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How Managing the Post-Purchase Afterglow Boosts Return Shoppers

When consumers shop online, they’re aiming for the same level of convenience as they’d find at a brick-and-mortar store, if not more. The post-purchase experience is a chance for retailers to engage with customers in a way that brings them back to the site—and when a brand has a strong post-purchase strategy, customers will come back faster and spend more.

“There’s been a lot more focus recently on the post-purchase experience as a critical moment to engage customers and build loyalty,” said Amit Sharma, Narvar’s founder and CEO. Plenty of online consumers have seen Narvar’s post-purchase software, Track, in action without realizing it. The platform creates a personalized product tracking experience with store branding that keeps customers engaged while they wait for deliveries. “Retailers may be underestimating the value of the opportunity to build long-lasting trust through proactive, transparent communication during this time of high anticipation,” Sharma said.

According to Sharma, that means open lines of communication, and plenty of information about order status—even when something goes wrong. In a report by Narvar, 83 percent of consumers said they expect regular updates about their purchase, and 98 percent said they feel better about a company if they’re told as soon as possible when it’s bad news. Containing that information in a branded tracker like Narvar’s keeps customers engaged with the brand, rather than sending them to a carrier like FedEx or UPS for answers. Shoppers are willing to abandon a brand if their experience is less than exceptional, so it pays for retailers to go above and beyond. “In addition to providing proactive communication about packages, which saves their customers time tracking down these details, thinking about what other information would be of value to them in that stage is critical,” Sharma said. One example of a feature that foresees customer needs: Narvar Track also allows customers to update shipping addresses and redirect packages when they’re in-route.

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Beyond package tracking, encompassing returns and exchanges are also key to a smooth customer experience, and Narvar has retail tools that integrate with Track for that. “As a retailer, you can do absolutely everything right through getting their order in their hands,” Sharma said, “but you need to take the same level of care to make the experience great if they need to make a return.” Making returns just as easy as purchases is key, Sharma said, to maintaining customer confidence in a brand. Almost all consumers (96 percent) said they would shop again with a retailer based on a good returns experience.

When it comes to converting engagement into sales, Sharma said that brands should try and use the customer’s mindset to determine what services would be most valuable. “What makes your relationship more than transactional? Do they need product support or suggestions? Might they be interested in an in-store event? Would they want information about how to initiate a return or exchange?” Sharma said. From there, retailers can customize emails and landing pages that give those customers access to any post-purchase resources they may need.

In a case study with retail partner PrettyLittleThing, Narvar bolstered the post-purchase experience by using personalized marketing assets in emails that directed consumers to PrettyLittleThing’s branded tracking pages. Those emails achieved a 44.3 percent click-through rate. Within five months, implementing Narvar’s Track technology accelerated time to next purchase by 57 percent. Fostering customer loyalty is one thing, but turning it into revenue again quickly is what helps brands fly past the competition.

Putting customers in control, Sharma said, isn’t just about tracking physical items, but about empowering them all the way through to future purchases. Narvar wants to help its retail partners get creative in how they breed customer loyalty. “Machine learning applied to data at scale helps anticipate and address consumer questions and better predict delivery times. AI provides more relevant product recommendations,” Sharma said. “We’re constantly looking at the best ways to hone the customer experience, and new technologies are part of how we get there.”