The best time to connect with customers is when they’re most excited about your brand, which is often right after they’ve made a purchase.

Amit Sharma, CEO, Narvar

Amit Sharma, CEO, Narvar

As shopping goes virtual, consumer expectations are more nuanced than ever before. On one hand, they’re eager for convenience and care less about brand name, especially when it comes to everyday items. AmazonBasics, for example, now accounts for around one-third of online battery sales and is enjoying 93 percent year-over-year growth. But when it comes to high-end products, people are willing to pay more for personalized, enjoyable experiences. Take sustainable shopping brand Reformation, which lures shoppers into stores with its customized clothing recommendations and high tech gadgets like touchscreens in dressing rooms.

Online shopping means retailers have less facetime and fewer opportunities to foster strong relationships through the channels and strategies of the past. But while it poses challenges, it also creates new and important ways to drive loyalty—especially the moment after a customer hits the “buy” button.

In the days of traditional retail, a customer would walk to a store, make the purchase, then walk out with shopping bag immediately. Now, that gap between purchase and package has stretched to 2-5 business days. This creates a window of anticipation, when a consumer is excited to touch and feel her latest purchase and is waiting for its arrival.

87 percent of retailers agree that providing customers with proactive information about their orders decreases call center volume.

This new “moment of truth”—sometimes called “post-purchase”—presents a new opportunity for retailers to suggest new items, promote their brands, and create excitement for the package’s arrival. Here are three ways retailers can take advantage of this moment to drive loyalty:

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1) Build anticipation 

The best time to connect with customers is when they’re most excited about your brand. According to a new report, 91 percent of retailers agree that engaging customers after they make a purchase improves brand perception, customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Some retailers offer content tailored to the purchase when sending shipment confirmation. If you purchase a new yoga mat from Lululemon, for example, the confirmation email contains suggestions on caring for your gear, an order tracking link, an offer to connect via live-chat with a specialist, and social media links. Sephora’s shipment tracking page contains product suggestions, a link to their Pinterest-like beauty board, and a beautifully designed background featuring brightly colored makeup. These small details make the customer feel happy with their purchase and eager for its arrival.

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2) Drive interest in new products

Savvy retailers use the days before a customer receives his package to drum up excitement about other items, too. 90 percent of retailers agree that engaging customers after they make a purchase drives new site traffic and revenue.

For example, if you order a muffin tin on Amazon Prime, the website offers “bargain recommendations”, such as measuring cups and other baking paraphernalia. Machine learning algorithms that offer personalized product recommendations make this easy and profitable. According to McKinsey, 35 percent of what consumers purchase on Amazon comes from algorithm-based product recommendations.

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Using customer profiles and data, retailers can figure out what customers need before they do. For example, Target’s Cartwheel mobile couponing app offers recommendations based on past purchases. So if a user searches for baby food, the app may suggest diapers or wipes, too. Right now, only 54 percent of retailers recommend new, related products after a customer makes a purchase. While this is a relatively new technique, there’s evidence customers like these suggestions and buy more stuff as a result.

3) Proactively communicate updates

Customers today expect shopping to be efficient, and get annoyed when retailers take up too much of their time. Retailers should therefore do a better job anticipating customer needs and meeting them before asked.

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Regular updates make customers feel taken care of, but they also benefit suppliers. 87 percent of retailers agree that providing customers with proactive information about their orders decreases call center volume.

It’s important to use the channels to share the status of a return or a delivery ETA in the channels customers prefer. Many stores offer SMS notifications, emails, or even Facebook Messenger services. For example, Urban Decay allows customers to track their makeup purchases and opt into delivery notifications via text message. Figure out what channels your customers prefer and allow them to opt-in so they get the information in a way that’s convenient and fits into their lifestyle.

Customer loyalty is harder to earn than ever before. Expectations have shifted, and people are more driven by ease, convenience, and personalized experiences than ever before. While the switch from brick-and-mortar to online retail creates challenges, it also offers new ways to engage with customers and create a loyal fan base. The time between purchase and delivery is one of the most important opportunities to do this.

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Narvar specializes in providing post-purchase services to online shoppers.

 

 

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