Online sales accounted for $1.05 trillion in U.S. retail sales in 2021. Approximately $218 billion—over 20%—of that total was returned. The multi-billion dollar question retailers must answer is how to minimize returns while keeping customers happy—and that starts with eliminating buyer’s remorse. In this article, we’ll dive into buyer’s remorse, and share what you can do to overcome it using your post-purchase experience.
As many as 82% of customers experience buyer’s remorse at one point or another. In fact, you probably know the feeling of buyer’s remorse yourself—that sense of regret that arrives after the initial dopamine surge of shopping subsides.
Post-purchase communication can reduce buyer’s remorse by generating continued excitement about a purchase.
For example, Sonos uses the post-purchase communication to offer onboarding tutorials to new customers where they can learn how to create a personalized account, use the Sonos app, or custom-tune their newly purchased device for the optimal listening experience. Moreover, Sonos uses post-purchase communication to preemptively address its customers’ most common technical questions, making it easier to enjoy their purchase immediately, and less likely to be returned.
For items that may not require instructions, (e.g. a new dress bought online) post-purchase messaging is an opportunity to continue conveying the value and versatility of the purchase as a means of sustaining shopper excitement.
This is why you’ll often see retailers offering “wear it with” suggestions on their product pages, and recycling those suggestions via their branded order tracking pages, and other post-purchase messaging tools.
Like it or not, your post-purchase experience colors how the customer feels about the transaction. Strong post-purchase communication minimizes the risk that a customer will grow dissatisfied with the retailer, and, in turn, with the items they order.
Customers want updates at all major points of fulfillment, including order confirmation, shipment initiation, variances (where applicable), and delivery confirmation.
When retailers rely on courier-generated tracking emails to satisfy some of those needs, they miss an opportunity to connect with customers. Transactional emails have much higher open rates than marketing emails, and package-tracking emails alone carry an open rate of approximately 70%.
Customers will blame retailers for missed deliveries and transit delays, regardless of whether they’re actually at fault. Branded post-purchase notifications give retailers the power to shape the narrative, and proactively address any problems to keep the customer happy.
If delivery doesn’t go as planned, the goodwill that retailers can earn through great communication can go a long way in combating buyer’s remorse.
An outstanding customer experience won’t save a transaction if the item doesn’t meet the customer’s needs or expectations. But by controlling every aspect of the post-purchase experience, you can connect with the customer in such a way that they don’t feel regret because they know you’re going to “make it right” by way of a credit or an exchange.
If you have a branded returns portal, you can direct your customers to submit their returns online for maximum convenience. This is a win for retailers because when returns are submitted online, it’s easier to compel customers to choose a store credit or product exchange over a cash refund.
While it’s harder for a customer to determine if an ecommerce purchase will actually meet their needs, digital returns—and instant exchanges—allow retailers to quickly transition the customer into a new transaction, thereby avoiding any semblance of remorse.
Ecommerce lacks the immediacy of brick-and-mortar retail. Customers don’t get the instant confirmation that an item meets their needs, and they miss the instant gratification of using the item they just paid for. Buyer’s remorse sets in during the lag time between purchase and delivery as customers second-guess their decisions.
Establishing practices and policies—like robust post-purchase communication and fast exchanges and price adjustments—increases the customer confidence and overall satisfaction with the transaction. To overcome the obstacles of buyer’s remorse, retailers have to make each step of the transaction as fun and painless as the purchase.