Earning shopper loyalty through customer experience: 3 things you can’t afford to miss

6 minute read

In a competitive online marketplace, having loyal customers is what drives a business’ growth. To win shopper loyalty you have to fine-tune shopper experience.

Driving customer loyalty goes way beyond making sales. From visiting your website to receiving a delivery – or returning it – every stage in the customer journey counts and has the potential to leave a lasting impression. To create a clear competitive advantage, a business must communicate to its customers with clarity, respond with speed, and ensure simplicity and choice in the customer experience. Customer expectations are already high and still on the rise. Retailers who meet them will be positioned to thrive.

We surveyed 5,000 Canadian online shoppers back in 2016 to reveal six key drivers of shopper loyalty and in 2018 we conducted another research study that provided new insights on the topic. You might be surprised to learn that three of them happen after a shopper leaves your website. Find out how delivery speed, the receiving experience and your returns policy can impact customer retention.

3 post-purchase customer experiences that drive shopper loyalty

  1. Speed and cost of delivery

    If you haven’t done so already, make 2019 the year you optimize the delivery process for your business. Faster is better, and consumers will shop around for speed.

    Paid shipping

    While 3-5 day delivery meets or exceeds the expectations of the majority of shoppers, there’s also a large amount that expect it to be faster and delivered within 1-2 days. This illustrates just how quickly merchants need to move when customers have paid for shipping.

    Ace the final mile and build loyalty with “The Journey to Build Loyalty Among Online Shoppers.”

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    Free shipping

    While they may be losing patience when it comes to paid shipping, Canadian online shoppers are willing to wait longer to save money. Most will avoid paying for it – only 20 per cent of shoppers (30 per cent of millennials) say they’re willing to pay a premium for same-day shipping.

    For most shoppers, carrier and cost are more important than delivery wait times. In fact 28 per cent of Canadians are uncomfortable opening the door for an unknown delivery company, preferring to receive their shipments from more recognized carriers, like Canada Post.

    Meeting rising expectations

    The more Canadians shop online, the more savvy they become. It’s in your best interest to do what you can to fulfill and ship your orders as quickly as possible for the lowest rates possible. But it may actually be more important to be upfront and clear about your anticipated delivery times and costs with your customers – before they even make it to checkout.

    Focus on your best customers’ needs

    Prioritize satisfying frequent, power and hyper shoppers (those who shop online 7-12, 13-24 and over 25 times a year respectively). These customers will bring in the most dollars to your business and these consumers expect brands to be transparent about their delivery promises.

    Minimize processing times

    Organize your backend operations to get orders out the door faster in 2019. The less time you spend processing an order, the better. Our research revealed that 45 per cent of shoppers expect their orders to be fulfilled within a single day.

    Provide accurate delivery times

    Will an order arrive in 3 days, or just be ready to ship in 3 days? If your delivery estimates don’t include fulfillment time, it’s important to make that clear when you communicate delivery information to your customers. Knowledge is power and your customers want to have a sense of control when they shop with you.

    If your customer needs something to be delivered faster than you can accommodate, it’s better if that fact is clear to them from the get-go than making the sale and losing the customer long term because they feel let down or misinformed by your business.

    It’s key to factor in your delivery partner’s fulfilment times, too. Estimated delivery ranges are good, but offering precise delivery dates is ideal.

    Offer a range of delivery speeds

    Canadian shoppers are willing to wait longer for a package if shipping is free. Some are also willing to pay to get it faster. Offer a choice of delivery speed options to satisfy the greatest possible number of shoppers.

  2. Ease of receiving

    Loyal customers can be won in the final-mile, but an astonishing 40 per cent of shoppers recall having a bad experience with their delivery of an online purchase. It’s wise to give real consideration to the logistics of the final mile, and it’s super important to pick the right delivery partner to ensure everything goes smoothly.

    How to win loyalty in the final mile

    It’s not hard to win customer loyalty in the final mile, but it does require some effort and focused attention.

    Deliver on your promises

    Customers tend to resent or abandon retailers who can’t live up to their commitments. Don’t be that merchant. Make realistic promises to your customers and follow through on them.

    Display your delivery carrier at checkout

    Your choice of delivery carrier matters to more than just your business. The carrier you choose will serve as your unofficial representative in the final mile, so choose wisely. A superior delivery experience can encourage conversion and influence customer loyalty. In a maturing market, your choice of delivery partner increasingly influences shoppers’ willingness to purchase from your business. Don’t forget to let them know who you trust to deliver your promises.

    Offer multiple receiving options

    To-the-door delivery isn’t always convenient for your customers. In fact, 40 per cent of Canadian consumers say it’s difficult for them to be home to receive deliveries during the day and 20 per cent of shoppers want the option to receive their parcels from an alternative pickup location. You can meet your customers’ needs by offering in-store pickup, or leveraging a carrier network. While omni-channel retailing does drive shopper loyalty, you don’t need brick and mortar stores to give shoppers access to multiple pickup locations. Canada Post can deliver your parcels to 6200 post offices across the country, making it a great carrier for businesses seeking to offer local pick-up options to Canadian consumers.

  3. Don’t overlook your returns policy

    Many retailers overlook the vital role returns can play in customer satisfaction. Did you know that 66 per cent of online shoppers check a returns policy before making their first purchase from a retailer, and 18 per cent will abandon their carts over concerns about returns? The true business cost of a poor returns experience is much larger than many merchants realize.

    Getting better ROI on your returns

    To make your returns work for you, keep the following things in mind when you create and promote your returns policy:

    1. Make your returns policy clear and easy to find. You work hard to acquire shoppers – don’t risk losing them with a virtually-hidden returns policy, or a confusing one.
      Read more: Find out more about strategies to develop and maintain a returns policy that serves both customer and retailer.
    2. Create simple steps. Customers may abandon your business if there are too many hurdles in your returns process.
    3. Offer convenient choices. Accept returns via multiple channels, including in-store or by mail, to satisfy your customers. Make returns simple for your customers by including something like a return label in the box.

Hyper elite: The Holy Grail of online shoppers has surfaced

In 2018, Canadian e-shoppers made an average of 17 online purchases – an increase of six per year since Canada Post’s 2016 survey. An emerging category of customers has become much more influential – the hyper-elite shopper. These consumers make over 40 purchases a year and now account for nine per cent of the market. They are mainly millennials who are tech savvy and have high expectations for e-tailers and online experiences. Do whatever you can to earn their loyalty. If these powerful e-shoppers like what you offer, you can be confident that the rest of the market will too.

At the end of the day, customer satisfaction is the true secret to growth. Make sure your business has a good handle on delivery speed, the receiving experience and returns to keep customers coming back for more.

Canada Post. 2018 Canadian Online Shopper Study, CPC 18-200, April 2018.
Canada Post. 2016 Canadian Online Shopper Study, CPC 16-202, April 2016.

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