Three Ways Retailers Can Harness the Post-Purchase Experience

By Tobias Buxhoidt

Trends within the industry are ever-changing, and by using an operations experience management platform to harness valuable data points to personalize all aspects of the customer journey, brands can more easily adapt to changes in the future.

Ed. Note: This article was previously posted at Retail TouchPoints.

A recent focus on digital strategy in ecommerce has changed what the customer journey looks like, from how brands attract customers to how they continue to reach them after a purchase. The pandemic has shifted post-purchase expectations—consumers expect a more personalized, relevant-to-them experience that goes beyond checkout. For retailers, this creates ample opportunity to engage their customers using untapped touch points.

Fulfilment, shipping, delivery and returns updates can all be enriched with personalized promotions, loyalty program information and other immersive, branded content. A recent study found that 63 percent of U.S. consumers are deeply invested in the post-purchase journey, proving that now is the time for brands to leverage these opportunities with their customers.

Owning the customer journey from start to finish allows brands to differentiate themselves through an engaging experience, especially as supply chain issues continue to disrupt fulfillment and create delays. Managing the customer journey properly via the implementation of technologies, brands can identify new opportunities, keep communications consistent and unlock undiscovered opportunities throughout post-purchase.

By personalizing all aspects of the customer journey, brands can more easily adapt to changes in the future.

By personalizing all aspects of the customer journey, brands can more easily adapt to changes in the future.

It All Comes Down to Data

In the era of digitization and information, data is everything. When gathered and analyzed properly, data can pinpoint and identify critical areas of communication with customers, enabling brands to identify potential issues or areas for improvement. Proactively identifying the moments that cause customers to reach out to a brand, for example, can allow for a brand to pinpoint key touch points in the post-purchase journey when customers need order updates.

In a different vein, zero-party data is a popular buzzword in retail right now as a result of changes around privacy policies. Post-purchase is a way for brands to gather this information directly from customers at their discretion, and harness it to gain valuable insights to what consumers look for during their experience. Implementing post-purchase surveys, experience ratings, or even monitoring how customers are interacting with post-purchase communications gives brands information directly from customers to help them understand what people want.

Brands can also put the power back in customers' hands by allowing them to choose their preferred communication channel. Whether it is getting push notifications through an app, receiving emails or getting text updates, giving customers a choice in how they interact with your brand will vastly improve each individual experience.

Using this information, brands can tailor future promotional communications to fit customer preference and optimize customer relationships. The right technology, such as an operations experience management platform, can help brands to better understand the data they're given. It's not enough to solely collect the data. It needs to be cleaned, harmonized and analyzed before it can be actionable.

Keep Customers Coming Back for More

Proactive communication is especially important in the post-purchase journey. To start, understanding the moments that your customers are the most invested in can help tailor the post-purchase experience to create a stronger connection between the customer and your brand.

A recent report found that 90 percent of customers want brands to engage with them during delivery, making this a critical time for both the brand and customers to identify issues and delays, and according to Microsoft, 96 percent of consumers worldwide say customer service is an important factor for brand loyalty. This shows the desire for communication across the board.

If a brand can answer questions and proactively communicate when an issue or delay arises, they are providing the exemplary customer care people are looking for. Continuing active communication in the post-purchase proves to customers that a brand cares about them and is available to answer their questions and needs, creating a positive customer relationship for the future.

Every interaction a brand has with a customer is an additional touch point that builds upon the customer's experience. Sending personalized recommendations, providing product tutorials and informing people about how to recycle their packaging and more are just a few ways brands can continue the conversation to build lasting relationships.

The shopping journey is highly impacted by customers' emotions, as recent data found that 49 percent of U.S. consumers will unsubscribe completely from marketing content if they are incorrectly targeted by marketing outreach. Recognizing a customer's preferences and catering to them during fulfillment, shipping, delivery and returns creates relationship-building moments to encourage future purchases. Creating new and engaging touch points with updates people want in the post-purchase will create the personalized experience people want.

Express Your Brand

With each customer conversation, brand consistency is key, especially in the post-purchase process. Implementing technologies that allow you to have control over your customers' brand experience throughout the post-purchase means they aren't being directed to third-party or carrier's websites when checking on their order. Instead, brands can offer embedded, immersive experiences to keep their brand top of mind at every point of contact.

According to Semrush, shipping companies such as UPS and USPS are among the top 50 websites visited every year. By sending customers to these third-party sites to track an order, brands are missing out on a key opportunity to create another relationship-building touch point with their customer.

According to recent data, 31 percent of customers don't want to be sent to a carrier's website, showing growing customer sentiment to keep communications limited to only the brand they're shopping from. Giving customers in-webstore order tracking brings them back again and again to the brand's site. So now every touch point becomes shoppable—helping brands realize their growth and revenue goals.

Ensuring customers that they will get the same personalized experience each time they shop is a huge part of building brand loyalty and encouraging repurchases. Brands can take control over this part of the customer experience by using branded, personalized emails to curate a consistent brand experience and sending customers to an in-webstore order tracking page when they are looking for updates on their purchase. This is paramount in fostering the important relationship between the brand and its customers.

Create Lasting Loyalty in the Post-Purchase

Providing a meaningful experience for customers in 2022 will be crucial to retailers' success as trends within the ecommerce space evolve. The customer journey during order fulfillment, shipping, delivery and returns carries so much untapped potential for brands to connect with their customers to build brand loyalty and drive customers back to shop again. Creating connections during the post-purchase experience is crucial for brands to see return on their customer relationships and achieve the best ROI on the high costs of customer acquisition.

Trends within the industry are ever-changing, and by using an operations experience management platform to harness valuable data points in order to personalize all aspects of the customer journey, brands can more easily adapt to changes in the future.

Tobias Buxhoidt is the CEO and founder of parcelLab, where he leads global business strategy and is focused on bringing the parcelLab platform to brands across global markets. In 2015 he co-founded parcelLab to create a platform that would help brands build engaging customer experiences around complex operational processes and data.

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