Much of your time, energy, and resources are spent attracting customers to your site, with the end goal of conversion or closing a sale. The devil is in the details for eCommerce professionals, from eye-catching targeted digital ads and social media posts to a beautifully structured website and checkout experience.
But there’s more to it beyond sealing the deal.
Your relationship with your customers shouldn’t end at checkout. The period immediately after a customer completes their payment is critical to nail if you want to foster customer loyalty. Since earning new customers is more expensive than keeping existing ones, focusing energy on the post-purchase experience must begin immediately.
Why customer lifetime value (CLV) is so important
Regarding customers, there are two metrics most eCommerce professionals track closely: customer acquisition cost (CAC) and customer lifetime value (CLV).
CAC is the cost of bringing in a new customer. To calculate that amount, you can use this simple formula: CAC = Total Marketing Cost (TMC) / Total New Purchases (TNP)
CLV, on the other hand, refers to the lifetime value a customer brings to your brand. Over time, it can be as little as $1 from a single sale to hundreds or even thousands of dollars in recurring revenue from repeat purchases.
It’s easy to focus on only one of these numbers instead of considering them both relative. For example, if your CAC is high and your CLV low, you have an unsustainable model; it means you’re spending too much to attract customers and not selling enough to make them profitable. A higher CLV and lower CAC is the best possible scenario; overall, your customers continue to drive up your revenue without overspending to attract new ones.
One of the most profitable strategies you can adopt is to retain your customers once you’ve attracted them for that initial sale. To do this, you must create and provide customers with a great post-purchase experience. Offering your customers five-star service makes them want to come back, which helps you build customer loyalty, increase your CLV, and even decrease your CAC.
Strategies to provide a five-star post-purchase experience
PwC found that a third of customers will abandon a brand they love after a single bad experience. Meanwhile, almost two-thirds of US survey respondents said an extraordinary experience is more persuasive than your best advertisement could ever be.
If you want happy customers who come back repeatedly, you have to guarantee them a great experience from their first touchpoint to delivery and product use.
1) Set expectations
Commit to transparency by communicating any additional fees, stock limits, fulfillment times, or special shipping requirements that customers need to know about to make informed decisions.
Shoppers dislike unpleasant surprises after purchase, like waiting longer than expected for delivery or discovering a bundle or “deal” they ordered was a bait-and-switch.
Establishing expectations and being transparent about your items and delivery can set the tone for the rest of the post-purchase process.
2) Continue post-checkout communications
Your checkout process is one of the most critical components of the post-purchase experience. It’s also one of the easiest to mess up. To avoid cart abandonment, merchants can offer multiple payment options, shortening required fields and adding confirmations at every opportunity.
However, what comes after checkout is equally essential. Once your customer has completed the process and their payment is cleared, it’s time to kick your nurturing up a notch. Remember, immediately after a purchase is critical to encourage customer loyalty.
Show an order completion page.
A simple thank you can go a long way. At the very least, your completion page should show gratitude to your customer, thanking them for their purchase. Be sure to include the order number, relevant details, and, if possible, allow printing or downloading an invoice or receipt from the web page.
Send a confirmation email.
The close of a sale should immediately prompt a confirmation email. In it, be sure to express your thanks again and include relevant information your customer needs, such as:
- Order number
- Order details (e.g., products purchased)
- Relevant timelines
Send order updates
Keep your customer informed throughout the fulfillment process. Each completed milestone should trigger an email so they know exactly where their purchase is. This can include:
- “We’ve received your order.”
- “We’re preparing your order for shipment.”
- “Your order has shipped.”
- “Your order has been delivered.”
3) Make returns and refunds simple
While it might seem counterintuitive to broadcast returns and refunds, having a clear return policy can increase customer satisfaction. Communicate your return or refund policy directly on your product pages or website for customers to review before purchasing. Also, make it easy to follow if someone wants to return an item.
For example, you could include a packing slip to return items (ensure it’s only charged to your account if used) or offer drop-off options.
In your order confirmation message, include information about refunds and returns so your customer is well-informed about your policies. Make it easy for them to contact support to ask questions and get updates on their returns.
4) Teach buyers how best to use your products
Extend your products’ value by showing buyers new and exciting ways to use them with how-to guides, infographics, videos, and other relevant content. For example, offer a split photo of a shirt that can be worn twice, or post creative recipes for their new BBQ.
Offering customers additional information about their purchased products is a great way to polish off the shopping experience, especially for first-time buyers.
A simple manual can also reduce the risk of returns from frustrated customers who couldn’t figure out a complex item independently.
