Standing out from the competition is hard in any industry, especially ecommerce. When customers have every brand imaginable at their fingertips, it becomes even more difficult to capture their attention with product selection alone. Of all the factors that go into the customer purchasing decision process there’s one that has fast become the primary battleground for retailers - customer experience.
Customers no longer just decide which brands to buy from based on price and selection, they want to shop with a retailer that provides them with a fast and convenient experience from start to finish making their lives easier. Brand loyalty isn’t just decided on how good the product is, but on the kind of experience the customer gets shopping with the brand. When a retailer fails to deliver on that experience, they’ll simply look elsewhere.
Customer experience is a broad topic, however today we’re going to focus on one aspect of the customer journey that may seem small but has a huge impact on retention and loyalty - order tracking.
Understanding customer experience and retention
To understand why order tracking is so important, we first need to talk about customer experience and how it relates to retention. The relationship between customer experience and retention is fairly simple on the surface. The better the experience a customer has with your store, the more likely they are to return for a future purchase. Where that becomes more complicated is when you start to break down everything that has to come together to create that positive experience. There are many different touch points in the customer journey, all of which need to be analyzed and optimized to truly deliver what your customers are looking for from the brands they choose to shop with.
The benefit of optimizing those touch points will benefit new and existing customers alike, however the value of those existing customers cannot be overstated. It can cost retailers as much as five times more to attract a new customer vs keeping an existing one, and the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% compared to just 5-20% for a new customer. Moreover, existing customers are 50% more likely to try a new product and typically spend 31% more than a new customer.
The chances of retention will depend on your entire customer experience, but there’s one phase in their journey in particular that will have a significant impact - post-purchase.
How post-purchase plays into retention
Once a customer has placed an order, they’ve parted ways with their money and are now trusting your brand to deliver a great delivery and fulfillment experience. Trust is a big factor in customer loyalty and retention, and the more trust markers you can add to the post-purchase experience the better. Ultimately, customers want online purchases to be convenient and if they’re worried about the status of their order or have to go out of their way to get in touch with your customer support team, that’s inconvenient. If they experience these points of friction, it’ll grow into frustration and the chances of retention will decrease dramatically.
One major point of friction for customers is the delivery process. 93% of consumers want to stay informed throughout the process, and 98% say delivery is an important factor in brand loyalty, yet 44% say many brands aren’t offering a positive delivery experience. The impact of these failures will undoubtedly be felt by brands who aren’t performing - 47% of customers say they won’t order again from a brand with poor visibility throughout the delivery process.
Finding solutions to these issues is thankfully simple - implement real-time tracking as part of your post-purchase experience. Let’s take a look at one tool which makes this easy and straightforward for Shopify merchants, Order Lookup.
Order Lookup: Real-time tracking made easy
Designed and built by Shopify Experts, Order Lookup adds an easy-to-use customer facing tracking portal to your storefront. All the customer has to do is enter their email address and order number, and they’ll instantly get up-to-date, real-time information about their order. They’ll also be able to see any additional information or notes your team has added to their order.
The portal is highly customizable, allowing you to change how it looks aesthetically as well as adding your own text giving you greater flexibility with how the portal looks and feels to your customers. Order Lookup also supports multiple languages, and integrates with over 400+ global carriers so whether you’re based in the USA using FedEx, or in Germany using Deutsche Post, you can give fast, localized information to your customers.
Additionally, if you’re in the business of dropshipping, Order Lookup also has ePacket support. It’s mobile friendly, works with all Shopify themes, and is super fast and simple to set up.
Why having real-time tracking app is important
Having a tool like Order Lookup as part of your store’s set up is vital, especially if you want to control as much of the customer experience as possible. You can’t physically control everything that happens once a package leaves your warehouse, that’s left to the carrier. You also can’t control what the experience looks and feels like on each individual carrier’s customer tracking portal. They all have their own set-up, tracking instructions, layouts, and more. This means that if a customer places an order one month and it’s sent via FedEx, then places a second order which is shipped using USPS, they’re going to have a different experience each time trying to use the customer portal for each. Perhaps one has better tools and support, and the other has better information and UI. The key point however is that you can’t control that as the merchant, and this part of the post-purchase experience is crucial to retention.
