Closing the Post-Purchase Customer Experience Gap

Today, every retail brand worth its salt knows that delivering exceptional online customer experiences is critical to success. Consumers increasingly demand compelling, personalised and content-rich digital services and promotions delivered to their preferred channel at the right time. Brands that provide these experiences stand to win the loyalty of what has become an increasingly capricious consumer base. Those that don’t, risk being left behind.

This trend is now well understood in the retail space; and as a result, retailers have for the most part embraced the digital transformation of their customer acquisition and sales experiences. In a survey last year, 80% of retail executives in the UK said they were enthusiastic about digital disruption and 96% of executives from all sectors said they are taking measures to ensure that their business stays at the forefront of innovation. The effect of these changes is clear to see: it’s never been easier for consumers to research or buy products online, while marketing communications have never been more relevant, context-aware or proactive.

However, these changes are not yet consistently applied throughout the entire end-to-end customer journey, and as a result there’s still a significant gap between the very best customer experiences and those of most retailers. This is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the critical post-purchase experience: the period between a customer clicking the ‘buy’ button and their purchase arriving.

A recent Narvar research study of UK consumers revealed the extent of the post purchase customer experience gap. When asked which company offers the best post-purchase experiences, Amazon led the pack at 35%; well ahead of the second-placed company: John Lewis at just 8%. It appears from these results that when it comes to the post-purchase experience, Amazon is still a hugely disruptive force.

The good news for retailers is that this gap in the post-purchase experience offers a clear path of rapid differentiation and a new way to increase customer loyalty. Brands that can close this gap the quickest stand to benefit from a significant competitive differentiator.

What do retailers need to do to improve their post-purchase experiences?

Our research gave some clear indications:

  1. Transform your returns policy: 56% of UK consumers cite poor returns or exchange policies as a barrier to making a purchase from an online retailer
  2. Enhance the delivery experience: 65% of respondents say that a bad delivery experience would stop them making repeat purchases from an online retailer
  3. Communicate clearly: 61% of UK shoppers would be encouraged to return to a brand that provided direct and fact communications around their order

The key is to take the lessons retailers have learned about delivering exceptional experiences to customers during the acquisition and sales phases and apply them to the post-purchase phase. Companies that personalise post-purchase experiences such as orders, delivery updates, returns, service and care – and enrich them with relevant content and communications – will be able to create a holistic brand experience that delights customers and keeps them coming back for more.