Countdown to Christmas:
3 Ways E-Commerce Companies Can Build Loyalty
As the seasons change and summer recedes into fall, e-commerce platforms around the world are getting ready for the pivotal holiday shopping season. With shoppers expected to spend more than $1.3 trillion this year, companies have millions of reasons to put their best foot forward.
While many e-commerce companies dedicate their efforts to creating a compelling customer experience to convert browsers into buyers, forward-thinking companies can outpace the competition by also giving attention to the post-purchase experience, including order tracking, return policies, and cart abandonment.
Here are three ways e-commerce companies can make the most of this holiday shopping season by emphasizing post-purchase customer experiences as part of their holistic buyer engagement strategies.
Forward-thinking e-commerce companies can outpace the competition by giving attention to the post-purchase experience, including order tracking, return policies, and cart abandonment.
1. Enable Real-Time Order Tracking
2. Enact a Reasonable Return Policy
3. Engage Customers Who Walk Away
People love shopping online. It’s fast, easy, and convenient, except when delivery anxiety creeps in and ruins the moment, prompting customers to rethink the efficacy of online shopping.
Delivery anxiety is a ubiquitous experience for online shoppers, especially around the holidays when delayed deliveries mean their friends and loved ones will miss their presents on Christmas morning.
Real-time order tracking helps assuage this concern, and buyers say it makes the shopping experience more enjoyable and encourages them to be more loyal. According to one survey from the logistics company DHL, 70 percent of respondents wanted regular status updates on their order transit progress.
Online retailers and brands are killing two proverbial birds with one stone by integrating order tracking into the checkout process and subsequent follow-up communications.
First, they are proactively reducing workloads for their customer support teams, which are often inundated with inquiries from concerned shoppers worried their orders won’t make it to their destination on time. DHL’s survey found that providing real-time shipping status information reduces inbound “Where Is My Order” (WISMO) calls by up to 20 percent.
At the same time, they are cultivating customer relationships and brand loyalty that drive revenue during the holiday shopping season and beyond.
Online shopping and returns often go hand-in-hand. Since shoppers can see items in person or try on clothes before buying, an eye-popping amount of merchandise makes its way back to retailers every year.
According to a recent New Yorker analysis, “the annual retail value of returned goods in the U.S. is said to be approaching a trillion dollars.”
Customers, trained first by Zappos and then by Amazon, are not bothered, returning more than 16 percent of all online purchases, prompting many companies to adjust their return policies for clothes, shoes, and other items.
As a recent Atlantic headline loudly declared, “The Free-Returns Party is Over.”
However, online retailers can’t just ignore the practical necessity of returns, especially when people buy sight unseen online. A Salesforce analysis found that 79 percent of shoppers will abandon their carts if free returns are not offered at checkout, underscoring the need for e-commerce platforms to enact a reasonable return policy that accommodates shoppers' concerns without eroding other priorities.
Fortunately, most customers don't anticipate limitless returns, and they will accept a straightforward and reasonable return policy that builds trust and fosters customer loyalty.
Digital gifting programs are an absolute must for both younger shoppers and retailers. Younger consumers plan to purchase 7 digital gift cards this holiday season, compared to older generations that plan to purchase 3 on average. eGifting programs can be implemented and adapted quickly and allow merchants to connect and engage with consumers whenever and wherever they are.
When it comes to holiday spend, younger generations also plan to use secondary payment types much more often than older generations, which can create new opportunities for revenue streams and promotions. While debit, cash and credit card payments remain the top three payment options among all generations surveyed, many younger shoppers will also look to store or credit card points (39%), mobile wallets (37%) and physical gift cards (37%) to pay for holiday gifts this year.
As Gen Z consumers continue to wield their influence and spending power this holiday season, consider expanding programs to include some of the newest ways to attract and engage young consumers while maintaining engaging relationships with older shoppers.
To make the most of this holiday shopping season, e-commerce platforms can’t just focus on the initial sale. By implementing real-time order tracking, enacting a reasonable return policy, and proactively engaging customers who abandon their carts, retailers not only stand to improve customer satisfaction but also cultivate long-term loyalty.