How Innovating the Post-Purchase Experience Can Keep Consumers Coming Back

The customer journey extends beyond the sale

A cottage industry is popping up around the post-purchase experience. Getty Images, Shopify
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

One of the worst parts about online shopping today? Tracking a package. Whether it’s copying and pasting a dreadfully long tracking code or being prompted to log in using an often faulty link, the experience of following the shipment of a purchase can be tedious. Improving this process often requires a heavy investment that many retailers aren’t able to make.

That’s where companies like Narvar, Shopify and Octane AI are carving out a cottage industry in the post-purchase experience (such as package location tracking), which is becoming increasingly necessary as retailers and brands grapple with retaining customers as part of their bricks-and-clicks strategy. In a 2013 Econsultancy study, 70 percent of companies surveyed said it’s cheaper to retain a consumer than to keep acquiring new ones.

“The post-purchase experience is vital for online retailers because by this point, they know more about the customer, such as purchasing traits, color preferences, stylistic choices, delivery methods and much more,” said Neil Stewart, CEO of Wunderman Commerce. “Brands can then engage with the customer and offer them tailored deals specific to them.”

In a new report by Narvar, a customer experience company, 54 percent of shoppers stated they would keep buying from a company that accurately tells them when their package will arrive—and it’s no surprise why, given how many packages are stolen from porches and steps.

Narvar works with more than 450 retailers, offering them various customer experience solutions such as creating a landing page that tracks packages and lets customers sign up for updates via text or Facebook Messenger.

“Consumers expect more from the retailer [and] they expect to be engaged about ‘where is my package,’” said Amit Sharma, founder and CEO of Narvar.

One of Narvar’s clients, Finish Line, made post-purchase a priority in the past year because it determined that customers want a great end-to-end buying experience.

“We have to continue to evolve to not only meet but exceed our customer expectations,” said Danielle Quatrochi, svp of digital customer experience and innovation at Finish Line. “They are choosing where they want to buy and so we have to give them a reason to buy with us.”

For example, Finish Line used to receive a high volume of customer calls about package tracking. After using Narvar’s Engage product to give customers package-tracking information, the company saw these calls decrease by 50 percent. The tracking page also highlights new items that redirect to the brand’s website and lets customers get tracking updates via text. In the first six months of using Narvar, Finish Line saw a 17.6 percent opt-in rate for SMS updates and a 25 percent click-through rate.

Narvar isn’t the only company breathing new life into delivery package tracking. Arrive, an iOS app from Shopify, pulls tracking codes from any order email in a consumer’s Gmail account into one handy app—no need to click through to another website or copy and paste anything. Released in November 2017, some individual users have tracked as many as 1,000 packages through Arrive, with some averaging 200 deliveries a month.

Businesses are connected to more than 1 million people via Octane AI's conversational platform on Facebook Messenger.

“There’s no consumer who wants to have 20 apps just to keep track of their purchasing,” said Robleh Jama, senior product manager at Shopify. “It’s a unique problem that is going to be very prominent in general as more people go from casual online shoppers to power online shoppers.”

With Arrive, shoppers can track where their package is through a map. If there’s a problem, a consumer can contact the company directly from the app.

“We tried to do the heavy lifting for the buyers and consumers,” Jama said. “We look at what we’re doing as a way to take away that pain and extra steps when you’re shopping.”

Then, there’s a company like Octane AI, a bot platform that’s created conversational commerce opportunities for more than 100 stores and brands. With Octane AI’s ecommerce offerings, companies can automate responses to common questions, help consumers pick out the right product based on what they like, remind consumers of an abandoned cart and automatically send package notifications and receipts. Brands who use Octane AI’s tools see an average of 7 percent to 25 percent increase in revenue and a 75 percent read rate on Messenger.

Moving the purchase experience off cold marketing emails and into chatbots and messaging gives consumers more power by letting them choose when to respond to something—and helps brands form a better relationship with them, shared Ben Parr, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Octane AI.

“Traditionally, it’s been an email blast after purchase,” said Parr. “It’s OK, but it’s also annoying and you’re actually not personalizing anything or learning anything new.”

This story first appeared in the May 7, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@itstheannmarie Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.