The Post-Purchase Experience: 7 Strategies for Your Customer-Centric Ecommerce Brand

Ryan Baum
Ryan Baum
Last updated on 
June 7, 2022
June 7, 2022
The Post-Purchase Experience: 7 Strategies for Your Customer-Centric Ecommerce Brand

The post-purchase experience is a crucial window of time that starts the moment after a customer checks out and completes a transaction on your ecommerce store. Far from the end of the customer relationship, that moment where they click “buy” is just the start of a customer journey.

With the right tactics and strategies, ecommerce businesses like yours are turning the post-purchase experience into a relationship-building, revenue-generating window.

Follow these seven strategies to make your brand’s post-purchase experience more customer-centric and more strategic at the same time.

Why the post-purchase experience is important for your customers

The post-purchase experience is a crucial time for customer relationship building. The customer has already clicked “buy,” and that was no small feat: Around 70% of shoppers abandoned their cart in the US in 2019, so you’ve already cleared that hurdle.

Your work here won’t directly affect that initial point of sale. But what you do (and don’t) do during this period has ripple effects moving forward:

  • Done right, this post-purchase experience has the potential to create raving superfans and repeat customers.
  • Done poorly, you can frustrate customers before they ever lay hands on your product and send them scrambling for the unsubscribe button.
  • Not done at all, you risk pushing your products and brand into commodity territory, where customers have no real opinions.

Not only that, having a consistently great post-purchase (or post-checkout) strategy can set you apart from your competition.

For our purposes, we’ll define the post-purchase experience as any and all interactions you create from the moment the customer clicks “buy” until your product is used, consumed, or worked into the customer’s routine. The start point is clear; the end point depends on what you’re selling and how your customers tend to use and reorder it.

7 post-purchase strategies every ecommerce store should implement

Getting a post-purchase experience strategy in place is a top ecommerce best practice. But forming a real strategy takes more thought and planning than simply throwing together some emails. (Some businesses set up a glorified sales funnel for the very product the customer just bought — even if it doesn’t make sense to buy it again anytime soon!)

It takes finesse to create a powerful post-purchase experience that delights and helps without getting in the way or creating frustration. Below, we’ll discuss top post-purchase experience strategies. We won’t talk about shipping and order fulfillment, but you can check out our post on ecommerce shipping best practices if you want that kind of information. 

Use these seven proven strategies to thread that needle and create powerful, long-lasting customer loyalty.

1) Give your shoppers a proactive customer service experience

First, you want to deliver a proactive customer service experience by reaching out to the customer just after their item arrives. Don’t wait for them to come to you if there’s a problem — invite their feedback, questions, or concerns proactively, and give them clear avenues to contact you if they need to.

This is an important step for building a better customer experience because new customers might not know exactly where to go or who to contact for a lesser problem.

Obviously, if the product arrives shattered or otherwise destroyed, they’re going to do what it takes to initiate a replacement. But what if they just can’t figure out how Piece A attaches to Hex Bolt X?

When you make it easy for customers to reach you — and invite them to do so before they thrash you on social media or leave a one-star review — you’re already on your way toward creating more positive experiences throughout the purchase journey.

One practical way to get in front of possible customer service needs is returns. Some percentage of your customers will want to know how to return their purchase, so go ahead and get proactive on this. Provide that information (or a link to it) in your initial post-delivery email. Don’t make users go searching for it.

And while returns are necessary, they’re not great for your revenue. Learn how to reduce returns.

Example

Plenty of online retailers are already sending this kind of proactive customer service communication. Oral health ecommerce company Boka is one example. They sell a different kind of toothpaste, one that’s not common in the US, so they have an uphill marketing battle since they face quite a bit of unfamiliarity.

A few days after I received my first shipment of toothpaste from the company, they followed up with an email titled “So, what did you think?”

The email invites new customers to provide feedback and report problems or concerns. If a customer brings something to light, the company then has the chance to proactively intervene.

2) Set up and launch post-purchase email campaigns

The post-purchase email campaign is the key to most ecommerce post-purchase experiences. It’s the place where most ecommerce brands either succeed or struggle in terms of messaging, appropriateness, and general usefulness.

We’re not talking about transactional emails here, like the typical “we got your order” and order confirmation emails. Those are important and can, for what it’s worth, be loaded up with great little marketing strategy optimizations along these same lines. But here we’re talking about additional, non-obligatory email campaigns.

So what should your post-purchase email campaigns look like? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. It depends on what you’re selling and how your customers use it. Here are a few options that will make sense for many businesses though:

  • How-to content: Tutorial videos, use cases, explainers, or links to FAQs can be helpful while the customer is waiting for the item to arrive or as the customer is learning the item. (More on this in the next section.)
  • Add-on sales and product recommendations: Do you sell other items that would enhance the customer’s experience with what they already bought? They might not have seen the need before (in an upsell or cross-sell attempt), but now with the product in hand, they may be ready to buy.
  • Loyalty program invites: If you have a loyalty program and the first time customer hasn’t joined it yet, now could be a great time to pull them in.

