The holiday season goes by like a blur; one moment you’re frantically trying to cope with the influx of orders after BFCM, and the next it’s January and you’re trying to plan for the year ahead. The end of the year is always a great time for merchants to make the most of the opportunity to attract new customers, be that people looking to treat themselves, or someone purchasing a gift. This busy period full of fresh acquisition and hurried fulfillment can make it easy to forget about what happens after the holidays are over.
The ideal situation would be that all those customers who ordered over the holidays come back throughout the rest of the year. That’s where retention comes into your post-holiday strategy.
What contributes to retention after the holidays?
Retention is a huge part of ecommerce. It has been said that loyal customers are worth as much as ten times their original purchase, and the probability of selling to a loyal customer is about 60-70% compared to just 5-20% for a new customer. During the holiday season, you’ll likely see a higher volume of new customers, as people look for gifts and discover new brands to shop with. They may find you through search engines, social media, or even word-of-mouth recommendations from friends. Either way, you want to turn those new customers into loyal ones, so that they continue to shop with your store long after the holidays are over.
The best way to boost those chances for retention, is to provide every customer with an amazing customer experience throughout the holidays. The better the experience, the more likely they’ll be to become a repeat customer. However there are hurdles to overcome in delivering that experience. You can easily control the experience on your site, how checkout looks and feels, the functionality of your store, but you also need to consider what comes after they click “checkout”. Post-purchase is a hugely important part of the customer experience, and it truly is your business’ time to shine and demonstrate to the customer you’re worth their loyalty.
During the holidays, your team becomes a lot busier, fulfillment can become backlogged, and delays with shipping are extremely common. Delays as a result of your supply chain can be particularly tricky to manage, as they’re largely outside of your control and yet they do impact how customers’ perception your business. They want to know their gifts will arrive on time, and they won’t be scrambling to find an alternative. That’s why it’s so important to be proactive, and put things in place that will help to improve your post-purchase customer experience.
The impact of tracking on customer retention
The primary area merchants should focus on to improve post-holiday retention is delivery and specifically tracking information. In one survey on ecommerce delivery, 81% of consumers said they’ve had a bad delivery experience in the last 12 months. When a retailer fails to meet their delivery expectations, 36% said they’d switch brands and 29% would leave a bad review. This then not only impacts your retention rates, but also chances for acquisition as 93% of consumers say that reading reviews influences their purchasing decisions.
The best way to improve that experience may surprise you - it’s simply to provide better tracking tools. 86% of consumers say that tracking is important to them, and 47% said that in the last 12 months it has become the most important factor in delivery above even free shipping. Tracking helps to manage expectations, and gives the customer greater control over their order. A tool that allows the customer to track with an estimated date is generally fine, however if that estimation isn’t met and the customer has no way to check this can become a source of frustration. To really help them, you need to give them a better tool - real-time tracking.
Real-time tracking pinpoints a few vital areas that are key to the customer post-purchase experience:
As soon as a customer places an order, they’ll immediately start wondering what comes next. When will their order arrive? Will there be delays? If so, how long is the delay? Real-time tracking gives them the answers they need, offering greater control and peace of mind.
The more information you can give customers throughout their post-purchase experience, the more confidence it gives them and therefore they’re more likely to trust your store with future purchases. Real-time tracking helps to build that trust even further, as there is clear and easily accessible information as to exactly where their order is at any given moment. If they can trust you to deliver during a hectic holiday season, that will set you up for an excellent customer relationship.
The concerns we just mentioned may typically be directed toward a customer support team, and during the holidays response times can often be longer due to an influx of enquiries. Real-time tracking gives customers the kind of support experience they actually want - self-service support. 60% of US consumers prefer self-service options, as it gives them the answers they need fast. This eliminates the need to wait on customer service responses, and gives them a better experience even though they didn’t interact with your team directly.
Even if the customer isn’t someone from your usual audience and is purchasing a gift, providing an excellent delivery experience will reap reward. They may pass on that experience to the recipient, who in turn may consider shopping with your brand if they haven’t previously and if they have it may bring them back again. Perhaps the gift buyer will also consider your brand for a future gift purchase, or will leave a positive review that will encourage more customers to place an order.
The holidays are a great opportunity to grow your sales and introduce your brand to new customers. However the opportunity doesn’t stop there; with a well thought out approach to the post-purchase experience, you can make a more meaningful impact on customers that will keep them coming back time and time again.