Using Order Lookup, you have control over the customer delivery experience no matter who you ship the order with - how it looks, the information they have access to, and more. What’s more, if a customer has an issue with their order they can contact your support team who can then deal with the courier on their behalf rather than the customer being expected to deal with courier chat bots or sitting on hold for hours to find out information. This only helps strengthen the trust a customer has with your brand, and provides them an even better, more positive experience.
Speaking of customer support, this is another area where having easily accessible and detailed tracking is beneficial for both customers and your team. There are many cases where a customer won’t want to wait on a response from customer service, for example when they’re buying a gift and need to know when it will arrive. Especially during peak sales seasons such as Black Friday and the holidays, your customer service response time may be slower than usual due to higher request volumes. Excellent customer service is essential in building loyalty - when asked what impacts the trust a customer has in a brand, most said customer service was their number one priority. They’re also more willing to use automated or self-service options to satisfy their customer service needs - 60% of customers say they actually prefer to use self-service options. Offering an instant, easy-to-use tool that customers can access any time will improve their perception of your customer service even though they haven’t even spoken to a representative from your team.
Having access to a real-time tracking tool will also reduce the number of requests your team receives about shipping and delivery. This will help your team to prioritize support requests that require additional attention or are more complex rather than spending their time sifting through and responding to queries about order status and delivery. That will in turn impact the customers with those more complex queries, as they’ll get a more timely response and they will also have a more positive experience.
How to use Order Lookup to improve customer experience
To really maximize the value you and your customers get out of your new real-time tracking tool, there are some simple things you can do to both right away after installation and later down the line as you use Order Lookup long-term. Here are three easy steps to making the most of Order Lookup, that will make sure it’s accessible for customers, adds to your brand experience, and ensures customers actually use it.
#1 - Customize your customer tracking portal
First and foremost, once you’ve installed Order Lookup you should take advantage of the range of customization options available. Some easy customizations you can make include changing colors and fonts to match your store branding, and updating the text that actually appears as customers use the portal to suit your brand voice and requirements. This will ensure a consistent brand experience throughout the customer journey from when they start browsing your store all the way through to when they track their order.
If you want to get even more detailed in your customizations, Order Lookup also support custom CSS.
#2 - Make sure customers know about your tracking portal
It may sound simple, but one of the best ways to ensure customers use your portal is to make sure they actually know it exists. Sending a one-off link in a dispatch notification is just the bare minimum, if you want to reduce customer support tickets and boost customer satisfaction you need to go a few steps further.
There are a number of ways you can improve customer awareness of your tracking portal:
- Include information and links to it on key pages throughout your site - FAQ, Checkout page, Delivery Info.
- Send more than one email in the post-purchase process - send at least one beyond the dispatch notification that is dedicated just to letting them know about your tracking portal along with customer support information.
- Add information about tracking to your customer support auto-responder when a customer enquires about order status.
Visibility is key; the more you can do to highlight your tracking portal, the higher the chance customers will use it and you’ll see the benefits of having it available.
#3 - Use the notes feature
Being able to add custom notes and information to orders may not be a feature you think to use often, but it can be a game-changer in certain situations. Take the holidays for example, there are often delays in shipping where it may be taking longer than usual for couriers to pick up and deliver orders. In this case, you can add a note to affected orders letting the customer know that their order may take slightly longer due to seasonal delays. Another example may be that the order had to split over two shipments due to inventory issues, in which case you can let the customer know what to expect in the first shipment and when the second order will ship.
You could also use it to add a more personal touch to improve the customer experience for loyal customers; if you notice a loyal customer with high LTV has placed an order with standard delivery and you decide to upgrade their delivery to thank them for their loyalty, you can leave a note on their tracking information to let them know they’ve been upgraded.
Touch points throughout the customer experience add up for a customer to form an opinion on your store and brand. One small detail can make a big difference, and how you present and manage your tracking information is most certainly one of those details. By taking control of your tracking experience for customers, you can greatly improve their experience and improve retention.