A successful Shopify store isn’t just about having great products and sharp design, nowadays more and more brands are competing on customer experience (CX). Nowadays consumers have access to a huge number of brands for whatever they want to buy, and experience is becoming a key purchasing factor with 86% saying they’d pay more for a better customer experience.
However it isn’t just the experience they have while on your site and completing their purchase, but what happens afterwards. The post-purchase phase of the customer journey is crucial in determining brand loyalty, giving customers reason to make repeat purchases. Luckily, there are a few easy wins for Shopify merchants looking to push their post-purchase experience ahead of the competition.
Why the post-purchase experience is important for customer loyalty
To understand how the post-purchase phase plays into loyalty, we first need to discuss its role in the overall customer journey. The customer experience encompasses every individual component of their journey, from well before they land on your product page to long after they click “Checkout”. Optimizing that journey involves finding all those points of friction where the experience could be causing frustration for the customer and potentially losing them altogether, but typically merchants will focus on the part of the journey that gets them to complete checkout. There are plenty of friction points that can occur during the post-purchase phase; delays in order fulfillment, lack of order status information, unclear returns policies, and more all contribute to a potentially poor post-purchase experience. These issues impact customer satisfaction and brand perception, even if they’re happy with the products they receive.
The more you look into the different factors that make up the post-purchase phase, the more you start to see how it relates to customer loyalty. By addressing friction points in the post-purchase phase, you’re boosting the positive perception a customer has of your store and increasing their chances of becoming loyal to your brand. 73% of customers say that customer experience is a key influence in which brands they remain loyal to, whereas 58% say they’ve stopped doing business with a brand altogether because the experience didn’t meet their expectations. That loyalty rewards your store with more than just retention, as 86% of customers loyal to a brand will recommend it to friends and family and 64% are likely to write a positive review.
Keeping customers happy in that post-purchase phase is crucial to the chances of them making a repeat purchase in the future. By continuing to provide them with a great experience even after they’ve placed an order, you can essentially start the journey to their next purchase. The good news is that there are plenty of easy ways that you can improve the post-purchase experience for your customers and improve their chances of retention and loyalty.
#1 - Provide clear, easy-to-use options for self-service order enquiries
Customer expectations are growing, and especially around tracking their purchases. 97% of customers expect high visibility when it comes to their order, being able to monitor its progress from the moment they place their order. These expectations come from experiences with other retailers, in particular giants like Amazon where fast shipping with tracking information is the norm. While your Shopify store may not be able to compete on shipping speed or pricing against these larger brands, you can stay competitive by providing that high visibility that customers want.
It largely comes down to trust; the more difficult it is to find order status information, the less trust a customer will have in your brand. They don’t know what’s happening with their order, they’re not sure what date they can expect it to arrive; there are a myriad of issues that they may have. Especially around key sales periods such as the holidays, or if they’re ordering for a special occasion such as a vacation or a birthday.
The easiest way to combat this and stay competitive is by providing your customers with the right tools to find information about their order themselves. Self-service options are increasingly popular as they don’t require the customer to wait on a service representative to respond, and they can check their order status as often as they like. Shopify merchants can take advantage of apps such as Order Lookup to give their customers real-time, up-to-date information about their order throughout the entire post-purchase phase. Your team can add notes about their order, communicate delays, and provide them with all the tracking information they’ll want to keep a close watch on their order. 69% of customers are less likely to make a future purchase with a brand if their order isn’t delivered within 2 days of the date promised, but with real-time tracking you can manage customer expectations and communicate any delays as soon as they occur.
The added benefit of these self-service options are that they’ll also save your team time spent on order status enquiries, allowing them to focus on service tickets that require more attention. This in turn means these tickets receive a faster response, and this has a positive impact on the experience for those customers who perhaps have more complex issues.
#2 - Use post-purchase emails to communicate key information
Typically, post-purchase emails tend to be transactional and then follow up with some basic order fulfillment information i.e. when the order has been dispatched. However if you want to build a strong relationship with your customers, your post-purchase email communication needs to go a step further. There are three key areas you need to communicate to customers - product care, returns, and feedback.
Product care emails serve to build trust, reduce customer service enquiries, and show customers that you care about their continued experience with your products and brand. Send emails that give them more information about the products in their order; any specific instructions, advice on how to best care for the product, links to your FAQ, and information on how to get in touch if they have any further questions.
Returns information is perhaps one of the most crucial post-purchase issues you need to communicate to your customers. One of the top complaints for customers centres around returns policies and information, and 84% say that a poor returns experience would not make a repeat purchase with a brand. Communication and transparency are key when it comes to detailing your returns process - they’ll appreciate the extra effort in letting them know how they can return their order if they have any issues. Instead of obscuring your returns policy in the hopes they don’t try to process a return, you’ll instead make it easy for them to find the information. Send post-purchase emails that let them know exactly how your returns process works, and how to get in touch if they have any issues.
Feedback is important to your Shopify store. Not only does direct feedback help you to find any potential problems, but public reviews are also great for both SEO and customer trust. Asking for feedback in post-purchase emails will bring to light any friction points in the post-purchase phase, and will demonstrate to customers that you care about their experience.
If your email service provider (ESP) is integrated with your Shopify store, you can also personalize your post-purchase emails. For product care you can provide them with information for the specific products that were in each customer’s order along with any relevant links. As for returns information and feedback, you can speak to the customer directly using their details and order information.
#3 - Develop a strong loyalty program
A great addition to your customer experience is in having a loyalty program that engages and excites customers. 81% of millennials say being a member of a loyalty program encourages them to spend more, and 79% of consumers in general say that loyalty programs make them more likely to continue doing business with a brand.
Loyalty programs are added value to the customer experience - they’re not an essential part of it such as a swift checkout process, or good post-purchase communication. Everyone loves a freebie or a discount code from a brand they like, and redeeming a reward adds to the positive perception a customer has of their experience. You can also integrate this with your post-purchase emails, letting customers know when they’ve accrued more points or have earned a new reward. By rewarding your repeat customers, you’re giving them another reason to stay loyal to your store rather than exploring a competitor.
Giving customers a great experience is what will keep them coming back again and again. By ensuring you address key points of friction, you can improve the post-purchase phase of that experience and give your customers even more reason to remain loyal to your brand.