How to sell after the sale

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Post-purchase communications are a major commercial opportunity for retailers and brands if handled right, says Rory O’Connor, founder and CEO of delivery management platform, Scurri.

Post-purchase communications are far more than a simple courtesy or a fingers-crossed hope that the customer will buy again, they are the opportunity to start a relationship that should have as its goals more frequent purchase, higher transaction values and long-term loyalty.

This is a two-way street rather than a sales and marketing push, meaning that customers welcome these communications as long as they are handled well. This goes beyond the conventional mechanics of simply sending tracking updates in order to cut WISMO queries, important as that is, as Scurri’s research of 1000 UK consumers shows.

Immediately after post-purchase and following confirmation of order, consumers look for evidence that the order is being processed. 38% of respondents always opened tracking/ shipping updates while 34% will always open these emails to ensure there are no delays. Generally, consumers have confidence that the order will arrive wherever they might be when the courier arrives, but 24% say that will open shipping updates if they are not going to be home to receive their order.

However, once brands start to recognise that these emails have the additional important benefit of being step one in building relationships, they will need to think about who is sending them out – the brand or the courier. 53% of respondents find receiving unbranded updates from a carrier or courier company confusing as they don’t always know which order it is referring to – increasing to 65% of Gen Z and Millennials.

As a result, 20% will only open updates if they know which parcel the notification relates to (often missing from courier tracking updates) and 19% will only open updates if they can identify which retailer or brand is trying to communicate with them.

Updates that come from the brand perform better and should therefore be incorporated into the wider communications strategy. 53% say tracking updates should come from the retailer rather than a delivery partner.

As a result, 81% will always open emails from a retailer or brand if they contain an update on the progress of a delivery, while 71% of respondents have more confidence in the update information if sent directly by the retailer. 44% say receiving personalised tracking/shipping updates gives them more confidence in the brand they are buying from.

At the same time, 69% of respondents are more wary of unbranded or third party delivery updates as they think they might be scams; this increases to 76% for Gen Z.

Accepting the value of retailer branded post purchase updates, it is then important to understand how to add commercial content without upsetting the customer. In the research, 61% of consumers say personalised offers in tracking updates are a marketing technique to get them to spend more money.

However, 55% are happy to receive personalised offers in updates but only if they can opt out of ongoing brand communications once the item is delivered, and 53% are happy to receive personalised offers in tracking updates but only if they are not sent too frequently.

There are other details that brands need to get right before simply adding updates with offers. Split testing or closer profiling will deal with the following division of preferences - 47% say personalised offers in shipping updates are trying to get them to buy last season’s items or slow-moving stock, 42% say receiving personalised offers in updates is a benefit that makes them more likely to repeat purchase.

One solution is to use these updates to introduce new products and series; 41% say personalised offers in tracking / shipping updates would make them more likely to try new products or ranges from the retailer.

A deeper understanding of how consumers think about post purchase emails will lead to higher response rates. A classic example is peak periods when brands naturally go into marketing overdrive. The figures seem to bear out this activity - 41% of respondents believe promotional periods such as Black Friday offer genuine savings - increasing to 57% of Gen Z and 58% of Millennials.

However, consider that 33% of Gen X and 38% of Baby Boomers don’t think promotional periods offer genuine savings, while 65% of all respondents believe better deals than those on offer during promotional periods such as Black Friday are available at other times during the year.

The recent cost of living crisis which still overshadows spending is actually an opportunity for brands that understand how consumers have changed their spending habits. 51% agree the cost-of-living crisis has made them more likely to participate in promotional shopping events – increasing to 65% of Gen Z and 68% of Millennials. And 41% say they will participate in shopping holiday events such as Amazon Prime Day in 2024 – increasing to 57% of Gen Z and 64% of Millennials.

Ticking the box on post purchase communications has value but it is nothing to the revenue and LTV benefits of a long-term strategy, particularly one that can respond to individual customer preferences. 

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