Don’t forget the importance of personalization as you craft these email campaigns. Don’t send new customers and repeat customers the same emails, and don’t send generic sequences that could apply to any scenario. Customize these campaigns and use as much personalization as you can (customers’ first names are a good place to start).

Not sure where to start on these email campaigns? Check out 16 Useful Email Templates for Your Customer Service Teams.

Example

Method soaps are all built around the eco-friendly principle of refilling, keeping waste to a minimum (and as it happens, strongly pushing repeat purchase decisions and driving up customer lifetime value). The company sends replenishment emails that nudge customers to purchase those refills, often with a special, time-limited discount attached.

3) Deliver important how-to and use case content

If the product you’re selling requires some setup or assembly or has features that go beyond the basics, one form of post-purchase communication you’ll want to focus on is tutorial-style content. You want to show customers how to use or set up their new product so they get maximum benefit from it.

Explain the importance of content that can show customers how to properly use or set up your product or even creative alternative ways to do things with your product — both because this is the right thing to do and because it tends to lead to loyal customers who make repeat purchases.

You might also include use case content, messaging that shines a light on new or unexpected ways to use your product. Again, the goal here is to drive better customer experiences that then encourage higher repeat and referral sales.

Example

D2C ecommerce retailer Bug Bite Thing is a Shark Tank alumni that offers one primary product: a plastic suction contraption that reduces the severity of stings and bites, including from mosquitoes.

Unless you’ve used their exact product, you’ve probably never seen anything remotely similar.

This is both a marketing challenge and an opportunity. If people order the product and use it wrong, it won’t work, and they won’t be happy.

The company sends an excellent tutorial email to all customers, titled something like “How to Use Bug Bite Thing!” The email contains bright, clear instructions with custom GIFs that show exactly what to do with the thing.

Learn more about more customer service trends like self-service.

4) Follow up a purchase with rewards and loyalty programs

If you have a loyalty program, the post-purchase timeframe is the perfect time to plug it. You’ll get your brand back in front of eyeballs while impressions are still fresh, and if you can get them to sign up now, you’ll turn more existing customers into long-term fans.

And if you don’t have a loyalty program, strongly consider starting one. One retail management platform found that 58.7% of internet users indicated loyalty points or rewards as one of the aspects of retail shopping they valued most!

Loyalty program or not, you can also send discounts or rewards during this period, sweetening the pot for a second purchase and producing an even better post-purchase customer experience.

Example

Loyalty programs are ubiquitous these days, from the loyalty punch card (or app-based version) at your local coffee shop to paid VIP programs like what Barnes & Noble offers.

5) Provide plenty of opportunities for feedback (and ask directly)

Your customers want to have quick and easy access to you if they need it, especially if they need information or are frustrated, so be sure to provide plenty of opportunities for feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask directly, either — it shows that you care about the customer experience.

You can solicit feedback in the form of reviews, by using a chatbot or human chat agents on your site, or even inviting users to reply to your email (as long as your system is set up to handle that).

Example

Amazon and the millions of third-party sellers that use it come to mind here. We’ve all gotten those third-party vendor emails asking for customer feedback and reviews, which vendors use to bolster customer relationships as well as their own Amazon standing.

6) Invite customers to join your brand communities

If your brand has any official online communities, the post-purchase period is the perfect time to invite customers to join. Doing so can build up greater customer loyalty by building a sense of community — and it can even save you money.

One conversion rate industry leader found that nearly half of businesses that had online communities saw between 10 and 25 percent savings in customer support costs. Customers got their answers from communities instead!

Online communities can take shape on social media or on community or collaboration platforms like Slack and Discord. Whatever makes sense for your business, leverage it into greater customer relationships and higher customer lifetime values.

Example

Instant Pot is a well-known consumer brand that has leveraged the power of online communities to grow its brand. It has a large, active official Facebook group, and it’s active on other social spaces too. Additionally, the brand has managed to get its product mentioned on all sorts of mommy blogs, cooking and recipe sites, and more.

7) Have an omnichannel support strategy to engage customers after purchase

Thus far we’ve been discussing customer service in the post-purchase period, but this last tip is about customer support instead.

Many successful brands have moved to an omnichannel support strategy, one that’s customer-centric and delivers a consistent answer across all avenues where a customer might reach you. CRM systems make omnichannel more feasible, as do back-end ecommerce platforms and systems that can sync experiences across all channels.

Social listening (tracking brand mentions and customer feedback) and customer support play an elevated role here. The goal is to ensure that no matter where your already-paying customers are, you can hear them and respond to their conversations.

Example

REI is one company that does omnichannel well. From their clubs to their website and app to their social channels, REI offers a consistent experience. In its retail channels, product information remains up to date: Generally, you can trust their online indicators of whether an item is in stock in-store.

Building the best post-purchase experience starts with Gorgias

While a post-purchase experience entails more than just customer support and helpdesk services, you can’t build a top-quality post-purchase experience without these crucial functions.

Gorgias is the world’s best helpdesk and customer service platform for ecommerce businesses. It was built specifically for ecommerce and has the features, integrations, and flexibility you need to create the best possible post-purchase experience.

See more about what Gorgias can do and sign up for free today!

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