How to improve your post-purchase eCommerce strategy

2022-05-23

Written by David Renwick

The importance of the post-purchase experience

You’ve got a steady stream of customers purchasing products from your online store. But how do you get them to come back?

Getting people to buy a product from your online retail store is only part of the journey. The sale isn’t the end point. In fact, it’s the start of an entirely new phase of the customer journey.

This part of the journey is known as post purchase, and it needs to become a core part of your eCommerce strategy. Get the post-purchase experience right, and you’ll have done a lot to lower the chances of what’s known as post-purchase dissonance.

In this article, we’re going to break down what this dissonance means, how you can assess your current post-purchase strategy and look at 5 ways to improve your post-purchase experience.

The dangers of post-purchase dissonance (and how to avoid it)

First things first – what is post-purchase dissonance? Also known as post-purchase stress, post-purchase dissonance is the customer level of dissatisfaction once they’ve purchased a product or service from your eCommerce store. If the product doesn’t meet their expectations, these customers may attempt to get a refund or avoid your store in the future.

It’s certainly something to be aware of. It’s even better if you can put a strategy in place to avoid it happening in the first place.

Many businesses become so focused on everything leading up to the initial purchase that the post-purchase experience gets forgotten about. For many retailers, this behaviour could be costing them.

Post-purchase dissonance shows up in a few different ways:

  • Customers may come across another online store selling the product for less – or find a better value product.
  • A customer might purchase a product and then start reading reviews that put them off.
  • Customers might receive the product and find out that it doesn’t do what they expected.

The effects of this obviously aren’t great – for your customers or for your business. Costly returns processes and dissatisfied customers are not a recipe for success.

Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to avoid post-purchase dissonance in the first place. By taking the time to create a comprehensive post-purchase experience strategy – and mitigating other pre-purchase factors – you can set yourself up for success.

5 ways to improve your post-purchase experience

Your post-purchase experience stretches across your customer buying journey. It starts well before they’ve placed an order and ends even after they’ve received their package in the mail.

This means that any good post-purchase strategy needs to be similarly broad, yet focused. Identify some of the areas where you make impactful changes and track your results.

Some of these strategies will take time to get right, with a lot of tweaking and updating as you learn what works (and what doesn’t).

1. Make sure every product touchpoint up to the sale is strong

This point may seem counterintuitive, but bear with us. A leading factor which contributes to post-purchase dissonance is when a product doesn’t meet expectations. It either doesn’t perform the job as advertised, or it looks different.

So, to create a better post-purchase experience, head back to the purchasing stage of the journey. To start, ensure you have appropriate photography and video where possible, and include all relevant details in item descriptions, as well as measurements. It also helps to provide customer reviews.

2. Provide comprehensive shipping notifications

The last thing customers want once they’ve placed an order is to be left in the dark. With the appropriate permissions, send text and email notifications for every stage of the delivery journey. This means once you’ve confirmed their order, when the tracking number is allocated, the order is out for delivery, key delivery milestones and when it arrives.

Regardless of which mix of channels you decide on, customers will feel at ease simply knowing where their product is. Shipping notifications – especially when they’re branded – are also a great way to show that you care and build brand loyalty.

This is a great time to mention just how useful the right shipping platform can be in helping you to set up and operate branded shipping notifications.

3. Put omni-channel customer support in place

Omni-channel customer support basically just means placing your customer at the centre of your communication strategy. In other words, making it easy for them to access the right information, at the right time and in the right place.

“Omni-channel […] is viewing the experience through the eyes of your customer, orchestrating the customer experience across all channels so that it is seamless, integrated, and consistent.” John Bowden, Time Warner Cable.

Of all the points on our list, creating a true omni-channel strategy is one of the hardest to get right. Our key piece of advice? Work to break down the silos between the different areas of your business, like inventory management and customer service, so the information can flow freely.

4. Create an easy returns process

A returns process shows that your brand is in control of every step of the retail journey. By making it easy for customers to return products, you’ll do a lot to encourage repeat purchases.

Offering multichannel returns, which increases the number of return options, is a good place to start. It's also a good idea to ensure your returns policy is visible. Include it in your store’s main menu to show customers that you have confidence in your products.

Shipping software can do a lot to help – with built-in returns portals making it easy for customers to self-service their own returns and for staff to manage the influx.

5. Develop a loyalty program

Loyalty programs are a proven method of building customer loyalty, but did you know they also have a part to play in creating a better post-purchase experience?

Offering frequent buyers discounts, or membership programs that include free shipping can all do a lot to encourage customers to return to your store.

Wrap up

Creating a solid post-purchase strategy is an important part of an overarching eCommerce strategy. Getting this part of your business right will help you keep customers coming back and remove barriers for new customers.

You’re going to need to utilise a few different types of solution to create a truly robust post-purchase experience, but one tool that can massively simplify the process is a shipping solution like Starshipit. Shipping platforms (like ours) give you the tools for shipping notifications, simplifying returns and making sure packages arrive on time, within budget and to the right address.

Get in touch with the team at Starshipit today to learn more about what it takes to create a great post-purchase experience and how software like ours can help.

David Renwick

David Renwick

David is Starshipit's Content Marketing Lead. When he's not whipping up a fresh new product update or chatting to customers for an exciting case study, you'll typically find him scoping out coffee spots and talking about what's on at the movies.

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