decisions were influenced by whether or not they could earn points or loyalty rewards from their purchases. If your customers are happy to exchange their email or phone number for loyalty points, why not give them the option?

The best part is that you don’t have to create these programs yourself. There are already plenty of loyalty management tools available today that can easily integrate with your online store. Listed below are some of the top ones based on customer satisfaction, features, and ease-of-use:

  • Smile
  • Yotpo
  • LevelUp
  • Belly
  • Fivestars

Many of these tools even give the customer the option to use however points they want during a purchase (if they don’t want to spend all at once). This is typically done with a slider mechanism, similar to what you see in the image above.

Giving customers this level of control in the post-purchase stage with the opportunity to be rewarded later will make them more satisfied with their orders and drive them back for future purchases.

5. Simplify your return process.

In a perfect world, every customer would be satisfied with what they purchased and your brand would have a zero return-rate. The reality is:

  • Items could get damaged in transit
  • Your customer found a better deal elsewhere
  • Your item looked different online than in person

In fact, data suggests that up to 16% of all online orders will be returned. It’s the cost of doing business in the world of ecommerce, but you can still use this as an opportunity to improve your post-purchase experience by simplifying your return process.

Make it as easy as possible for customers to return or exchange their items. Don’t handcuff them into keeping your product if they’re not satisfied. You not only risk a poor customer review, but you hurt the chances of them purchasing from you again. They may even tell their experience to their peers, something you can’t track online.

Here are a few key tips for improving your return process:

  • Have your return policy clearly displayed
  • Offer free shipping on all returns or exchanges
  • Provide email or SMS status updates on a customer’s return

If your brand offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee, you cannot overlook returns or exchanges in this guarantee. Whether they keep or return their items is all part of the post-purchase stage.

The Final Word

Ecommerce marketers invest so much time into new content, new campaigns, and new initiatives, that it’s easy to gloss over what happens after a customer places an order.

Use this article as a sign to carve out time on your calendar to audit your current post-purchase experience. Find opportunities to make this experience better for your customers. Whether that means offering free shipping on all returns, enrolling customers into rewards programs, or utilizing SMS as a communications channel.

Even small progress on your post-purchase stage can have a big impact on customer satisfaction and retention. Give any of the five strategies in this article a try, and let us know how it worked out!

Devin Pickell
Devin Pickell is a Growth Marketing practitioner with vast experience collaborating with content, product, and customer success teams to grow website traffic and demand.

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