When it comes to customer experience trends, what worked in the ‘90s simply doesn’t cut it for today’s shoppers. People today are hungry for experiences that go far beyond a snazzy website, steeply discounted prices, or constant promos.
Instead, modern consumers want an authentic and engaging experience that stretches from brand discovery to safe delivery. People aren’t so keen to fall for surface-level gimmicks or tactics. Instead, they want to know they’ll be supported, valued, and delighted all the way from first awareness to post-purchase completion. Like a toddler turning into a teenager, you could say online shoppers have grown emotionally since the early days of ecommerce.
However, while most brands are eager to improve their overall customer experience, they forget about one of the most important aspects of the customer journey: the post-purchase experience (PPX). In fact, one report found that 56% of respondents were disappointed with the PPX they received from retailers and ecommerce stores. Additionally, Accenture found that a measly 17% of customers feel that modern businesses care about the post-purchase experience.
That teensy, tiny percentage means that the vast majority of people feel abandoned when it matters most—last-mile delivery and experience. If the PPX is so important to shoppers and is the key to things like loyalty and retention, why are so many brands not hitting the mark? Why does this dissonance still exist, despite the influx of marketing tools at their disposal?
In order to fix something right, you have to know what’s broken. Until recently, what happens after the online checkout has been a bit of a no man’s land. Brands let third-party carriers take control of the customer experience, and carriers point fingers at brands should something go wrong. And in the end, this wishy-washy experience simply hurts shoppers most.
So, what exactly is PPX? Why is it so important for your ecommerce store? What trends should you be taking advantage of to take control and mend what happens past purchase? Let’s dive in.
What Is the Post-purchase Experience?
The definition of this newly minted buzzword, post-purchase experience, is pretty much how it sounds. The PPX encompasses everything your customers experience after they complete their purchase with your store. This includes all communications, images, support, updates, upsells, and the whole of how you treat your customers after they’ve purchased your product or service. Ultimately, it’s a way for you to continue interacting with existing buyers and build a better relationship with them. It’s these existing customers—the ones that have looked at similar products, interacted with your brand, and purchased from you—that you should focus your efforts on.
One survey by Invesp reported that it is five times more expensive to earn a new customer, while increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profits by 95%.
When your brand masters the art of a memorable experience that’s helpful, convenient, friendly, and consistent, you’ll find that you have a lot of customers coming back (and telling their friends all about you). This means that when you shuffle more budget to what happens after purchase and take full control of that historically foggy no man’s land, your loyal customers become brand ambassadors, expanding your reach and stoking brand awareness. Isn’t that the dream?
Looking Back at the Post-purchase Experience and Ecommerce
Before we jump into what makes a good PPX and how it can benefit your business today, let’s chat about how this stage of the customer experience has changed over the years.
In the beginning, PPX was not considered part of the customer journey—it was more of a fleeting afterthought. Most businesses focused their attention on acquisition and conversion, paying little attention to what happened after checkout. If you’re at least an Elder Millennial, think back to the early days of ecommerce.
After battling the dial tone, navigating a sluggish World Wide Web, and trusting this new technology with your banking deets, you sat around for weeks hoping your purchase would make its way to you. And if you needed support after you bought? That 1-800 number on the website came in handy. As far as the brand was concerned, their job was done and the fate of your experience rested with the good ol’ USPS.
Today, PPX is one of the most (if not the very most) important parts of the customer journey when it comes to brand loyalty, retention, order value, and differentiation. After all, it’s the last touchpoint they have with your store, so it only makes sense that what they taste last is what they’ll remember most.
Customers notice when a brand’s PPX is bad—and when they do, they probably won’t be coming back. One survey found that 78% of customers say it’s important for a company’s post-purchase experience to be positive. However, only 1% of consumers felt that vendors met expectations. The disparity between customer needs and what the customer gets has never been greater.
One bad delivery experience with your store can have devastating consequences. Customers have myriad products to choose from, so switching brands after a poor experience isn’t difficult. This is why it’s so important to take your PPX into your own hands. Unfortunately, third-party carriers like UPS, DHL, and FedEx, aren’t invested in your ecommerce brand—and don’t really care what happens to your store. When 73% of customers are unlikely to return after a bad delivery experience, brands have all the more motivation to ensure their PPX is flawless.
Customer acquisition, on-site, and conversion experiences have all evolved in step with the ecommerce industry and mounting customer expectations. What’s the deal with the PPX, and how can online brands bring it into the 21st century?
