Post-purchase experiences: Building loyalty and growing revenue after checkout

By Ian Nadeau on January 12, 2023

Rising acquisition costs and declining consumer spending have ecommerce brands searching for new avenues to avoid a sharp decline in revenue. The inflated prices of acquiring web visitors make it critical that every engagement counts. Traditionally, site visitors that didn’t convert would be retargeted with personalized ads based on their viewing history. With this option becoming less viable, brands have the ability to drive KPIs in real-time when consumers are actively engaged.

You have to have a solution that focuses on results rather than identification.

Debjani Deb, CEO of Session AI 

Ecommerce leaders are finding success with new advances such as in-session marketing. Working on clickstream data and artificial intelligence, in-session marketing is able to predict purchase intent for visitors in real-time. This allows intelligent decisioning that guides the customer journey towards valuable outcomes — making each session count.  

Once visitors make a purchase, you have a distinct opportunity to continue your brand engagement. This is where post-purchase experiences come into play. By continuing to engage with customers after checkout, brands can establish a relationship — helping to build loyalty and grow revenue as they turn one conversion into a repeat customer. 

The majority of retailers (61%) say that customer retention is their biggest obstacle. If these same retailers are able to boost their retention rate by just 5% they would realize a 25% – 100% uptick in the average profit per customer.

Getting those who’ve already converted to reengage with your brand requires a customer journey that goes beyond the checkout process. This is called a post-purchase experience. 

What is a post-purchase experience? 

The post-purchase experience is the part of the journey your customers go through after buying your product or service. Immediately following checkout, consumers are in anticipation. It’s during this time that ecommerce brands should be leveraging the customer’s excitement by offering additional content of value (e.g., earn points on this purchase by signing up for a loyalty program, package tracking, or view similar products).  

When it comes to consumer engagement, consistency is vital. Shoppers expect and respond to routine updates of their order status. With fluctuations in inventory and erratic shipping times being a major frustration for many ecommerce brands, those that are able to effectively communicate order updates can ensure that their customers aren’t surprised if or when a product is delayed — providing a better experience. 

Post-purchase experiences are all about building a strong and continuing relationship between the brand and the consumer. Leveraging proactive communications, branded tracking pages, and digital returns portals, ecommerce sites can develop a loyal customer base — a segment that’s responsible for 65% of a brand’s purchases.  

Proactive communications

Brands that take the initiative to message their customers post-purchase are engaging in proactive communications. Statista states that 70% of global customers prefer proactive brands. Proactive communications can include reaching out to customers with important status updates, getting their thoughts on the purchase experience, or getting the customer more excited about their purchase through customer reviews and how-to tutorials. 

Proactively communicating with your customers post-purchase shows that the brand cares about more than their money. Further, it can help the business avoid potential consumer dissonance by addressing issues before frustration sets in. Each conversation with a consumer can benefit the brand by uncovering areas for improvement and alerting the business to shifting trends and changes in shopping behaviors. 

Developing an open channel of communication with a cadence of transparency allows brands to gain the trust and loyalty of their customers — making it possible to retain consumers in an era of declining brand devotion

Branded tracking pages

Branded tracking pages offer a personalized dashboard for customers to see when to expect their packages. This helps ecommerce sites manage the customer experience rather than sending shoppers to third-party carriers (UPS, FedEx, etc.) — pages that are filled with another’s branding. Another reason to avoid third-party tracking is that customers can feel disconnected from a brand post-purchase if they’re sent to another’s site — leaving them wondering who to ask for help in the event of a shipping issue. 

A Verte survey found that 90% of consumers actively track their shipments, and 20% do so multiple times per day. Having a branded tracking page presents businesses with extra opportunities to engage their consumers.

Additionally, these pages provide promotional space to cross-sell or upsell products, advertise upcoming events, or provide further information about your brand (such as its vision and mission). 

Branded tracking pages also act as a sort of self-service for customers who are anxious about their order as it keeps them informed throughout the entire process. This reduces “where is my order” requests as consumers can readily verify whether their order is on time or has been delayed. Research shows that 57% of consumers are emotionally tied to online purchases and 63% say that fulfillment, shipping, delivery, and returns are where they experience the most emotion during their journey. Having a branded tracking page enables these customers to manage each of these emotional stages in a central hub. 

Digital returns portals 

Trying to avoid returns by making the process more difficult than necessary can result in consumer frustration and destroy any chance of repeat business. Take the 60% of returns on Shopify sites being because the product is the wrong size or style. Brands that have a seamless return experience are dealing with an exchange, while those with a friction-filled experience are more likely to get a refund request. 

Digital returns portals give consumers an on-demand process to make returns or exchanges as simple as possible. Allowing customers to self-serve their returns saves them and your support team time — a benefit that increases in value when patience is low after your customer has waited for a product to arrive only to have to send it back. Simplifying the returns process can also help your customers avoid feeling confused or lost on the steps to take — especially when paired with clear messaging about how and when they should expect an exchange or refund. 

A digital returns portal does more than benefit the customer, it has the potential to impact revenue.

Easy returns processes result in 92% of consumers becoming repeat buyers whereas 84% will never purchase again from a brand after a bad returns experience. Further, consumers who enjoy a great brand experience tend to spend 140% more than those who have a negative one.

This means that making returns seamless can actually increase revenue!

Creating a seamless customer journey

The most important aspect of post-purchase experiences is the creation of a seamless customer journey, from adding to cart to checkout to product delivery. This requires keeping your customers informed with relevant information regarding their purchase — when it’s been shipped, when it will arrive, who to contact in case of questions, and even links to the company’s return policy. It’s important that how you communicate post-purchase doesn’t feel like a sales pitch; after all, the recipient has already bought something. Rather, post-purchase experiences should enhance the product or service with tailored suggestions, FAQs, and other content that helps the consumer feel good about their decision. 

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