Anyone who has kept a close eye on the development of the ecommerce world will have seen the gradual shift of brands toward customer engagement. Never before had we seen online retailers try to create value for customers in more ways than their product offerings.
Today, however, companies are on the lookout for newer ways to keep customers happy throughout their pre and post-purchase journeys. After all, acquiring a new customer is 10x more expensive than nurturing an existing one. This article aims to provide online merchants with the best tips and tricks to improve the pre and post-purchase experience of their customers.
Why Do Online Retailers Need a Customer Engagement Plan?
A customer engagement strategy aims to build an ongoing positive relationship between a brand and its customers. Today, a brand is much more than just the merchandise it sells. How you connect with your customers directly impacts their loyalty and engagement.
This, in turn, translates into a greater return on investment and higher customer lifetime value (LTV). Therefore, having an excellent customer engagement plan is of the essence. Happy customers act as brand ambassadors and bring more loyal fans to your store.
Let’s look at the many ways in which you can breed engagement and growth by providing value to your customers throughout their shopping experience.
The Pre-Purchase Customer Engagement Checklist
The pre-purchase journey starts from the first point of contact between you and your customer. How they see your brand makes an immense difference in whether they will ever shop from you.
Therefore, setting the right tone from the get-go is very important. Below, we’ll look at 6 ways in which you can help create a positive pre-purchase experience for your shoppers.
1. Optimize Product Pages
Since online shopping does not have the advantage of offering the real touch and feel of the items, your product pages must fill that gap. To optimize product pages -
- Make sure you add the right tags so that shoppers can easily find your products.
- Include 2 or more high-quality pictures and a sizing chart if it’s apparel, accessory, or footwear.
- A detailed and accurate product description with product dimensions, wherever necessary.
- A simple user manual for electronics and appliances.
- Buying options, if applicable. For example, EMI, credit/debit or cash, etc.
- Authentic user reviews.
- Estimated delivery dates to help buyers make an informed decision.
- Clear shipping options, like, free delivery, same-day delivery, next-day delivery, etc.
2. Share Personalized Product Recommendations
Personalization is the best way to show your customers you are mindful of their buying habits and needs. While personalized product recommendations are generally provided for buyers who have already shopped from your store, it needn’t always be so.
Customer acquisition tactics often use shoppers’ browsing data to suggest relevant products via social media channels and ads. Businesses could also add a panel for showcasing product recommendations at the checkout page for a potentially higher average order volume (AOV).
3. Trigger Abandoned Cart Notifications
Not every shopper that lands on your website will complete a purchase. More often than not, people are just window shopping and adding things to their carts. To bring those wandering souls back to your shop, consider sending them abandoned cart notifications via email or WhatsApp.
Adding an incentive may hasten things, for example, ‘complete your purchase within the next 30 minutes to avail 15% flat discount.’ If you’re a Shopify merchant, you could opt for one of the Shopify abandoned cart apps to automate the process.
4. Offer Free Shipping Wherever Possible
Free shipping is a crowd-pleaser, and every retailer knows that. However, the ability to offer free shipping differs from business to business. Recognizing opportunities where you can offer free shipping without encountering losses can make a difference.
To start, introduce free shipping for high-value or bulk orders, which leaves more room for profit margins. Another option could be to treat only your special customers or subscribed members with a free shipping offer. The bottom line is, offering free shipping in any form can prove immensely helpful in increasing customer engagement.
5. Provide Accurate Estimated Delivery Dates
When ordering online, shoppers need to know exactly when they can expect their packages. Imagine someone buying a gift for Mothers’ Day. If they don’t know for sure when they will receive their order, it defeats the entire purpose of gift-giving.
Shipping speeds and delivery dates are often deciding factors for buyers, with most opting for same-day and next-day deliveries. Your business will miss out on potential customers if you don’t clearly state when orders will be shipped. Consider adding a zip code checking slot like Amazon’s that correctly estimated delivery dates.
6. Celebrate Achievements
Show your customers gratitude by sending them gift vouchers, or discount offers every time your company hits a milestone. In this way, you make them a part of your story and thank them for their contributions to making your brand what it is now.
