Optimizing the After-Buying Experience for Online Shoppers

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January 18, 2018

Retaining an existing customer costs less than acquiring a new one. So why do so many ecommerce brands focus on aggressively driving new traffic and sales—often at the expense of serving their current customers? Your relationship with shoppers doesn’t end when they finalize a transaction; that’s just the beginning.

Optimizing the after-buying experience for online shoppers can be the difference between a one-time deal and a series of recurring conversions. Here’s more on how brands can reinforce loyalty and customer satisfaction after visitors have checked out and paid.

Enhancing the Experience Gap

Buying something online can range from satisfying (another checks off your to-do list) to exciting (finally, the product you’ve had your eye on will be yours). But there’s an experience gap between the moment a customer confirms their purchase and when it shows up on their doorstep. And, as Harvard Business Review writes, “Providing a positive experience at this time of anticipation is a tremendous opportunity for retailers to deepen their relationships with customers and build loyalty for their brands.”

Ongoing Customer Service

One survey found over half of ecommerce customers (56 percent) were disappointed with the post-purchase service they got from sellers. Why? Respondents felt additional “technical help or assistance” would improve the post-purchase experience, while 28 percent believe the same for 24/7 responsiveness. e-merchants need to provide customer service before, during and after a sale.

While it’s often difficult and expensive to have a team of humans available around the clock, online brands can supplement phone support with AI-powered live chat service. With customer service options available during their post-purchase journey, shoppers feel supported and valued.

Making Returns Easier

When you’re planning how to set up an ecommerce site, it’s important to consider everything from browsing, checkout and returns. In an ideal world, everyone would love what they bought and there’d be no reason to send items back. But in the real world, this is an important component of the overall buying experience.

Sellers who make returns as easy as the initial purchase enjoy increased customer loyalty and conversions over time. Those who make returns challenging—or outright impossible—will see their pool of customers dry up over time. This means clearly posting the terms of your return policy on your website, giving shoppers enough time to send merchandise back and making return shipping free or cheap. 

Enabling Delivery Updates

Order fulfillment is huge in ecommerce, but delivery often falls short of buyers’ expectations. What can you do, besides offering a range of flexible options up front? Consider working with a delivery service offering package tracking, for one. Allowing customers to check the progress of their purchase will clear up a lot of customer service inquiries and wondering if your store has forgotten about them.

Even brief updates like “Your package has shipped. It’s time to sit back, relax and anticipate your awesome new gear!” go a long way toward keeping customer anticipation up and post-purchase regret or anxiety down.

Send Out a Post-Purchase Survey

Solicit genuine feedback to refine your after-buying experience. Configure your platform to issue post-purchase surveys the day after the tracking system says the customer received their package. You can use this opportunity to gauge their satisfaction with the product itself, but also with your overall ecommerce process.

Optimizing the after-buying experience for online shoppers is mostly a matter of staying in touch. When consumers feel post-purchase abandonment, it seems you only care about their money. If you put genuine effort into facilitating smooth returns and providing customer service, it becomes obvious you will do what it takes to foster loyalty.


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