Modern retailers know that sales conversion rate is not an indicator of how successful your business is.

You may be generating high sales volume, but what are you spending to get those conversions? If you’re investing heavily in advertising and demand generation strategies to acquire new customers, and consistently seeing churn, then you’re not building a sustainable business.

But if you’re seeing high customer retention, with frequent repeat purchases from a consistent group of buyers, you’ve already got a great foundation for success. It costs five to seven times as much to win over a new customer as it does to retain an existing customer, so by building a steady base of loyal customers, you’ll be able to significantly lower your acquisition costs.

How do you do this? Focus on providing a superlative customer experience through every phase of the buyer’s journey — all the way from the first touch point to the post-purchase experience.

In this article, we’ll focus specifically on that last phase. The post-purchase experience refers to the time period after the customer has purchased an item and has the opportunity to evaluate it, positively or negatively.

What is post-purchase behavior?

After a customer makes a purchase, there are things we want them to do, and things we don’t want.

Post-purchase behaviors we want:

Repeat purchases, Positive reviews, Customer evangelists

Post-purchase behaviors we don’t want:

Product refunds, Negative reviews, One-off purchases

No need to hide behind textbooks to get to the bottom of this. Before we jump into our repeat purchase tips, let’s get some definitions out of the way.

Post-purchase behavior definition

Post-purchase behavior is defined as:

The way a person thinks, feels, and acts after they make a purchase.

We’re focusing on influencing the action of repeat purchases, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore thoughts & feelings.

A general assumption: if people feel good, they think about why. When customer satisfaction is high, we can remind them to take positive actions to help our brands.

Post-purchase behavior process

Let’s break this down a bit further.

After a customer makes a purchase, they enter the post-purchase evaluation stage. If you’ve been following the Loop blog at all, you’ll know this is the stage where lifelong customers are earned.

During this stage, customers decide whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied. They’ll assess the product and analyze how well it compares with your brand’s marketing descriptions, the reviews they’ve read, and the mental image they had of the product to determine whether their opinion is negative or positive.

For instance, the buyer might engage in:

  • Competitor analysis
    The customer might look at how the product features and pricing compares to competing products, to help them understand whether they got a “good deal” or not.
  • Reviewing customer and industry feedback
    The customer might look for more perspective on their purchase by browsing through customer reviews (whether on your site or external publications), and searching for industry publications’ mentions of your product to understand where your product fits in the market.
  • Testing out different use cases for the product
    The customer might look at the product’s instruction manual, or tutorials available online, to test out various use cases for your product, helping them learn how to use it effectively and gaining a better understanding of which use cases are most valuable for their purpose.

Many customers have already engaged in these forms of research during the pre-purchase state, but they’re equally likely to spend time on analysis during the post-purchase stage. All of these forms of research will help the customer get a better understanding of whether the product delivers the value they were hoping for — and give them the opportunity to decide whether they want to keep the product, exchange it, or seek a refund.

Challenges in the post-purchase journey

There’s a lot that can go wrong post-purchase, and it doesn’t always come down to the quality of the product. For example:

  • Poor communication
    Did your brand fail to notify the shopper that their package was en route, or never send an order confirmation? Prompt, real-time transactional messages are a key piece of delivering a great post-purchase experience, so failure to communicate can sour a buyer on your products before they even reach their doorstep.
  • Shipping delays/errors
    If shipments are delayed, go missing, or are delivered in damaged condition, shoppers aren’t going to be happy. Carrier issues may be out of your control, but how you make it up to the shopper isn’t.
  • Product issues
    If the shopper receives a broken or damaged product, or the wrong product altogether, they’ll obviously be dissatisfied. But they may also express buyer’s remorse even if there’s nothing technically wrong with the product — it just doesn’t work for them, whether that’s a poor style match or poor fit. Providing great customer support to ensure that they can replace or get a refund for the product will help ensure brand loyalty.

