The growth of e-commerce recently has been staggering. In 2020 alone, there was a 46.1% year-on-year increase in internet retail sales value in the UK. Of course, many consumers have been forced to shop online as a result of the pandemic, but this growth was still apparent before the pandemic struck.

In such a highly competitive market it is important to differentiate your business, and the way in which to do this is by creating memorable moments through refining the customers’ online experience. Building a standout post-sales experience or post-purchase strategy and delivering personalized communications will grab attention and spark loyalty towards your brand.  

Brands should end their post-purchase silence and engage with customers 

An image showing a vendor and a customer having a friendly interaction as a part of the post purchase strategy.

Through ordering from the UK’s 50 leading direct to consumer (DTC) brands, parcelLab have revealed some stark shortcomings in their offerings to their customers. Offering the customer choice, providing clear and proactive communications should be a priority. However, our findings show that this is not currently the case.  

Just 20% of brands offered the consumer a choice of carrier. Moreover, 38% provided a next-day delivery option. At the same time, the DTC report found that just 10% of retailers offered click & collect turnover, which is forecasted to soar in the UK to an estimated £10 billion by 2023. It is paramount to offer the customer choice and ensure that delivery is not a barrier to sales. By providing the customer with convenience through choice you can expect to see fewer cases of cart abandonment. 

Tackling untapped communication opportunities 

Significant resources are required to capture the interest of a customer in the first place, but generally, once checkout is complete, communication from the business to the customer breaks off. This represents a huge opportunity for businesses, and it is a mistake not to capitalise on it. Each touchpoint of the order process is a chance for the brand to differentiate itself and leave a lasting positive image in the mind of the customer.  

Greater emphasis should therefore be on providing a refined and personalised experience to encourage customer loyalty as well as retention – in turn creating a cycle of engagement and re-engagement between the business and customer. The customer experience post-purchase matters just as much as the product and those factors that engaged your customers in the first place.  The complete experience is what your brand will be remembered for in the long run. 

The customer journey does not end at checkout 

Guiding your customers through the entire sales journey allows brands to leverage and maximise every customer touchpoint, including the notoriously painful process of returns. This was another failure uncovered in the DTC report, with the average return processing time taking 14 days.  

Furthermore, only 30% of brands notified their customers when they had received their return at their processing location. There was a widespread lack of flexibility that only serves to cause further inconvenience for the customer, with 80% of brands offering only one method of return. It is clear – the returns process generally remains an unnecessarily lengthy and infuriating process for the customer and retailers must strive to improve this.  

Simplifying the process of a post-purchase strategy

Communication during the returns stage was almost completely forgotten about. Steps to improve this aspect include promoting paperless returns and communicating the required information via email. Simplifying this process through digitisation – while not only being a more sustainable option – will also help to reduce costs and recover revenue through using this channel of communication to suggest alternative products.  

It is also important to offer the customer as many options as possible to return their order, while also directly informing the customer when the return has been received, and when they can expect their refund. Returns remain one of the biggest blockers in online shopping, so businesses must ensure they do all they can to make returns as easy and seamless as possible for the customer by creating a post-purchase strategy.  

Businesses have had to operate in some extraordinary circumstances recently. External factors such as the global supply chain crisis and delays due to COVID and Brexit have often meant that delays and shortages are unavoidable. This only reinforces the importance of providing your customer with a first-class online shopping experience, and proactively informing the customer of any delays, at all stages of the journey. The customer must be at the head of everything and curating this experience will be the differentiating factor that will promote loyalty and trust. 

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