Research conducted by parcelLab has evaluated how the post-purchase experience of the UK’s top 200 major retailers has changed over the past 24 months in order to help brands better understand and improve their customer retention strategies.

The study focuses on the retailer’s Operations Experience Management (OXM), which encompasses the whole customer experience post-sales, across supply chains, shipping and returns.

ParcelLab placed test orders with the selected retailers throughout December 2021 and January 2022, with returns taking place in the same timeframe, and analysed the checkout, shipping and returns processes.

The study ultimately wanted to determine to what extent retailers were providing a ‘good’ customer experience, including:

  • Whether or not the parcel was delivered to parcelLab’s HQ within the promised shipping window
  • How the retailer communicates with their customer (i.e during checkout)
  • Where (if given) parcel tracking is located
  • How returns are processed. 

It highlights the need for brands to continue streamlining and investing in their purchase processes to create more opportunities to build relationships with their customers.

Doing so could boost brand loyalty and increase customer retention, whilst transforming a transaction into an ‘experience’ which can generate extra revenue opportunities.

Key findings from the study

  • 28% of retailers directed the customer to a branded tracking page
  • 16% of the tracking pages displayed an error message
  • 79% of retailers ignore their customer after the dispatch notification
  • 8% of retailers include product recommendations in shipping communication
  • 81% of retailers do not send branded or personalised communication
  • 89% of the orders arrived on time.

Are retailers delivering on their customer’s post-purchase expectations?

The global COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed online consumer behaviour and retailers need to continue to adapt as more people embrace e-commerce.

These key findings suggest that although the UK’s top retailers provide a demonstrably better post-purchase experience for their customers in comparison to parcelLab’s prior study in 2021.

However, there is still significant room for improvement. 

Retailers often fall short on the experience their customers expect, and in a significant proportion of instances, that experience simply ends when the customer ‘checks out’.

Considering 4 out of 5 retailers ended communication with the customer after dispatch, it represents a missed opportunity to further their revenue streams and solidify their relationship with the customer.

Nearly 40% of UK retail sales will occur online in 2022 and with the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating online consumer activity, turning online shoppers into loyal customers is paramount for revenue growth.

ParcelLab highlighted five major retailers: L’Occitane en Provence, Beauty Bay, The Hut, Bose and & Other Stories, who offer exemplary post-purchase customer experiences which should be used as both a benchmark and a source of inspiration for retailers: 

Bose offered personalised product recommendations on the customer’s tracking page that corresponded to the purchase, creating a personalised upsell opportunity to generate further revenue.

Cosmetic retailer Beauty Bay used eye-catching, on brand email colours that engage the customer, and included links back to their loyalty scheme, FAQs and ‘what’s new’ section on the order tracking page.

& Other Stories’ delivery success notification included information about returns and a link to their returns portal, making it a no-fuss, easily accessible process.

These act as three great examples of brands engaging their customers post-purchase and meeting their expectations.

How can UK retailers improve their customer’s post-purchase experiences?

With these examples in mind, and based off of parceLab’s findings, they have recommended that in order to improve their post-purchase experience offerings brands should:

  • Take control of the post-purchase experience
  • Host order status (tracking) page in own domain
  • Not rely on carriers to inform your customers about delivery
  • Communicate (inevitable) delays with the customer more coherently

Their research found that post-purchase emails were rarely personalised, nor utilised enough to create an engaging experience for the customer and encourage them to return to their online store to place additional orders.

Retailers need to take control of their post-purchase communication offerings by creating personalised and engaging interactions at each point of contact.

“When a brand owns their end-to-end customer experience, customers receive relevant, reliable, personalised and branded communication directly from the retailers, which actually adds value to their experience.” – parcelLab

These offerings should be synonymous with the brand and consistent throughout the whole customer journey.