The holiday season is almost upon us, which means merchants need to get prepared for BFCM. However, following the sequence of events that have unfolded in 2020 this BFCM is set to be very different. 

More than ever before customers are turning to online stores to make multiple purchases which means big business for retailers. Brands looking to capitalise on BFCM will need to stand out from their competitors in order to turn one-time buyers into return customers. One way you can do this is through the post-purchase experience. Brands need to provide their customers with something more than just good products. Customers want to feel valued and important. 

To kick off our BFCM blog series, we speak to Channel Account Manager, Alex Weston of Brightpearl to find out why post-purchase should be a critical part of your business strategy this BCFCM…..


Why is it important for brands to bother with a post-purchase strategy during BFCM?

BFCM is often a time when merchants are discounting heavily and therefore are likely to be attracting first-time customers. So if operational issues do occur this will lead to that first experience being negative and consequently the brand will miss the opportunity to retain a whole new cohort of customers. 

Additionally, those customers who have a negative experience with a brand are more likely to leave a bad review which could ultimately impact acquisition as well. For example, our ‘Rise of the Review Culture’ research shows 89% of consumers will stop doing business with a brand after just one bad experience, leaving very little room for error. Merchants need to remember everything that happens after the buy button is the consumer’s last experience with the brand. Shoppers can be fickle, so you only get one chance to deliver a positive experience, it’s worth spending time on getting it right. 

What’s more, during BFCM the post-purchase journey is put under immense pressure because of increased activity and order numbers. It’s therefore imperative that a merchant invests in a scalable and reliable infrastructure to deal with increased demand which will ultimately make the whole process of BFCM less stressful!


With 52% of customers admitting they’d switched brands in the past year due to poor customer service, how can brands maintain great customer service post-purchase?

The key to post-purchase success is to minimise the opportunities for error in the back office. Errors can come from miss-packing in the warehouse, incorrect information being entered into systems, manual processes that allow for human error and having disparate information that isn’t easily accessible. Merchants should automate back-office processes and eliminate areas of high human contact with orders. For example, our research shows that 77% of negative reviews are related to issues that occur after the ‘buy button’, rather than product issues. Automating your back office also frees up time and money that can be invested in other resources such as marketing and acquisition efforts to scale your ecommerce business. 

A key metric that merchants should focus on is Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV). It allows you to make calculations about how much you can spend acquiring new customers. Simply put, if you take your average order value, multiplied by the number of repeat visits per customer, and the average retention time, you get your CLTV. If you can get customers to spend more, come back more often, and for a longer period of time, then you positively impact the CLTV.  The issue is that all too often, merchants are focussed on getting more customers through the door, rather than looking at retention strategies to ensure customers keep coming back again and again. Merchants who grow quickly are the ones that work to minimise their negative reviews and focus on making sure the whole customer experience is exceptional, not just the experience on the website and with their products.


With return rates being up to 30% during BFCM why is it important to have a returns policy in place and how can merchants prepare for an influx?

Returns policies are vital to both a retailer’s operational and customer acquisition strategy. For example, it’s been found that 67% of consumers check the return policy on a merchant’s site before making a purchase and that if a merchant offers a favourable and simple returns policy, 72% of consumers are likely to spend more with that merchant. Clearly during BFCM consumers are buying with the intention of returning and they’re spending a lot of time looking for the best deals. As a way of managing this increase, brands are offering things like longer return windows, different options for shipping items back, and free returns to provide the best shopping experience. This makes it easier for merchants to still capitalise on Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV), even if an item is later unwanted. So with all that in mind, making returns as straightforward and as seamless as possible will be a big conversion driver during this period.

Merchants should be mindful of trends like ‘Try Before You Buy (TBYB)’ during BFCM, as they have led to a huge increase in the number of returns that retailers have to deal with. Although favourable returns policies can encourage shoppers to purchase more, they may also return up to 4 extra items more, per month due to ease of sending them back. For retailers, this can be concerning, particularly when they don’t have an efficient system in place to cope with the surge of returning inventory. Added to the fact that the cost to a merchant of receiving these returned items could be twice as much as delivering them in the first palace. In order to stay one step ahead, merchants need to have a clear returns policy and an efficient system in place to deal with those returns. For those merchants looking for support with their returns management system, Brightpearl can help! 


How can ecommerce business owners implement how-to-guides / product care guides into BFCM given the scale of products that will be packaged and shipped? 

With the rise in online shopping this year, merchants are going to have to get extra creative whilst adapting to the new normal and preparing for the holiday season. That said, as more people get comfortable with shopping online and used to a new digital world, ecommerce retailers can certainly take advantage of sharing information via their online sites vs. traditional printed materials. Adding how-to guides and product care guides to easily searchable areas of the site where the product was purchased, or sending a link or printable PDF to your customer is definitely an option worth exploring. Linking back to your website can be a great opportunity to try and secure that second purchase, so using how-to-guides and product care guides in this way can be beneficial to brands looking to secure repeated business. 


Can you give examples of brands who you think offer their customers a great post-purchase experience and why? 

Fairfax & Favor have been doing phenomenally well during the pandemic and this in part due to the infrastructure they’ve put in place in their back office. They’ve been able to maintain their promise of next day delivery, with reduced staff in the warehouse, despite seeing a 300% increase in sales. This goes to show that having a scalable infrastructure can allow you to cope with surges in demand, and deliver exceptional experiences for customers, even in abnormal circumstances. 

Likewise, REP fitness has seen a 600% increase in sales during the pandemic, but have been able to maintain visibility of stock levels throughout all of their sales channels, meaning they never ran the risk of overselling an item that they didn’t actually have in stock. Additionally, REP fitness is a good example of a merchant who recognises the importance of getting their operations in order before the BFCM rush. They actually finished implementing Brightpearl one week before Black Friday weekend last year, which led to a very successful peak season for them and has helped them maintain a great post-purchase journey throughout the year. 


If you’d like to find out more about how Velstar can support you this BFCM get in touch with our team of Shopify Plus experts today! Additionally, if you’d like to watch the full interview with Alex, head over to our Youtube channel here. 


About Brightpearl: 

Brightpearl’s complete Digital Operations Platform (DOP) includes financial management, inventory and sales order management, purchasing and supplier management, CRM, fulfillment, warehouse and logistics. In addition, the solution has high-performing connectors to the major ecommerce platforms, including Shopify, Magento and BigCommerce. Over 1,400 businesses in 26 countries use our platform. We manage over 10m transactions and $3bn of business a year.