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The post-purchase is an essential, yet often overlooked, stage of the e-commerce customer journey. With repeat customers accounting for on average up to 40% of store’s revenue, it’s important to have a strong post-purchase strategy in place in order to provoke repeat engagement, encourage referrals, and drive more revenue. However, most if not all management attention and investments are focused on pre-purchase phase of customer buying experience, while post-purchase phase has been ignored or left unmanaged.
Everything that happens after the check-out button often receives much less attention
So, in search of eCommerce growth most companies invest heavily into online advertising and online presence through an ever expanding digital marketing performance tech arsenal and ecosystem that evolves around search, acquisition and conversion optimisation. At the same time everything that happens after the check-out button often receives much less attention, especially from marketing & brand departments who, often from siloed departments' perspective, consider this part of consumer journey solely the supply chain department's area of expertise and responsibility.
Ignorance of post-purchase phase of the eCommerce shopping journey seriously obstructs short-term, but more importantly long term and continuous revenue growth perspectives.
You Had Me At “Goodbye”: Post-Purchase Phase Is Key
As predicted by the findings from the 2016 IBM Consumer Expectations Study, consumer expectations have soared. When respondents were asked to gauge the importance of various retailer capabilities, several post-purchase capabilities received extremely high scores for influencing where consumers choose to shop:
- In-store pickup of online/mobile purchases – 88%
- Notification that an order is ready for in-store pickup – 87%
- Tracking online or mobile orders via any combination of channels – 88%
- Consistently accurate, on-time delivery of Web/Mobile purchases – 88%
- Notification of delays with an order or its delivery – 90%
- Notification when an order has been delivered – 88%
- In-store return of online/mobile purchases – 87%
Two crucial indicators and prerequisites for market share growth are positive customer brand relationship and repeat purchases - customer loyalty. According to the U.S. consumer survey done by IBV (Institute for Business Value) in 2011, out of 3 phases of brand experience (pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase) respondents clearly marked the post-purchase phase as the most influential over their retail brand relationships and their willingness to promote a given retailer to other consumers.
Whether customers will choose to continue to shop with you or competitors depends mostly on post-purchase experience he has had with your brand.
Depending on which study you believe, and what industry you’re in, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. It makes sense: you don’t have to spend time and resources going out and finding a new client — you just have to keep the one you have happy. If you’re not convinced that retaining customers is so valuable, consider research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company (the inventor of the net promoter score) that shows increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.
Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one
Focusing on post-purchase and driving eCommerce growth
The length of delivery time, variety of delivery options, tracking visibility and communications, how your product is packaged, the ease of exchanges and returns—it all contributes to your brand perception (promises you make) as a whole. Meeting them or failing them has a significant impact on your top line revenue. The importance of the post-purchase brand experience in deepening or undermining the brand relationship that a consumer has with a retailer is unquestionable. It's influence on the growth or decline of repeat customers segment as well. So how do you turn things around and start focusing on your eCommerce post-purchase experience to drive growth? Answer is architecting and implementing post-purchase strategies and post-purchase experiences that are tailored not only to your organisational capabilities, but more importantly to competitive market position(ing) and business goals.
Post-purchase experience and strategies are an extension of general market competitive strategies & positioning. Post-purchase experience should be aligned with, and enhancing of, your competitive position and value proposition. A compelling post-purchase experience, needs not only be aligned with your value proposition, but also with market average consumer expectations. Of what use or value is a post-purchase experience that is inferior to those of your competitors and even worse - market averages and implicit consumer expectations.
Of what use or value is a post-purchase experience that is inferior to those of your competitors and even worse - market averages and implicit consumer expectations.
Sure, anyone has or can have some type of post-purchase experience. Even that one that doesn't exist is an experience, just a very poor one. The question is, if your post-purchase experience inferior to customer expectations - implicit and explicit ones, then is it worth investing into? Wouldn't you be better off not caring about post-purchase experience rather than investing into one, that will turn out to be inferior compared to that one of your competitors or the market averages? These are just some of the questions that need to be raised to make a post-purchase architecting a success.
Country level consumer expectations
For a global e-commerce business and growth perspective it is important to realise that with a change in country and culture, purchase habits and expectations also change. Market by market country distinct consumer purchase habits are not just naturally determined by country culture differences, but when it comes to e-commerce buying habits, also by market maturity in terms of technological level of advancement and e-commerce industry maturity as well as already existing local players. Furthermore, when considering the purchase habits, one needs to know that out of three phases of purchase experience (pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase) it is the post-purchase that carries most weight when defining positive or negative evaluation of the total buying experience. Thus, when looking across country distinct e-commerce purchasing preferences, one needs to pay special attention to the post-purchase phase as it will have strongest impact on defining total purchasing habits.
For a global e-commerce business and growth perspective it is important to realise that with a change in country and culture, purchase expectations also change.
Disabled by lack of systematic assessment insight into it’s competitive position and dynamics of competition within and across markets, global e-commerce & brand professionals risk making faulty market steps and costly mistakes by applying “one-size-fits-all” approach which ignores country distinct consumer preferences shaped by e-commerce market maturity and local players. Architecting post-purchase experience without comparative market insight is a strategic shot in the dark.
Architecting post-purchase experience without comparative market insight is a strategic shot in the dark.
Leveraging comparative market insights
SO DIGITAL GLOBAL E-COMMERCE BRAND EXCELLENCE PLATFORM is a management tool that helps companies formulate, evaluate, and improve their e-commerce experiences by providing a systematic assessment of competitive performance of post-purchase experience across markets. Our platform enables competitive cross industry performance benchmarking of best performing e-retailers across dimensions of online (post)purchase experience, including but not limited to, phases of delivery, tracking, packaging - out of box experience, and return & refunds.
The research and insights into country by country implicit customer expectations from an online shopping experience with particular focus on the post-purchase experience is at the heart of the SO DIGITAL GLOBAL E-COMMERCE BRAND EXCELLENCE PLATFORM. It audits the most influential phase of customer brand relationship by contrasting the customer shopping experience across stages of delivery, tracking, packaging - out of box experience, returns & refunds ( the reality) versus brand set expectations (the promises).
Our solution guides performance correction activities within the brand management, supply chain management and customer service departments by providing market by market insight into implicit customer expectations from an online shopping experience revealing it’s potential impact on company’s operations. As implicit expectations reflect established norms of performance, created by business in general, other companies, industries, and even cultures, benchmarking results reveal not only success reasons of best performing e-retailers but also point to any gaps between your company’s department’s performance (supply chain, brand and marketing, customer service) and customer expectations.
To discover more how you can improve your e-commerce strategies and close the gap between your performance and customer's expectations, contact us today for a free no-commitment 1-on-1 live walk through of our solution and client case of Nike (EMEA).
SO DIGITAL | GLOBAL BRAND EXCELLENCE SOLUTIONS is a technology company based in Amsterdam specialised in serving headquarters of global brands. We are proud partners of leading global digital growth brands like Nike (EMEA) and Uber (EMEA), but also other brands like TomTom (WHQ) and AS Monaco. With offices in Amsterdam, Berlin, Barcelona and Balkans we help global brands reduce complexity cost of global branding by delivering speed, scale and efficiency in execution across markets.