What makes a great post-purchase experience?

Photo: @red_red_wine via Twenty20
Jun 25, 2021

Hibbett Sports detailed yesterday at its investor conference the numerous ways it is differentiating its omnichannel offering by elevating the post-purchase experience.

“The post-purchase experience is just as important as a pre-purchase experience,” said Bill Quinn, SVP of marketing and digital. “If the customer has a bad post-purchase experience, they won’t be coming back. The post-purchase experience tends to get less focus and is an area that usually lacks investments. We see this as an opportunity.”

A big part of the post-purchase experience is communication. WISMO (where is my order) is typically the top customer service communication request.

“Customers want as much information as possible,” said Mr. Quinn. “We keep customers informed every step of the way via email and text. Customers are informed when the item ships, if the item is delayed, when the item is delivered and, finally, we send them each a survey to see how their experience went.”

Besides communication, Hibbett’s post-purchase focus is on making it as easy as possible for customers to solve any problem. Customers can reach the retailer’s customer service team “any way they want,” including by phone, email, chat or text.

Customers can also get their questions answered via an AI-powered chatbot or head online to use the chain’s “extensive self-service tools.” These options include being able to cancel their own orders, which Mr. Quinn said is “something that most retailers do not do.”

Other extra steps Hibbett’s takes around customer service that typically comes post-purchase is a callback option. Customers facing a wait when they call can request a callback to save them time.

Finally, Hibbett offers free returns as well as package insurance on all purchases. “This gives customers peace of mind when it comes to damaged, lost or stolen items,” Mr. Quinn said.

The attention to the post-purchase shopper experience is part of an effort to reduce as much friction as possible from online shopping. Mr. Quinn said, “The less friction there is, the more premium the experience is and the more differentiated the experience is from others who have more friction in their business.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree that the post-purchase experience is just as important as the pre-purchase experience? What are typically the biggest points of friction in the post-purchase experience?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"The post-purchase experience is extremely important, especially for time sensitive deliveries and highly coveted purchases."
"A huge part of the success of e-commerce is based on post-purchase reviews and feedback."
"The post-purchase experience is an amplifier of the respect shown by the retailer or brand to the customer."

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23 Comments on "What makes a great post-purchase experience?"

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Dr. Stephen Needel

It’s not as important as the pre-purchase experience, but it’s certainly a key piece. Make it easy for the shopper to get as much or as little information as they want. And if you’re throwing in a survey, keep it very short and clear (make it pass the MOM test – does it make sense to your mother).

Ian Leslie

I would say it’s more important if you’re looking to gain return customers and increase your LTV, no?

Bob Amster

Not everyone who shops a retailer once will come back, but one that is not treated well during the purchase surely won’t come back. So the post-purchase contact serves three purposes. One, it invites the one-time customers to come back and shop again. Two, it can uncover that a customer was not happy and provide an opportunity to make things right. Three, it can convey to a loyal customer how much s/he is appreciated. Retailers can’t lose by checking in post-purchase.

Ken Morris

The customer experience is a continuum. Retailers should orchestrate the pre-purchase, purchase, post-purchase experience including returns. Different segments of retail require a unique orchestration. Sporting goods in the case of Hibbett would be different from grocery yet all require a deft feel for their unique customer experience. Customers follow the 80 percent/20 percent rule where 20 percent of customers comprise 80 percent of sales but this 20 percent is not static. They go in and out of that golden 20 percent because of good or bad customer journey orchestration. So strike up the band to keep your customers happy.

David Naumann

The post-purchase experience is extremely important, especially for time sensitive deliveries and highly coveted purchases. One of the biggest friction areas for online purchases is assuring customers exactly when a product will be delivered. Frequent updates on the shipping and delivery status are imperative for “important” purchases and retailers should offer consumers the option to choose how often they want updates and how they would like to receive the updates (phone, email, chat or text).

Ben Ball

No, it is MORE important. And while communication can play a big role, particularly when there are problems with the product or service delivery, it is product performance that counts most. L.L. Bean still nailed this from the beginning when he said (to paraphrase): our job is not done until our customer has completely used up our product to his complete satisfaction and purchased another from us.

Smart old codger, eh?

Bob Amster

I love that line. It takes a lot of character and conviction to execute.

David Weinand

I would say it is equally as important. Think about it – every retailer is focused on the pre-purchase experience – thereby making it more difficult to differentiate. By focusing on post-purchase, it makes a customer feel like they matter more than just that transaction and thereby can instill loyalty. Kudos to Hibbett.

Paula Rosenblum

I do agree that the post-purchase experience is just as important as the pre-purchase experience. Especially when something is unclear.

The contact center has gotten lost in the shuffle of omnichannel technologies, but is probably the weakest link for many companies, retailers included. And that’s too bad.

The biggest point of friction is outsourced CSRs who are scripted and not really knowledgeable on products or customers. Or endless voice prompts that often lead you to the wrong department. I mean, how many times have you said “Get me your supervisor, please?”

One reason for Chewy.com’s success, for example, is its pre- and post- purchase customer service. Their phone number is easy to find, on every box you get from them, (vs. many, many others, who I have to Google to find a phone number for), they answer the phone quickly, and the CSRs are trained and know what they’re doing.

If we think just writing some scripts and outsourcing the contact center to low cost countries is adequate well — think about your own experiences and then think again.

Lisa Goller

Yes. Pre-purchase care earns sales; post-purchase care earns loyalty. Retail leaders nurture all points of the relationship to enchant shoppers and maximize lifetime value per customer.

