How to set up post-purchase tracking software.

January 14, 2021

Looking to get started with post-purchase tracking software? With different options, partners and systems choices, it can be tricky to know which route to take.

We’ve broken down the ‘need-to-know’ as a check list to help you ask the right questions and choose the right route for your business.

WHAT IS POST-PURCHASE TRACKING SOFTWARE?

Post-purchase tracking software, sometimes referred to as ‘shipment tracking software’, is used by retailers, brands and their customers to check where a parcel is up to on its delivery journey.

Tracking information is commonly made available on tracking web pages and can sometimes also be embedded into apps, websites and integrated with customer service, CRM or ecommerce platforms. On top of that, proactive delivery tracking updates can be sent out through loads of different channels; such as emails, SMS or push notifications. Having a 5* post-purchase customer experience (CX) is often top of the wish list for retailers and brands, and those that achieve it usually use a combination of the above channels for their customer delivery tracking.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

Customers may have high expectations, but letting them track their deliveries is basic hygiene.

A recent survey from IMRG found that 82% of consumers want tracking to be provided by the seller. When done right, post-purchase tracking can increase CSAT and NPS, boost brand engagement and significantly reduce those ‘where is my order’ (WISMO) customer contacts. We’ve found that 80% of all customer contacts are WISMO related for some retailers – and with each contact costing between £4-6 to resolve, it’s an expensive headache to have.

WHAT OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE?

When looking to connect customers with delivery tracking, retailers and brands will usually choose between opting for carrier-hosted tracking or a specialist post-purchase software provider.

CARRIER HOSTED TRACKING

The tracking offering varies from carrier to carrier. The standard is for carriers to provide a tracking reference, that can be used to access delivery updates via a carrier branded tracking page. For example, Royal Mail require customers to type in their tracking number or click a link to load the latest delivery information on their website.

Some carriers offer apps, requiring the customer to download something to their smartphone in order to track (like the Hermes app, for example).

Often, for an extra fee, you can subscribe to get carrier delivery communications (such as SMS or email updates) sent to your customers directly through the carrier and their comms providers.

SPECIALIST PROVIDER

Exactly how the specialist provider offers delivery tracking will vary – but, very often, the direct carrier offering can be matched or enhanced.

If you search Google for post-purchase tracking or shipment tracking software, you’ll get a fair few hits to add to your review list. From basic tracking providers geared towards the sole or smaller traders, to those that are aimed at medium or enterprise retailers and brands. You’ll find there are companies focusing solely on tracking and post-purchase comms, and others who cover everything from pre- to post- purchase journey.

Worth noting – providers may have access to special rates for comms channels like email and SMS; so it’s worth asking to see if there’s a potential saving.

Sorted’s delivery experience platform connects the full journey, from when your customer hits your online checkout right through to final mile delivery.

WHAT SOLUTION IS RIGHT FOR ME?

When considering post-purchase tracking software, there are five key areas you should assess when weighing up cost against potential ROI.

 

1. CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

The first question to ask yourself: which digital channels do your customers use, and where do you want to serve them? For example, if your customers browse and buy in your app, do they want their delivery tracking embedded there too?

Your post-purchase tracking partner should serve the channels that you need. Meeting customers where they are can drive significant improvement in the overall CX. Jonathan Beirne, Head of Customer at musicMagpie, sums this up perfectly in a recent video interview: ‘We just need to make sure that we are wherever the customer wants us to be’.

In recent years, CX has aligned with employee experience (EX). Very logical indeed. CX and EX should work in harmony. Allowing your customers to conveniently self-serve delivery updates will reduce WISMO contacts. This frees up those busy customer service agents to handle more complex enquiries, and really wow your customers. A powerful post-purchase tracking partner will arm your staff with the insight they need to deal with these complex enquiries easily too – raising your first time resolution metrics thanks to digestible data dashboards.

Your customers are human, and your employees are human too. It’s often your frontline customer service agents who can make or break a customer experience. And when it goes right – that’s when your CSAT and NPS gets a boost.

Gartner is taking the CX & EX trend a step further in their 2021 Tech Trends report, predicting that organisations focusing on ‘Total Experience’ (combining CX, EX, UX and multi-experience) will outperform the competition over the next three years. Look for a tracking partner that can help connect people, tech and data to deliver a connected experience that wows everyone involved.

2. BRAND

You may be happy to pass your customer to a third-party carrier website or app. Perhaps because you’re a smaller retailer who works with a single carrier, or because you prefer your carrier to be fully responsible for tracking.

If owning and branding the whole delivery experience is important to you, look for a partner that will let you control the whole post-purchase journey. What’s important to you?

Consider a solution that provides features like multi-parcel branded tracking pages from your trusted custom domain, where you can immerse the customer in your visual identity and tone of voice (whilst also improving SEO – winner). Maybe you’re looking for customisable shipping states, so tracking language makes sense to your customer. Or maybe it’s embeddable tracking for apps, which can drive app adoption and increase upsell opportunities.

Check how flexible your potential partner is, and what levels of customisation they offer. If protecting your brand is important to you, it should be important to your partner too.

3. SCALABILITY

With Ecommerce having grown 10 years in a matter of months, scalability is perhaps more relevant than ever before. Don’t just think about now, think about the future too.

When evaluating a post-purchase tracking partner, ask whether they will be able to grow with you and your shipment volumes, or support you in managing multiple brands. It may be that you want to start out simple (branded tracking pages should be configurable in minutes), but you need one eye on expansion and growth.

Release plans are important here. Check whether your potential partners are on a continuous release schedule (which means you will be able to access regular new features whenever they are ready), or whether development and improvements are slower to be implemented. Does your potential partner have plans to add new carriers to their portfolio and what’s the process if you need to track new carrier services?

Your post-purchase tracking partner should be ready to grow with you.

4. DATA QUALITY

Check what dashboards and reporting tools your potential partners offer.

Data should be easy to digest, so your team are happy and customer issue resolution is smooth.

It’s not just the pretty dashboards that are important though, it’s what’s under the bonnet that counts. If you’re looking at a specialist provider, be sure to discuss how they get their data. There are two main ways they could do this: the partnership approach or the scraping method. The partnership approach means that they work alongside and integrate directly with carriers, ensuring a speedy, high performance of data transfer. This often means a higher quality of data too – such as more insight on parcel status or delivery route updates. The scraping method is quick and easy for providers, but can also put pressure on a carrier’s website speed and performance. In the past some carriers have chosen to block scraping activity for this reason, so there’s the risk of tracking outages for post-purchase tracking providers who use this method to get their data.

5. EASE OF SET-UP

If you decide to opt for a specialist provider, find out how their software is implemented and what support is offered. 24/7 service desk access should be standard.

It should be as easy as possible for you.

If it’s a software as a service (SaaS) partner, documentation should be public and should be easy to consume for your tech teams. Find out whether you can access this technical documentation and API information upfront, so you can check how much internal development time will be required (of course, you’ll need the IT team bought in…). Our tech docs can be found here, if you fancy a look.

Hopefully, you’re all set with some tips on how to get started buying and setting up post-purchase tracking software.

CX is an ever-changing landscape (check out our CX guide here, for expert trend predictions and tips), so having the right partner is key to creating connected experiences for your customer. Check out SortedREACT, for more info on post-purchase tracking and, of course, you can always get in touch with us here if you’d like to chat more about delivering 5* CX.