Post-purchase dissonance occurs when the buyer’s reaction to the purchasing experience isn’t what they’d hoped for — often known as buyer’s remorse.

But focusing on delivering a great post-purchase experience, we can do a lot more than just prevent dissatisfaction. Done right, customer experience can build loyalty, word of mouth, and increase the likelihood of repeat purchases.

What are the possible outcomes of post-purchase behavior?

Whatever a customer does after making a purchase… it will fall into the following categories:

  • Positive behaviors
  • Negative behaviors

The post-purchase journey can be analyzed to death, but it all comes down to creating a positive customer experience. Essentially that means two things:

  1. Suggest & incentivize actions you want:repeat purchases, written reviews, social engagement.
  2. Predict problems customers may face:product returns, product questions, shipping concerns.

By encouraging desired behaviors and preventing undesirable ones, brands can begin to see huge results.

Post-purchase behavior marketing

Post-purchase decisions in consumer behavior can be influenced. Marketing is one of the best ways to make that happen. Marketing aims to capture attention when customers are evaluating alternative options. This is an ongoing process – it doesn’t stop post-purchase!

Here are a few ideas:

With a platform like Klaviyo (which has a Loop integration):

Ecommerce companies can use email to huge success. According to this article on the Klaviyo blog, post-purchase emails have an open rate & click rate of 217% & 500% higher respectively.

With a platform like Loop (full disclosure, that’s us):

Brands can create a returns experience that makes life easier for customers and service teams alike. By making the returns process a breeze, customers are never locked into a final purchase decision.

With a platform like Yotpo:

Online stores can create loyalty programs designed to encourage desired customer behaviors. By doing this, we can keep customer attention, giving you more opportunities to engage with them for repeat purchases.

What platforms are in your ecommerce deck? If you’re thinking about plugging into Loop Returns, check out our integrations page.

Post-purchase behavior examples to drive repeat purchases

Of all the post-purchase behaviors we can hope to influence, repeat purchases of your product or service are the holy grail. Here are a couple of examples for inspiration.

Example 1: The loyalty push

Here’s something we talked about in a recent article all about post-purchase experience examples.

If you want a framework for repeat purchases, look no further than the Chubbies loyalty program. This program is so locked in, customers earn points before they spend a single dollar!

Points are awarded for doing all kinds of things, for example:

  • Creating an account
  • Making repeat purchases
  • Following social media accounts

It doesn’t get much better than this if you want to push repeat purchases! Chubbies has managed to turn shopping into a game. The rules of the game? Perform all the post-purchase behaviors that benefit all parties involved.

Example 2: The returns process of champions

If you want to encourage repeat purchases, don’t shy away from returns.

As everybody who has ever bought something knows, sometimes it doesn’t work out. You don’t need to be a consumer buying behavior expert to figure this one out – wrong size, wrong style – it happens.

In that case, your customer is holding a product they don’t want. The best thing to do in this situation is to encourage exchanges. Seems counter-intuitive, but if you use software like Loop Returns to make returns & exchanges easy, we’ve found customer make repeat purchases up to 46% more often.

With Loop exchanges can happen via the Shop Now feature. Customers visit the returns portal and choose to do an exchange. From there, they are taken to the online store for an experience just like shopping. Customers can exchange one item and buy more at the same time!Loop also has a feature called instant exchanges to sweeten the deal. Using IX, customers can put input their credit card as collateral for the return and have their new items shipped immediately. In other words, they don’t need to return their old items before their new ones are shipped out!

Wrapping up

The online information search is never-ending. But influencing customers when you have their attention post-purchase is one way to skip your message to the front of the line.

If you are able to influence customer behavior after purchase, the gains could be legendary. Start small – but definitely start now.

And if you are a Shopify brand looking to take control of your returns process, look no further than Loop. Our team is standing by – just book a demo and we’ll be happy to show you what Loop can do for your business. We strongly believe there isn’t a Shopify brand that can’t profit from returns.

Get in touch and let’s do this!