Returns and buyer’s remorse are the biggest post-purchase issues. Easy, hassle-free returns and requesting candid ratings and reviews support continuous improvement.

Di Di Chan

A huge part of the success of e-commerce is based on post-purchase reviews and feedback. Retail stores are starting to adopt this strategy too. For example, the best scan and go technology in retail stores has incorporated customer reviews and feedback after every purchase. A strong post-purchase experience is an excellent way to build trust and loyalty.

DeAnn Campbell

Given that a customer spends up to 65 percent more with a retailer in year three than a new customer, and that new customer acquisition costs are 500 percent higher than keeping existing customers engaged, I would say the post-purchase experience is as important – if not more important – than the purchase experience.

Melissa Minkow

Post-purchase experience is equally as important as pre-purchase, but it’s more important when there’s any sort of issue with the item. I appreciate that Hibbett Sports puts so much attention towards the service aspect of post-purchase, but I’d like to know what they do that’s related to the product post-purchase. For example, checking in a year later to make sure the quality of the item has held up, or even a few days after the purchase to make sure the consumer is using it and enjoying it.

Rich Kizer

I once met an older gentleman who sold new cars. I asked him if he does anything special for the customer after the sale is made. His response floored me: He said “YES, I send them a birthday card every year.” I did not think this was very special. Then he blew me away with this statement: “Son, you don’t understand, the birthday card is for the car (congratulations, you’re a year older), not for the owners!” I smiled and the owner of the dealership told me he out-sells everyone. I wonder why. What would be the impact of a retailer associate doing the same? I wonder. Why not? .

Shep Hyken

In my speeches I talk about first impressions and last impressions. The first impression sets the tone for what’s to follow. The last impression leaves a lasting impression. At best, that lasting impression is the memory that makes customers want to come back.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.

Post-purchase experience is critical, particularly with high price or high involvement products or services. Such purchases generate cognitive dissonance, resulting in consumers seeking cues to validate their purchases. Think about the time consumers spend reviewing car and appliance ads and websites after such purchases.

In addition to any product purchase, while first impressions are important, the last impression lingers longest.

Patricia Vekich Waldron

Fulfilling on a brand’s promise is more important than path to purchase and has received less attention and investment until now. Consumers will turn into brand advocates only if they get great service before and after a sale.

Jeff Sward

The post-purchase experience is an amplifier of the respect shown by the retailer or brand to the customer. It says that the retailer/brand has taken nothing for granted. It’s one last opportunity to strengthen, or weaken, the relationship with the customer. After my last in-store purchase of printer paper at Staples, I now get a weekly email asking if I am ready for a reorder. They are taking no chances that I will pick up my next batch of paper somewhere else in my travels. When I am ready, I will click a button and my printer paper will be on the way. That’s customer service in this day and age.

April Sabral

I believe it is essential, in the day and age of reviews and customers sharing their experiences online – the focus on post-purchase could easily influence another potential customer to choose to move into the pre-purchase stage when they were not even thinking about it.

Taking care of customers all the way through should be part of the customer journey mapping as a strategy.

Amazon does get transparency right with every step being shared with the customer down to a photo of the delivery. It creates consumer confidence in where they spend their money.

I’d like to see more focus on this from traditional retailers, not just the omnichannels leading the way here.

Brandon Rael

Every single interaction with the customer is a crucial part of the entire experience and journey. There is certainly a friction reward principle at play with the customers, especially during the art of discovery. Yet, the most friction-filled moments include the checkout process, both online and in-store, the returns/reverse logistics process, and any engagement with customer service.

Excellence in execution with these fundamental customer engagements is crucial, and when these go wrong, a post-purchase experience could go downhill fast. However, in our digital-first world, retailers and brands should find creative ways to connect, engage and inspire customers with personalized offers, social media engagement, digital marketing based on their preferences, needs, and desires.

However, it’s only possible once you get the fundamental experiences right.

Rachelle King

Quinn is spot on. There is not enough attention given to post-purchase outside of remarketing. But to think about the last mile of the shopper journey in terms of an experience is refreshing. How many shoppers think of something to add/change on an order as soon as they press send? Most often, there is no option to allow for those changes. Also, the last thing online shoppers want is to call to cancel if needed. Canceling should be a full self-service option and few merchants deliver on this experience.

As online shopping continues to grow, shoppers will look for better post-purchase experiences. Merchants that think this is not as important as the purchase itself do not understand the importance of experience and will lose.

John Orr

I always believed that customers buy for product but stay for service. So yes, Absolutely post-purchase reinforcement has always been important – with digital growth we now simply get the chance to focus on it more than ever before. Some of the biggest points of friction can be: missed discount code application after the purchase, size discrepancies, and finding out after that it was not made in the U.S.

Ian Leslie

I think that what’s interesting is where “post-purchase” experience falls within the priority stack for new DTC companies, particularly those that are bootstrapped and spending so much money and effort in gaining new customers, not necessarily working to optimize the post-purchase experience in hopes of raising LTV. It’s a critical component of the customer lifecycle, but probably gets the short end because so much is focussed on winning the customer in the first place.

"The post-purchase experience is extremely important, especially for time sensitive deliveries and highly coveted purchases."
"A huge part of the success of e-commerce is based on post-purchase reviews and feedback."
"The post-purchase experience is an amplifier of the respect shown by the retailer or brand to the customer."

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