Acquisition vs. Repeat Customers

Marketers and eCommerce professionals have historically invested significant amount of time investing in improving the customer’s experience up until the point of sale, through the tried and tested methods such as promoting the brand message, selecting the perfect sale price, making sure the photography is ‘just-so’ and showing reviews of all of the happy customers that have chosen to take the plunge and make a purchase.

It seems self evident when looked at in isolation, that the more new customers you can encourage to buy on your store, the better it is for the business – but what about those customers that have bought already – are they receiving the same level of focus? The data suggests not. For the average eCommerce store, only 8% of traffic comes from repeat customers, the rest from the fruits of the acquisition campaigns that the eCommerce world has become obsessed with in recent years.

For businesses looking for sustainable growth, this is a big issue. Not only does it cost around 7X more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one, the 8% of traffic from repeat customers makes up on average 41% of an organisation’s revenue.  That is a large amount of money being left on the table for those retailers that aren’t able to effectively inspire the oft-cited but rarely understood ‘brand loyalty’ that is so important for retailers looking to maintain and grow their market share.

Retargeting campaigns, loyalty programmes, newsletters; all can be effective if done in the right way, but the likelihood is that your competitor is also doing this with open rates for email-based marketing campaigns hovering around 20%, what is the likelihood that your carefully crafted email is going to be read by the customers you are looking to engage with?

The Post-Purchase Experience

We have already seen how brands are to a significant extent prioritizing the acquisition of new customers over nurturing those that have already decided to buy. For those brands that have turned their attention to existing customers, efforts are also focused on the generation of good will following the delivery and consumption of their product (and are many times consigned to the traditionally overused and undereffective methods outlined above). Retailers often forget however the longest and often most significant period of the purchase journey – the point from which the customer chooses to buy up until they actually receive the product.

Depending on the length of time it takes for customers to receive their product, this is the period when damaging emotions like frustration, regret and confusion can flare up and erode the excitement that marketers have worked so hard to build up before the sale. A delayed parcel, missed delivery or even just a lack of true visibility on where their order is can significantly harm a brand’s perception despite the fact that such delivery related issues are rarely the fault of the brand themselves. Customer Service often acts as the first line of defence in these situations, but agents often find themselves under-equipped to deal with enquiries of this nature – frantically searching their internal CRMs and courier’s tracking pages for information that is often rather inaccessible and difficult to interpret.

What Can Be Done?

With the ever-stronger push towards eCommerce, accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, the industry has come a long way when it comes to providing customers with a delivery experience that enhances, rather than diminishes the customer’s perception of the brand. Nowadays, it is not only unnecessary, but actively irresponsible to delegate responsibility for the communication with your customers to a courier service that is not set up to provide your customers with a curated delivery experience. A courier’s function is only to deliver and rarely to delight.

Through AfterShip, brands are able to communicate with each of their customers throughout the delivery journey – re-engaging and reassuring every step of the way.

Through branded communications, an on-site parcel tracker and an easy to use dashboard containing information on each delivery, customers that were previously left in the dark and anxious will be informed and satisfied throughout the delivery journey – and customer service agents will have a wealth of information at their fingertips for those that do get in touch. It is experiences like this that will build a loyal following in years to come and truly define who is able to make a success of their eCommerce offering.