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EDITORIAL How post-purchase is the new differentiator for online retailers

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Is customer service post-purchase the new competitive edge?
Is customer service post-purchase the new competitive edge?
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Ecommerce sales have rocketed over the past year and now how retailers follow up post-purchase with delivery and customer service is becoming key

The pandemic’s impact on retail continues to evolve, not least for home furnishing businesses – but not always in the way you’d think. It has seen retail now focussed on post-purchase as a key differentiator.

 

Overall, the global ecommerce market is booming: reflected in the global ecommerce figures out this week that show that ecommerce use globally rose 10% in 2020 and is set for a similar rise in 2021 – making it worth a potential $2.7trn by year end.

 

Homewares and DIY have taken a chunk of this new revenue. Furniture retailer ScS is one retailer that continues to benefit from the lockdown home improvement boom, seeing sales rise by a staggering 92% in July, contributing to an overall rise in sale for 2020 of 13.9%. And there is more to come as the trend for doing up homes shows no signs of slowing in Q1 2021.

 

The retailer is one of many in the homewares sector that is benefitting from consumers looking to improve the homes they find themselves now living and working in 24x7.

 

John Lewis is putting a lot of onus on tapping into this home improvement trend, rolling out 3D visualisation tools to make planning your room make over even better.

 

While this is all good news for some in retail, there are problems. Delivery and return issues continue to be the hurdle at which many retailers fall – and it is hitting their ratings hard.

 

A study by HelloDone finds that showed that more than half (55%) of customer complaints were attributed to issues with the post-purchase experience, that is from the moment a customer has ‘clicked’ the buy button through to the item arriving at their front door.

 

In fact, nearly 40% of one-star reviews were attributed to issues with delivery, while a further 15% mentioned the returns process as a contributing factor to a negative experience with a retailer.

 

The use of social media is also having an impact on retailer perceptions as ecommerce continues to grow, with more than half of shoppers now saying that their decision to buy from a particular retail is swayed by what they see on social sites, especially photos customers have taken themselves.

 

Matching up the ability to offer excellent services and to sell what people want online has to be matched by the ‘getting it there’ (and indeed if needs be getting it back) aspects of ecommerce – and this is proving harder than many imagined.

 

The post-purchase phase is now becoming a key area that retailers need to focus in on as shoppers are now at home with online. It seems that across the past 10 months since the pandemic really started to bite here in the UK, many retailers have got to grips with the basics of ecommerce and are in the process of making that work well. However, post-purchase still needs some work. The market online is perhaps even more competitive than the ‘real world’ of retail was and, with review sites and social media strong influencers on digital shopping, making sure that delivery is done right and that customer service is there to back it up is vital.

 

Now how to make that work when all your customer service staff and logistics managers are working from home is another challenge, but the retailers that meet that challenge are going to be well on the way to success in 2021.

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