To build a successful UK ecommerce business, it’s important to do more than focus on immediate growth—you need to put a strategy in place that will help you build a sustainable and scalable business for the years to come.

Our agency partner, Vervaunt, works with UK-based ecommerce businesses, supporting them in building strategies that lead to long-term success both domestically and internationally. We recently spoke with one of Vervaunt’s consultants, Francesca Raggio, on strategies that UK merchants should keep in mind to make sure that their businesses are set up for success in the future. 

Here are some important strategies for building a sustainable brand:

Optimize the post-purchase experience

In ecommerce, customers often return products – whether it’s due to a sizing issue, a defect, or maybe they simply don’t like the product as much in person as they did online. In fact, in the UK, one in every three online purchases ends in a return, with 71% of shoppers saying they regularly return products they’ve purchased. 

If a customer has a negative experience when making a return, it could cause them to not shop with your brand again. But if you make returns a seamless experience and build an optimised post-purchase cycle, you’ll keep customers coming back.

To that measure, using a returns management solution like Loop seamlessly allows shoppers to exchange the product for another with an Instant Exchange. You might even offer additional credit to upsell them on another item in your store using the Shop Now/Shop Later features.

When serving customers in the UK, shoppers are accustomed to paying for returns; however, when serving the US market, you’ll find that shoppers are more likely to expect free shipping and free returns, so make sure that you’re well set up to support their needs. 

”Brands need to provide a greater variety of courier options, as well as a wider range of returns options such as exchanges, gift cards and in-person returns,” says Raggio. “In the US, there is a need for more granular updates post-purchase to support the longer-delivery times resulting from the US’s larger geographical location.”

Provide a personalised customer experience

By leveraging customer data, you can create a personalised customer journey from the first brand touchpoint to the last, which will help you engage shoppers and boost your customer loyalty metrics. Accenture found that 91% of customers are more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant, personalised offers that are based on information they’ve shared with the brand.

Particularly in the light of GDPR and other restrictions on third-party data collection, merchants are increasingly prioritising first-party data collection to develop comprehensive customer profiles that they can use to build customised offers and messaging. “An example is incentivising account creation to capture preferences such as gender, clothing and shoe size, and product type,” adds Raggio.

This customer data can then be used to support a range of personalised offers and experiences, such as:

  • Personal ‘stylist’ recommendations within the account ‘hub’ 
  • Personalised browsing experiences based on customer preferences, past purchases or browsing history, e.g. size or product preferences
  • Gender segmentation across the site
  • Hyper-targeted email flows and campaigns based on segmentation group

By delivering highly relevant content and product recommendations, you’ll be able to build compelling offers that encourage shoppers to develop an ongoing and valuable relationship with your brand.

Set up post-purchase surveys to gain new consumer insights

While there’s a lot of data that you can collect organically throughout the buyer’s journey, asking your customers for feedback directly is the best way to get actionable insights that you can use to improve your business strategy.

“Vervaunt clients are using Census (our post-purchase survey app for Shopify) for actionable insights around all aspects of the shopping experience (such as shipping and payments, or sizing) to drive optimisations around those features,” says Raggio. “They are also using Census to understand customer behaviour, such as who customers are shopping for, and traffic attribution to inform future roadmap items and drive decisions around landing pages and user journeys.”

Leverage data insights to improve the customer experience

Beyond the data that your customers share with you directly, you can generate insights from their behavioral and purchase data, such as which pages they’ve viewed and which products they’ve purchased.

Customer reviews are an important source of intel, too: “Brands are pulling out specific data from product reviews to provide detail around size, fit, colour, and quality directly on the PDP as a trust signal,” says Raggio.

And don’t neglect the importance of returns data. When a customer returns a product, it’s important for your team to know why it wasn’t right for them. Was the sizing a bit off, or the fabric too sheer? By using Loop, you’ll be able to ask your shoppers about their return reasons, and analyze them in aggregate to develop detailed insights that you’ll be able to use to improve the customer experience in the future.

For instance, if shoppers often say that a particular jumper runs small, you’ll be able to improve your product description pages by recommending that shoppers size up when making the purchase. If a certain type of leggings is frequently sent back due to product defects, you’ll be able to work with your manufacturer to correct the issue before it leads to more problems. By identifying trends in product returns, you’ll be able to easily identify flaws in your supply chain that you can correct for a streamlined customer experience.

With a data-driven approach to ecommerce, you’ll be able to create a compelling buyer’s journey that keeps your customers engaged and eager to buy from your brand again and again.

Ready to boost retention with a great post-purchase experience?