The Scary Truth About Delivering a Bad Holiday Post-purchase Experience

It’s Halloween—that spookiest time of year when ghosts, skeletons, and witches on broomsticks run amok. But more than the ghouls and goblins that might make an appearance this All Hallow’s Eve, what really strikes fear into the hearts of retailers is realizing that Christmas is less than two months away.

Happy-Halloween-retail

The Holiday season can feel chaotic, intense, and downright scary for retailers that haven’t gotten ahead of the craziness before it hits full-force. But while many are scrambling to stay on top of Holiday marketing campaigns, seasonal staffing and sales, and stocking stuffer inventory management, there’s one important aspect of Holiday shopping that often gets overlooked: post-purchase. And when you start to think about it, that’s a scary thing.

Below, we highlight a few reasons why retailers should be shaking in their boots at the thought of a bad Holiday post-purchase experience.

A missing EDD or return policy can turn a happy customer into an abandoned shopping cart.

When shopping online for gifts, consumers want information before clicking ‘Purchase’. This is particularly true if they’ve never bought anything from you before. If the consumer can’t easily find the information they need on your website to ensure confidence, you can bet she’ll probably abandon her cart and move her search elsewhere.

An extended return period during the holidays could be the deciding factor for gift shoppers, so you should highlight any pro-customer policy changes you plan to implement. Delivery timeframes are another critical component of the holiday purchase decision, particularly for last-minute shoppers. 60% of online shoppers say they are more likely to choose a retailer that can tell them the exact date a package will arrive, so you should be able to give customers a clear estimated delivery date (EDD) at checkout if you want them to complete their purchases.

More WISMO calls + understaffed call centers = a lot of frustrated customers.

During the Holiday season, 82% of consumers ship gifts directly to the recipient (The State of Post-purchase Experience, 2017). This only raises the stakes for being able to set clear expectations about gift deliveries upfront. It’s important to be communicative and accessible at each touchpoint of the gift buyer’s journey, or customers will start reaching out to find out where the heck their orders are—and during this busy time of year, they probably won’t be very happy about that.

One way to avoid this is by implementing branded order tracking pages to inform your customers of their order’s journey. In addition to keeping customers in the loop about their gift purchases, an on-brand tracking experience—complete with delivery status, location information, and more—also offers the chance to reinforce your brand identity and inspire more trust with the customer. A branded tracking page ultimately serves as a control center, allowing customers to check in on, redirect, or hold their packages to ensure they reach the gift recipients on time and at the right address. When you send a customer to UPS, USPS, FedEx, DHL, or any other carrier’s website for updates, you relinquish control over your experience. A branded tracking experience, on the other hand, lets you own and control your relationship with the consumer—and see less WISMO (“Where Is My Order”) calls as a result.

Delivery delays are especially problematic during the holidays.

It’s one thing when you’re expecting a package and it comes a little late in the middle of July; it’s another entirely when you’re expecting a gift to arrive before Christmas, it doesn’t show up on time, and you had no idea it wouldn’t arrive before everyone is gathered around the tree. Giving customers a head’s up about a gift’s delay can make all the difference in maintaining a positive relationship.

While carrier operations may be out of your hands, you can control how they communicate with customers should any disruptions occur, and how you approach issues on the backend by gaining more visibility what went wrong. If you’re able to see and analyze exception trends across order dates, carriers, DC locations, and more, for example, you’ll be better equipped to pinpoint problem areas during the busy Holiday season and take action where necessary.

A bad Holiday returns experience can cost you two customers instead of one.

Around 10% of all purchases get returned around the holiday season. If retailers aren’t prepared for that influx, they run the risk of losing two potential loyal customers—the gifter and the giftee—in the process. Retailers who don’t make the effort to curate a consumer-friendly returns experience are poised to lose out to those that do.

But it’s not all bad news. Particularly after the holidays, returns offer an exciting marketing opportunity for businesses looking to acquire new fans. Returns add an additional interaction within the shopping journey—a chance to make a strong impression and keep customers coming back, or inspire gift recipients to interact more with your brand. Customers who have a positive return experience are likely to become repeat purchasers according to Narvar research: 95% of customers who are satisfied with a retailer’s returns process say they’ll purchase with that retailer again.

As you can see, there are a few big reasons to be afraid of delivering a bad Holiday post-purchase experience to your customers. Luckily, by downloading our latest eBook you can learn how to curate an experience that customers love, and that will allow you to survive and thrive during the tail end of the year.