Remember, the token of appreciation is not just about the cool offer or discount, so make sure to add that personal touch to your communication.
5 Major Customer Engagement Tips for the Best Post-Purchase Experience
A good business owner knows how important it is to keep nourishing customer relationships even after the sale is made. A post-purchase or after-sales experience starts immediately after a customer completes their purchase. Many make the mistake of underestimating the value of this phase. Let’s find out what customers want in a perfect post-purchase experience.
1. Make Shipping Fast and Reliable
Shipping is integral to a great post-purchase experience. We’ve already mentioned above how expedited shipping increases customers’ likelihood to shop with you. Another equally important aspect of shipping is reliability.
One of the things that turn a casual shopper into a repeat customer is a hassle-free shipping journey. This includes sending timely order status updates via SMS, emails, and WhatsApp, and order delay notifications, etc. Using reputed shipping carriers like FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc., that provide comprehensive services can help build that trust among consumers.
2. Invest in Packaging and Add Personalized Notes
There’s no point delivering packages at lightning speeds if the item gets damaged in the process. Anyone who’s looked at the back of a delivery vehicle knows how shipments are practically dumped onto the fleet unless it carries a fragile tag.
Good packaging cuts costs by eliminating damages in transit. Moreover, thoughtful packaging adds a touch of customization. Many brands today are experimenting with their packaging to make it more conversational and fun.
You could also choose to add a handwritten note. It can be a simple ‘thank you,’ but it has the power to transform the post-purchase customer experience. Most luxury brands, like Clinique, Burberry, Gucci, etc., prioritize this aspect of packaging.
3. Make Returns and Exchanges Easy
No retailer in the world can escape returns or exchanges. Therefore, they should focus on dealing with it in a way that improves customer experience. Brands that have cracked the return-exchange problem often say returns are good for business.
It’s a perplexing statement, but what they mean is that a good return experience ensures customers feel comfortable shopping from you again. If shoppers have to jump through hoops to return or exchange products, they’ll vow never to return. So, a business may actually make long-term profits by providing easy returns.
Provide a self-serve returns portal that allows customers to state reasons for returning and automatically rejects or accepts returns. Also, if possible, offer free shipping on returns.
4. Ask and Respond to Customer Feedback
Listening to your customers is crucial for business growth. We’ve discussed how you can add a feedback panel to your returns portal. Find other places to ask for feedback, like, providing an option for adding customer reviews on product pages.
User-generated content (UGC) is great for micro conversions like social media shares, word-of-mouth marketing, etc. Also, if you are using multiple channels to improve customer experience, then be sure to respond to your followers. Showing there’s a person behind the business helps customers better connect with you.
5. Provide Immediate Customer Service
Every ecommerce business hopes customers will never need to personally contact them with complaints or queries. However, not all inquiries are worrying. The important thing is to respond to customers as soon as possible. Most shoppers prefer to message a store instead of calling or emailing.
Have a dedicated customer care unit to quickly resolve customer complaints, support tickets, and queries. One of the fastest and most efficient methods is to install a WhatsApp Business API plugin on your website that automatically responds to customer messages when you’re away. The best thing is that it’s consistent, and your entire support team has access to it through a key.
There is no business without customers. Whichever channel you use to sell your merchandise, physical stores, online retail, or omnichannel, customer engagement is paramount for success.
We’ve offered you the best industry knowledge of how to keep your customers engaged through the shopping and post-purchase journeys. We hope with these tips and tricks; your website will welcome many new customers while simultaneously nurturing the old ones. All the best!
1. Is better customer engagement key to higher sales?
Yes, customer engagement is directly proportional to the number of sales. This is because poor customer experience makes many shoppers turn away, resulting in dwindling sales over time. A robust customer engagement strategy enhances customer experience and encourages them to shop with your ecommerce company repeatedly.
2. What are the different stages of customer engagement?
The different customer experience stages are Awareness or Discovery, Consideration or Engagement, Conversion or Sale, and Advocacy or Loyalty. The goal for every ecommerce company is to reach the level where customers themselves vouch for the brand, become repeat customers and encourage others to shop from it.