Between digital marketing and UX design, eCommerce merchants put a lot of effort into converting visitors into customers. But what about the post-purchase experience?
Even if a visitor has converted, it doesn’t mean a merchant has fully won them over. Will they become a repeat buyer, or is their purchase just a one-time thing?
It doesn’t make sense to spend so much time and money attracting visitors and then guiding them to conversion, when the real value of a customer lies in Lifetime Value (LTV). Getting that initial purchase is easy; it’s getting that customer to come back for more that’s hard, and also where the strongest return on investment (ROI) lies. As a merchant it’s not only important to find new customers, but to maintain a strong relationship with current ones.
This concept of LTV is based on the overall amount of money a customer will spend on your business through the duration of their relationship with your brand. What does this mean? Customers don’t just give the value of their current purchase, but also have a potential future value if your business retains them. In addition, it’s always more costly to gain new customers than to have revisiting ones.
A flourishing business is one that has high customer LTV’s because loyal customers have the added benefit of being great ambassadors of your brand to drive more organic traffic your way.
The way to accomplish this is by consistently providing an outstanding post-purchase customer experience that will leave everyone endorsing your brand and coming back for more.
The Post-Purchase Experience
To investigate this process, let’s pretend we own a popular athleisure wear brand with a high-converting direct-to-consumer (DTC) storefront built on Shopify Plus. We have a healthy digital marketing budget focused on attracting our core audience of fashion-forward, young to middle aged females in the United States. We are happy with our monthly site traffic and conversion rate, and our customer acquisition cost (CAC) is right where we feel it should be.
Yoga-fanatic, Miss Nama Stay, is a 28 year-old marketing professional living in San Diego, CA. She is health-conscious and lives an active lifestyle, and is in the market for some new apparel for a hot yoga class she just signed up for. As she casually scrolls through her Instagram feed she sees our ad, and the next thing you know she’s tapped, scrolled, and purchased her way to her first pair of yoga pants from our store.
Score!!! … but now what?
Nama’s ideal post-purchase experience:
1. Order Confirmation
After clicking the “Complete Purchase” button, Nama receives an automated email
2. Shipment Confirmation
A day or two later (depending on the shipping method selected), she receives an email letting her know that her item has shipped
3. Package Arrival
A few days after that, a package is waiting at her door when she gets home from work and a delivery confirmation email is in her inbox
4. Opening the Package
Upon opening her package, she finds a neatly-wrapped product in the correct size and color with a printed receipt and return label conveniently included
5. Happy Customer
Nama is so happy with the experience that she immediately recycles the return label, and goes online to write a raving review about her new favorite yoga pants
Not so fast. Next, let’s think about everything that happened behind the scenes to ensure this was a positive experience for Nama.
1. Order is placed and customer receives CC charge notification
2. Automated order confirmation goes out via ESP / Shopify integration
3. Customer information is sent from Shopify checkout to warehouse (via order fulfillment system)
4. Orders need to be triaged to ensure efficient shipping
5. Pick list needs to be generated
6. Products need to be picked out of the warehouse
7. Pack order list needs to be generated and each order ‘s pack slip is printed
8. Products need to be packed with slips into shipping boxes
9. Boxes need to be sealed
10. Shipping labels need to be printed and attached (carrier charges postage for each label)
11. The order needs to be shipped
How do we ensure that all of this is done efficiently and effectively so that every customer’s experience is as good as Nama’s?
Choosing the Right Partner
The post-purchase experience covers a lot of ground (literally), and the first step to creating a satisfied customer is to provide a good shipping process.
So, how does a merchant choose a shipping partner that will enhance this experience? How do you meet efficiency needs, as well as customer expectations?
Whether your shipping process boosts (or busts) your brand depends on a variety of factors when it comes to your shipping partner. Here are all the important factors to evaluate in your potential partners:
1. Support for an Omni-channel shopping experience
2. Complex order triaging capabilities
3. Cost minimizing elements
4. Efficient picking process & pick lists
5. Packing process and packing slips
6. Customizable shipping labels
7. Tracking information capabilities
8. Customer Service
Who’s Doing it right?
Based on the above criteria, we’ve chosen to focus in on three big players to show who’s currently killing the shipping game.
ShipStation does an awesome job at meeting our overall criteria. Some of the biggest wins are discounted USPS rates and great integration capabilities with multiple eCommerce platforms. Other noteworthy features include advanced automation, customized shipping and packing slips, and return labels.
Shiptation’s automation allows for high-level order processing every time a customer places an order. This process easily prioritizes orders and sends information to specific carriers. One of the potential downsides in their triaging capabilities is that their dropship feature is not automated; however it can be supported with fulfillment integrated via API.
ShippingEasy is another great option. Highly advanced with the newest technology, ShippingEasy provides almost any shipping, inventory, and customer management feature you could want.
For example, when it comes to pick lists, ShippingEasy provides the option to sort by eight pre-entered factors such as shipping carrier and SKU, as well as customizable options. One potential negative of ShippingEasy is that their multichannel integration options are not as diverse as ShipStation. They can integrate with around 35 selling tools, while ShipStation offers about 53 integrations. This will affect you if you use a sales channel not offered on ShippingEasy’s list.
Ordoro tends to be on the pricier side of our options, if you’re setting up a pro-level account, but it does still provide discounted shipping rates with major carriers. In addition, Ordoro is a pro at Shopify integration, making it easy to use with this sales channel.
Ordoro also stands out because it’s the only one of these software partners that has automated dropshipping and built-in fulfillment integration, which may make it worth the price tag if this feature is important to your business. One negative of Ordoro is that it offers the least amount of multichannel integration, only having capabilities with about 18 sales channels.
Food for Thought: Shopify Shipping & Native Shipping Options
We thought it was also important to investigate not only independent shipping partners, but also the option to go native with your eCommerce platform. eCommerce platforms like Shopify can include their own shipping solutions that might be worth considering, depending on the nature of your business.
Some of the major benefits of Shopify Shipping include discounted shipping rates with some of the major carriers. In addition, choosing to use Shopify Shipping means you don’t have to go through another third party. However, some of the limitations of choosing to go the native shipping route can include less customizable order management and less complex functionalities. For example, Shopify shipping is not compatible if your products require irregular package shapes and sizes. So it can truly depend on the scale and needs of your business.
As you can see, the mechanisms and software behind the shipping process are very important to a merchant’s success. Not only is it about efficiently running business and cost-saving, but also about enhancing the brand experience as much as possible.
When considering your shipping partner, it’s clear that there are many factors to consider. Your software needs can vary depending on the industry you’re in, but in general it’s important for everyone in the eCommerce world to consider all criteria. From our findings, it’s evident that each option has its own specialties, but ultimately your shipping partner choice comes down to your brand’s unique needs.