Transparency: Driving a Perfect Holiday Shopping Experience

How to use pre & post purchase transparency to drive more conversion & build customer retention this holiday season!

Retailers begin preparing for the busy holiday season months in advance, but it’s a notoriously last minute affair for customers. According to Shopify, 40% of online shoppers will wait until the last 10 days before Christmas to complete a purchase. These late gifters can present numerous challenges for brands during a hectic time when they’re already swamped. Increased workload and fulfillment needs aside, some less obvious hurdles could be standing in the way of a great shopping experience.

Eleventh hour jitters, coupled with rising ecommerce expectations, can make it harder to gain customers’ trust during the holidays. This trust is essential though, as most retailers earn 20-30% of their yearly revenue during these months! To be successful, you’ll need to mitigate customers’ increased pre purchase anxieties and use post purchase moments to build loyalty.

While bigger brands can simply offer free shipping for every order, smaller retailers are forced to think outside of the box. By focusing on transparency and scalable, customer-centric initiatives you can optimize the holiday shopping experience of your online store. Clear expectations and proactive notifications can increase your conversion rate and keep new holiday customers coming back – let’s see how!

Conversion: Estimated Delivery Date & Shipping Cut Off Times During the Pre Purchase Stage

Place estimated delivery dates and shipping cutoff times on product, cart, and checkout pages to help set clear expectations for shoppers. Brands who rely solely on shipping times may lose gifters who are already nervous about holiday deadlines. As customers get more familiar with online shopping, they know that “time in transit” isn’t the only variable to consider. With transparency you can increase conversion, reduce shopping cart abandonment rates, and enhance the checkout flow.

Estimated Delivery Dates should take into account processing and transit time, as well as the customer’s location for accuracy. Shipping cut off times inform the accuracy of the estimated due date and create a sense of urgency for customers. For best results they should be added to the following pages:

Product Page

The first introduction of the estimated delivery day should be on the product page. This works together with your product description, images, FAQs, and more to increase conversion through transparency. Only one date can be shown, so many retailers opt to display their carrier’s standard, or most often selected, service. For example, this could be UPS or FedEx Ground.

The shipping cut off time should be added to the product page to drive conversion through a sense of urgency. Countdowns are the most effective format to get customers to act before it’s too late. This is a great tactic year round, but especially during the holiday season. Remember, a long weekend could be the difference between making it for Christmas which would be an experience dealbreaker.

Cart Page

The cart page may be a big step forward in the process, but the sale is not complete yet. Shoppers abandon this page when their shipping anxieties are not properly put to rest.

Put customers at ease by introducing them to your full range of delivery options. Display the estimated arrival date and shipping costs for each option. This allows customers to weigh speed versus price and make the best choice for their situation.

Adding shipping cut off times to the cart page can drive holiday sales with an extra layer of transparency. Customers can clearly see how long they have to select each shipping option for the delivery date to be valid.

Avoid vague or general statements, instead relying on the individual user’s location to specifically speak to them. “Order in five minutes to receive by tomorrow” works more effectively than “orders placed by 3PM EST ship today!” The latter is technically correct but requires too much manual calculation at the hands of the customer. Take out the guesswork so shoppers feel more comfortable buying from you.

Checkout Page

Placing estimated delivery dates and shipping cut off times on the checkout page works similarly to the cart page. Display all options clearly with price, date, and remaining time to be processed today. Calculate the total price of the product with each shipping option to paint the clearest picture for customers.

Transparency when dealing with price is extremely important with customers. “28% of shoppers will abandon their shopping cart if presented with unexpected shipping costs,” says Neil Patel. Therefore it’s important you establish their options clearly and consistently through the cart and checkout pages.

Customer Retention: Proactive Notifications Throughout the Post Purchase Stage

Getting the conversion is only the beginning of the experience, especially if you’re dealing with new, first time customers. The holidays magnify post purchase dissonance because the customer is worried about letting down their loved one. Focus on proactive emails and SMS notifications throughout the entire post purchase experience to reduce anxiety and create a positive touchpoint.

Email

Since online orders are generally tied to an email address, this serves as most retailers’ primary form of customer communication. Transactional emails are highly effective, with a three times higher open rate than average marketing ones.

Start with the order confirmation email immediately after the purchase is completed. This reinforces your reliability and is the building block of a strong post purchase strategy. It comes complete with great ROI and re-engagement possibilities – just in time for your newly acquired holiday customers.

Send the shipping confirmation email as soon as the product is processed, packed, and out the door. This is an easy way to reduce any anxieties your holiday shoppers may still be harboring. Include links to a branded, shoppable tracking page so the customer feels in control and relaxed. The tracking and order detail pages keep users up to date about the location and arrival date of their package.

Finally, cap the experience with an order delivered email. Notifying customers of the package’s arrival enables them to quickly take action if they haven’t actually received it. Make sure to include all relevant delivery details so the customers know exactly what to do next. The customer may have many gifts on the way, so adding order details makes it easy to pinpoint the exact transaction.

SMS

Transactional emails are really helpful, but make sure you’re talking with customers on the platforms they prefer. SMS notifications are the perfect method of communication for many of today’s modern online shoppers. Over five billion people have the ability to send and receive text messages, and they boast a 98% open rate. SMS open rates are just about five times higher than that of email.

Make it easy for customers to opt in or out of these communications. We recommend immediately after the purchase (thank you page) and the order detail page in case they change their minds. Leaving the option in the order detail page allows the customer a degree of flexibility in their experience.

Perhaps the best use of SMS messaging is a step by step narration of the shipment process. Connect your customer with accurate, up to date information from the carrier. Out for delivery is a very useful notification as it helps users to plan ahead to intercept the package. As a bonus, this also thwarts potential porch pirates by minimizing stoop time.

Proactively notify customers of any potential shipping issues. These can include weather delays, a wrong or incomplete address, and failed delivery attempts. The package is in the hands of the carrier, but your customer still needs your help. By helping them resolve issues in a timely manner you’ll create an unforgettable experience that breeds loyalty.

Conclusion

Holidays are hectic, but the shopping experience on your website doesn’t have to be. Give customers what they want by fighting confusion and anxiety with transparency and proactivity. More cost effective than offering free shipping on every order, and they’re the true tickets to a customer’s heart!

Embrace transparency on your product pagesto edge out your competition and increase conversion.

Provide proactive messaging throughout the post purchase phase to put customers at ease and build retention.

Grant customers hassle free gift giving this holiday season – they won’t forget it.