Consider using the following for customer education:
- Include an infographic in your email
- Embed a video guide
- Please direct them to a written guide on your website
- Please send them to a YouTube video you’ve created
- Please include a link to social media pages where they can see the product in action
5) Share product care tips
Does the product your customer purchased require special care? If so, you can add value by sharing care tips to ensure they have all the necessary information to keep their product(s) in tip-top shape.
Similar to offering how-to guides, providing product care tips will help your customers protect their purchases from wearing out quickly. Again, you can share this information in various ways, from video to written content.
6) Deliver on time, every time
Fulfill your delivery promises, which include speed, reliability, and care. If you advertise two-day delivery on your listings, deliver within that time. If you have fragile items, use the correct dunnage to protect them.
You want your buyers to get what they ordered on time (or faster than expected) and in mint condition. But if something goes wrong along the way, communicate it immediately.
Tip: Work with a trustworthy nationwide 3PL network to ensure fast, reliable shipping. We recommend looking for a partner that can support your growth, has transparent pricing, and meets your prep and packaging requirements to enhance your brand experience.
7) Make it easy to get in touch
Customer service is paramount to your business’s success, from questions to troubleshooting issues. A great way to ensure top-notch customer service is to provide the information your customers need before they ask.
This can include offering a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section on your site or product pages with links to relevant information.
Offering live chat support enables you to reach customers in real-time as issues or inquiries arise, saving them time and, potentially, your sales. You can also ask for instant feedback once a problem has been resolved.
If email is your preferred support method, establish service-level agreements (SLAs) and communicate timelines with your support team. Tell your customers they can expect a response within X amount of time.
8) Seek feedback
Asking for feedback is an eCommerce practice every merchant should adhere to. Positive reviews help build credibility and increase your products’ ranking in search results. Even a negative thought with an excellent customer service reply can improve your conversion rate.
Seeking feedback on your product (and your service in general) can help fine-tune your overall buying experience. Perhaps customers will share that they’d like to see bundled options for purchasing or say they loved how fast your shipping was.
Whatever the feedback you receive, taking it into account and making your customers feel heard will improve their post-purchase experience.
9) Send replenishment reminders
Auto-replenishment subscription models or replenishment reminders are a fantastic way to keep in touch with your customers and ensure repeat business.
An auto-replenishment subscription model auto-fills an order for a product or products on a scheduled timeline. A great example of auto-replenishment is Amazon’s Subscribe & Save. This model removes the burden of remembering to reorder from your customers while helping you plan for inventory needs and secure return business.
Replenishment reminders are automated emails alerting your customers that their products may be due for replenishment. You can use data gathered from repeat product purchases to understand the general timeline for replenishment for the average user. After calculating your fulfillment and shipping times, this information can also ensure these emails are set up to fire away at the right time.
10) Create a loyalty program
If you want to build a loyal customer base, reward your customers for their loyalty.
You can entice customers to return for subsequent purchases by offering coupon codes, repeat business discounts, or points programs that can be “cashed out” after a certain number of assets.
Go beyond a thank you and demonstrate that you value them by offering custom offers and inviting them into your inner circle.
Email them an invitation to join and lay out the benefits, whether an exclusive offer, VIP access to sales, or bonus points on purchases.
11) Recommend complementary products
You can boost your customer experience and bottom line by offering relevant product recommendations in your follow-up communications.
Gathering as much information about your customers as possible helps build a stronger relationship, especially as third-party data fades into the abyss. But, even with limited information, their recently purchased item(s) allows you to email them with recommendations on relevant, complementary products.
For example, if they purchased an item of clothing, other pieces may complete the look. Maybe it’s something that’s regularly purchased alongside the item they bought. It might even be something within the same product group, such as another skincare routine step or additional food items to create a complete meal.
It’s important to offer relevant and complementary product recommendations rather than throwing out random suggestions. Please mEnsure the products you offer align with customer preferences; otherwise, you risk annoying them with pointless content.
12) Stay in touch
Regularly contacting your customers is a great way to improve the overall customer experience. There are several ways you can do this.
Use your weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly newsletter to inform customers about new product releases, special deals, and VIP offers. Entice them to join your mailing list at the time of purchase by communicating the unique benefits of being a club member.
If newsletters aren’t your thing, keep your current and prospective customers in the loop via your social media channels. You can share promotions, highlight new products, and update customers on what’s new with your business through common channels like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.
Wrapping up — Show shoppers they’re more than $$$ with a seamless post-purchase experience.
Customers who have a great buyer experience on your eCommerce store are more likely to return. Customers who return for repeat business have a higher CLV, enabling your business to grow, lowering your CAC and helping you build a more sustainable business model.
By continuing to delight your customers and making them feel valued even after handing over their payment, you can use your post-purchase experience to generate more loyalty, better overall customer retention, and even some excellent reviews.