Post-purchase Experience Trends to Start up in 2022
Here’s the good news: There are accessible, affordable ways to establish and improve your existing (or non-existent?) PPX. Now that you know about the impact of this experience, let’s find how to get started. Here are the first trends to snap up when improving the experience your shoppers get after checkout:
1. Proactive Communication Between Brand and Shopper
In a stark contrast to the ‘90s and the normalcy of placing the burden on customers, 99% of customers today expect some kind of PPX communication from ecommerce brands and retailers. Shoppers are tired of having to take action to find out where their stuff is or when it’s showing up after giving you their hard-earned dough. Whether it’s an email or a text message, customers want to know you’re aware of them and that you’ll update them on the status of their order.
This experience trend means getting proactive and thinking one step ahead of your customers until their purchase is delivered. Not only does this alleviate the anxiety your shopper is stewing in, but it also saves your support team from fielding “Where is my order?” calls all day. This is good news for your time, team, and budget.
Automation tools like Klaviyo and Mailchimp can help you automate thank you and receipt emails, while Route’s post-purchase suite can let customers take control right from their phone. Deploy SMS or push notification updates every step of the way to keep everyone calm and collected. You’ll win the game of proactive communications and your customer will remember how stress-free the experience was.
2. Real-time Tracking for Unstoppable Engagement
Industry leaders like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart have shifted customer expectations around package delivery. They shifted the industry and behaviors to the point where anything longer than 2-day shipping might as well be a lifetime.
Aside from shipping speeds, these enterprise trendsetters have also rendered it so modern consumers expect full visibility and transparency throughout the entire delivery process. Providing customers with real-time tracking fulfills these expectations, relieves some of the burden on your customer support team, and alleviates delivery anxiety.
You might be thinking, “Pffft, yeah. That’s easy for the big dogs to do! I don’t have pockets that deep, though.” And I might be saying that you’re reading an article on a blog for a company that can give you that same toolset for pennies.
Route Track gives you a user-friendly and engaging way to show shoppers where their stuff is in real time. With the Route app, shoppers can check their phone and see all their order details, including a map of their purchase’s journey on its way from warehouse to doorstep. Even though this trend kinda involves the shopper taking matters into their owns hands, they feel engaged and in control of how much info they get and how often.
3. Authentic Engagement That Builds Trust
Simply sending an email or text message to your customers isn’t enough. You have to make a real, sincere connection in order to bolster your PPX. People can feel when a brand isn’t really interested in them, so make sure the messages you’re sending are authentic. Remember, this phase is all about experience. That encompasses not just the information you deliver, but how your brand makes them feel throughout the journey.
4. Package Protection for Added Reassurance
Part of the post-purchase confusion has always been placing responsibility should a package get lost, stolen, or damaged. Merchants want carriers to take responsibility for mishandling a package, and carriers think it’s on the brand to foot a replacement or refund. No matter the abuse a package endures during shipment, the fact is that shoppers expect the brand to make any wrongs right if their purchase isn’t up to snuff.
This sounds like an online store might have to eat a lot of the costs for refunds and replacements, especially as online shopping keeps gaining popularity. In 2022, one post-purchase experience that greatly benefits brands and customers is package protection and shipping insurance.
With Route Protect, package protection is a feature to add to your PPX strategy and alleviate the madness when something goes askew. When woven into your post-purchase strategy, Route Protect lets shoppers choose whether they want their purchase insured or not. This feature insures against your customer having to pay for a replacement and your budget from having to simply eat the loss.
This extra layer of protection provides instant peace of mind, and helps you to resolve issues quickly if something goes wrong.
Tapping into Experience Trends Beefs up Your Bottom Line and Loyalty
Optimizing PPX benefits your brand in a number of ways: Increased loyalty and customer retention, boosted brand recognition, industry trend-setter, higher-order values, greater differentiation among competitors being just a few.
By showing your customers you care about them even after they’ve made a purchase, you give them a reason to continue supporting you. Plus, a positive PPX contributes to their overall opinion of your business and increases the chance they’ll recommend you to friends and family.
Creating a positive PPX should be a top priority for your ecommerce business. This experience shows customers you recognize and understand their needs—and are committed to meeting them.
With Route, you can easily provide customers the transparency and visibility they’ve come to expect. Deliver an exceptional experience to your customers by trying Route today.