Most retailers are very familiar with the first half of the buyer’s journey: the consumer becomes aware of a problem, considers their solutions, and evaluates whether or not to make a purchase. This journey, also described as a sales funnel, is where most sellers focus their marketing efforts to influence the buyer to select their store and products.
However, the customer journey does not end at the point of sale. There are many touchpoints after the buyer has completed their order that can be used to nurture the buyer’s relationship with a business and increase the likelihood of future purchases. This is called the loyalty loop, which can often be overlooked by busy businesses as a key part of their marketing strategy. Effective shipping practices play a huge role in influencing customers’ future shopping habits within the loyalty loop.
What Is the Loyalty Loop?
The loyalty loop is the process that the customer goes through after their purchase, which determines if they will purchase from the business in the future or if they’ll instead decide to look for other options. This marketing model shows that there are still many opportunities to delight and retain customers, reinforcing the brand relationship.
There are three phases to the loyalty loop after the sale:
- Enjoy – Customers evaluate whether or not the buying experience was an enjoyable one, by looking at factors such as product quality, customer service, and shipping performance.
- Advocate – If the overall experience was positive, they will share this information with their social circle, whether through direct communication, writing reviews, or making repeat purchases.
- Bond – After aligning strongly with a business, they will naturally feel an affinity to that brand and remain a strong supporter and customer.
If a retailer builds a strong relationship with their customers throughout the loyalty loop, it can build customer loyalty and improve the overall lifetime value of a customer. However, if the loyalty loop is overlooked, it will be easier for competitors to lure customers away with better offers and experiences.
How Shipping Logistics Strengthens the Loyalty Loop
Shipping logistics plays a huge role in the customer experience post-sale. Shipping speed and quality are the first factors that buyers encounter, before even receiving the product. A strong logistics system is essential, as it sets the tone for future purchase decisions.
However, there are many more opportunities throughout the loyalty loop for a strong shipping logistics system to impress customers and encourage future sales. Consider additional areas that build customer relationships which sellers can influence throughout the loyalty loop.
Prior to the sale, buyers place a lot of weight on the price and speed of shipping. This is why free shipping and Amazon Prime’s 2-day shipping are so successful in attracting new customers.
After the sale, customers evaluate whether the seller lives up to their shipping promise. Any delays or unexpected shipping costs can confuse or frustrate customers, souring their overall experience. Poor quality packaging, back orders, or damaged goods can also leave buyers feeling less than satisfied with the fulfillment process.
By optimizing your shipping logistics systems, shipping costs and times can be minimized. Logistics allow for products to be quickly packaged and shipped at scale, which reduces packaging costs and overall shipping rates with the major delivery companies. Quality checks can be performed at each stage, and inventory levels can be managed to prevent selling out of the most popular items.
Shoppers are seeking out the best overall shopping experience, which includes the presentation of the product within its packaging. While basic packaging gets the job done, it misses the opportunity to delight customers and encourage them to share the unboxing experience on their social media channels.
Branded packaging creates a special relationship with customers. From the moment they see the package with the business logo and brand colors, their enthusiasm builds as they anticipate opening it. Matching internal packaging, such as custom fill, containers, and decorations add a memorable touch to the special experience.
Customers will often share their unboxing experience on social media, whether through Facebook and Instagram stories or Youtube videos. They will take the time to capture the experience because the shipper has taken the time to make it special for them. This encourages their social media following to shop at the company, boosting future sales. It also strengthens the bond that the buyer has with the business since they aligned themselves with the seller by promoting the brand to their friends.
Another way that logistics can strengthen the loyalty loop is through the smaller moments that can make all the difference. By adding a personalized note or other small gifts to the package, the buyer will feel that the retailer truly cares about their shopping experience and values them as a customer.
Many retailers add coupons or other special deals to their packaging and consider the job done, but customers have come to expect those. By adding a small note on special stationery or a branded notecard that genuinely thanks them for their business, buyers will feel appreciated. This can be quickly automated during the shipping process, and it can prove well worth the extra effort.
Small gifts or samples related to the purchased product are another way to please customers. By providing a taste of a similar item, it shows that the company understands what their buyers need, both now and for future purchases. The surprise also adds value to the purchase and gives buyers another reason to sing the company’s praises.
Strengthen your Loyalty Loop
The loyalty loop allows businesses to address their customers’ post-sale needs, reinforcing brand loyalty and spurring future sales from both the buyer and their network. As the buyer reviews their shopping experience, they will decide whether to stick with the current seller or look for opportunities elsewhere.
Through logistics, buyers can be encouraged to remain loyal customers of the retailer, and share their positive experiences online. Through high-quality shipping, branded packaging, and small gifts and notes, customers will feel confident that they made the right buying decision and will be more likely to align themselves with the business on social media. Make the most of the logistics process so you can strengthen your customers’ loyalty loop and improve your customer retention rate.