Modern logistics factory

Peak seasons come around frequently, bringing with them heightened consumer activity. With ongoing economic uncertainty, consumers are increasingly comparing prices to secure the best deals. In fact, 71% of consumers changed brands at least once last year, with better deals being the main reason for their switch.

However, in addition to cost, customer experience is also impacting buying decisions. This includes the post-purchase experience, where the customer has clicked the ‘buy’ button and waits for their items to arrive – here, customers expect to be updated on the status of their deliveries via timely communications.

Recent research found that a staggering three quarters of retail leaders are planning to invest in the post-purchase experience as they look towards another busy retail peak season. This leaves those who haven’t invested at risk of falling behind the competition.

So, how can companies differentiate? And what can they do to improve their post-purchase experiences ahead of peak season?

Acknowledge the value of the post-purchase experience

Before investing in the post-purchase experience, you need to know why you are doing so. Why is it so important?

Well, in a peak period where customer loyalty can be tested, it could be a key factor for retail leaders looking to differentiate their brand. Not only does it facilitate the smooth delivery of the product, but the experience has a direct impact on both the customer, with their satisfaction and loyalty, and the brand, with its reputation and revenue.

If all goes to plan, a delivery makes its way from dispatched to delivered with minimal issues. But mistakes happen, and when parcel journeys don’t go according to plan, whether they get delayed or go amiss, that is when the post-purchase experience is even more important. 2023 data found that 79% of consumers wouldn’t shop with a brand again if the post-purchase experience was bad.

So, businesses need to adequately invest in these experiences to make sure they remain competitive and thrive not only during this peak season, but beyond it.

Be proactive with branded communications

What exactly makes up the post-purchase experience? Well, the post-purchase journey involves a range of different elements working together alongside the actual delivery of the product – like delivery communication, tracking, customer support, returns and exchanges, and follow-up communication. How effectively, promptly and engagingly you carry out post-purchase communications can have a direct impact on customer retention rates and encourage more purchases immediately after the sale or in the future.

Rather than handing over shipping updates to a carrier, for example, adopting your own branded communication journey can deliver a consistency that is key to building brand affinity, trust and loyalty. This gives you control over what content you are communicating, meaning every piece of copy and content can be tailored to your brand and provides you with the ability to create any upsell opportunities.

What’s more, implementing proactive delivery communications allows you to stay in control of the situation if deliveries do go wrong and you are faced with a mountain of “Where is my order?” enquiries. If customers aren’t kept in the loop with their delivery or informed as to why promises aren’t being kept, that is when dissatisfaction can grow, and loyalty be tested.

By being proactive, you can manage expectations, spotting issues before they happen, communicating the reasons behind them, offering your apologies to customers, and then explaining how you will rectify the problem.

Measure impact and improve

It’s all well and good investing in the post-purchase experience, but how are you doing it? How effective is it? If you can’t measure your investment and improve on it, then you could be needlessly wasting money and not getting the best ROI possible.

This is where tools like a central delivery dashboard, for example, can be used to show data from multiple carriers, all in one place. This could be used to help customer service agents access tracking info quickly and efficiently, making sure response times and fast and costs stay low.

You can also measure factors such as first-time delivery success. For example, what types of service did customers ask for and how successfully did carriers meet those time slots? This can then be balanced against factors such as shipping costs and carrier activity (who is delivering the most effectively but also economically). This all ties into the key question on delivery experience: Are you meeting customer promises?

With all of this data available, you can then measure the impact of your post-purchase experience and see how you can improve on it.

Achieving peak post-purchase performance

In periods of economic volatility, with fluctuating inflation rates and variable food prices, customer behaviour during peak seasons can be challenging to forecast. What’s easier to predict is that the post-purchase experience could make the difference between keeping and losing them. There’s a reason why so many retail leaders are looking to invest in it – it can play a vital role in customer loyalty and a brand’s bottom line.

By implementing branded, consistent and proactive communication, you can create a joined-up post-purchase experience that keeps the customer informed of their delivery, allows you to communicate and resolve any issues, and means you can market any further opportunities. Crucially, to see the full ROI benefits of the investment, technology such as a delivery dashboard can show a variety of data points whereby you can measure and improve the impact of the experience.

In peak season, how you invest in your post-purchase experience can make the difference in marking yourself out from the crowd.