On average, a loyal customer is worth 10 times the amount of their first purchase. Customer retention is key to the long term success of a retailer, which means your last impression during the sales cycle is just as important as your first.

While often the part of the sales cycle etailers pay the least attention to because it doesn’t clearly result in immediate sales, the post-purchase experience is quite possibly the most lucrative part of your entire customer experience because it tells the customer how much you value them once you’ve already pocketed their cash.

Let’s look at several small tweaks you can make to your current post-purchase experience that can make a big impact.

1. Make your returns policy simple.

It may seem completely counterintuitive that a simple and easy returns process could end up being the change that makes you more money, but it’s been proven true countless times. The most famous example, of course, is Zappos. They found that 95% of shoppers who make returns will make another purchase.

Zappos has one of the easiest return policies in eCommerce. As Craig Adkins, VP of services and operations says, “Our best customers have the highest returns rates, but they are also the ones that spend the most money with us and are our most profitable customers.” 

Tips to emulate Zappos: 

  • Have a long return window. Zappos’ return window is an impressive 365 days. Yours doesn’t have to be that long, though. Try a 60 or 90-day return window if that makes more sense. Give the customer a good chance to test out the item and think about it.
  • Provide free shipping for returns. If you charge for return shipping (or a restocking fee), customers are less likely to return. But that also means they’re less likely to return as a customer.
  • Make the policy easy to understand – and have a page devoted to it. Zappos has a complete FAQ page that could answer seemingly any question a customer might have about returns. The customer has full knowledge of what the policy is and how to return.

2. Offer real-time order status updates on your site.

As soon as they submit their order, customers want to know when they can expect a package at their door.

Our data at ShopPad shows that, when given a page to track their package on, customers will look up where their package is an average of four times per order. When not given access to a tracking page, customers will clog up a customer service inbox asking where their order is. At peak times of the year, up to 80% of a store’s customer service tickets can be questions about where an order is.

CurlMix demonstrates a creative and easy way to upgrade the post-purchase experience in regards to tracking. Not only do they make sure the customer has a tracking number, but they offer a tracking page right on their website. This means CurlMix can control the tracking experience, offering clarity and familiarity to customers.

“Having on-site order tracking has provided our valuable CurlMix customers with the ability to quickly, easily, and efficiently track the status of their order.  And this not only improves our customers’ experience, it also builds customer trust, which is priceless.”. – Crystal Williams, Chief Customer Officer

Tips to emulate CurlMix:

  • Add Tracktor to your Shopify store. CurlMix uses our app Tracktor to add this tracking page to their store. From within Tracktor they can manage the look, feel, and content of their tracking page.
  • Add the tracking page link into the site footer so customers can always find it. CurlMix places their link in their “learn” section, amidst other resources like their Hair Quiz.
  • Be sure to send out an email with a link to the tracking page in it as well, to provide clear communication about where their order is.

3. Include how-tos and product information in the package.

A brilliant way to step up your post-purchase experience without completely overhauling it is to include product information or how-tos in the package. Firstleaf, a wine club subscription company, has mastered this. 

In the package, they include an 8×11 card for each bottle of wine they send. On one side, the card has a photo of the area that the wine is from. On the other side, there is a ton of information about the creation, history, and tasting notes of the wine. As a Firstleaf customer, I genuinely enjoy learning more about the wines I will be drinking and reading the cards is one of my favorite parts of unboxing the wine.

Tips to emulate Firstleaf:

  • Choose to share information that adds to the customer’s experience of the product. For non-food products, you could include a set of clear, visually pleasing instructions. Or share the story that led to the creation of that product. Clothes can come with styling suggestion cards (that can double as product recommendations). 
  • Print the additional information in a visually pleasing manner. Firstleaf uses incredible photos printed on cardstock, with the information laid out thoughtfully by a graphic designer. This isn’t your standard instructional booklet from IKEA.
  • Add details that give the content long term use to the customer. Firstleaf, for instance, includes a small section of blank space at the bottom of the card where the customer can write their own tasting notes right next to the sommelier notes. Homechef, a cooking subscription company, keeps it even simpler: they simply three-hole punch all their recipe cards so customers can build a recipe binder.

4. Write a thank-you note.

The final tweak that can make a big difference in the post-purchase experience is sending a thank-you note. A thank-you note can be a deeply personal touch that lets the customer know you care about their purchase. First, let’s talk about a couple of ways to make this happen:

  • The easiest way to add thank-you notes to the post-purchase experience is to set up an automated email within your email marketing system. You can use tokens (also known as dynamic content) to specify the customer’s name and purchases. This is a low effort route so it’s accomplished easily. However, the customer will also feel the least gratitude from this method.
  • Send an individual thank-you email to each customer. This requires more effort and is more personal than the previous approach, though perhaps not quite as touching as a handwritten note. 
  • Send a handwritten note, which is the most personal and requires the most effort. The effort will make a customer feel truly appreciated, though, so it can be very worth the time.
  • Finally, feel free to mix and match these methods. It doesn’t necessarily make sense to send a handwritten thank-you note for a very small purchase. However, sending a handwritten note to high-value customers is definitely worth the effort. The easiest way to mix-and-match is to have a thank-you email triggered in your email system for purchases under a certain amount. You can then set up an automation with our automation app, Mesa, to have tag all orders in Shopify above that amount as needed a handwritten note.

Chewy is a great example to check out. They send handwritten notes to their customers both for individual purchases and for their loyalty. They’ve even been known to send out condolence cards when someone loses their pet. These thank-you notes mean a lot to their customers. Many customers post the notes online. My own coworker received one and keeps it in her desk because she likes it so much. 

Tips to emulate Chewy:

  • Mention the specific purchase. It’s a good way to make it clear this note was written purposefully for this particular customer. 
  • Sign it from your name, not just the brand name. Thank-you notes provide a chance to give your brand a human face and name, fostering a deeper connection for the customer.
  • Include a bit of your own voice in the note to make it come across more human. For instance, the Chewy notes all vary a bit depending on who wrote them. Different writers use phrases like “fur baby,” “having a blast,” or “loves the [food brand name].” While there’s definitely a template the writers follow, they’re also adding their own thoughts to the note, making it very genuine.

Put a bow on it

The post-purchase experience is truly important to your overall customer experience and long term success. That said, you don’t need to do a full overhaul on your post-purchase experience if you don’t have the resources to do so. By making these smaller chances first, you can see some big differences.

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