Editor’s note: This interview is part one of a two-part series on crafting an effective post purchase experience for ecommerce customers in 2021
Randy Horton is a creative director that has helped large retail brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, and Land’s End craft the post-purchase experience for their omni-channel customers.
Randy recently sat down with Paccurate CEO James Malley to discuss the state of the ecommerce post-purchase experience.
James: Tell me about yourself
Randy: After graduating Denison University and traveling around Australia for a year, I returned to the states where I took a creative writing position at Abercrombie & Fitch. It involved a few responsibilities like crafting the brand voice, working on the full customer experience, and helping launch Hollister online.
I relished the fortune of really seeing the whole retail experience and getting to work on creating a story around the customers for engagement and loyalty - the whole nine-yards.
I really began to understand how important it is to have a cohesive and authentic brand experience for customers.
What’s the state of delivery as part of the ecommerce customer experience today?
Legacy retail brands are starting to recognize that it’s important, but many are lagging behind. Some invest a ton into the digital experience, but then they cut off the customer. There’s no thought to what happens after the buy button is clicked.
Even if an online store is well crafted, customers are getting more frustrated with sloppy post-purchase support, badly packed boxes, etc. All of a sudden your package arrives at your door in some flimsy plastic bag that doesn’t have any personality and it feels like a let down. It’s almost like you had a good first date but they’re not going to call you back.
You mention the flimsy plastic bag- do you think customers care about sustainable packing yet?
Definitely. We’ve all had to deal with the issue of something like a tiny teacup arriving in a box the size of a kitchen table. The waste is frustrating because you have to also think about dealing with recycling which eats up a lot of time and then you feel guilty about it if you don’t.
Do you see any solution there?
This issue can be solved if we just got smarter in the way we package everything. There’s a balance too, between exciting packaging that feels like a part of the whole experience, but also efficient packing.
The challenge is that it’s hard to get great feedback on how things are presented after purchases are made. There must be an opportunity for us to make delivery and packaging more unique and exciting but also logistically efficient.
If we introduced sustainable packing then it would resolve the issue of wasted packaging, add to experience and free up more of the budget to focus on creative post-purchase experience strategies.
There needs to be a crafted experience, and part of that is sustainable shipping. Everybody worries about their waste now, so it’s not just “green” brands that need to worry about it.
Who is ahead of the pack in terms of incorporating the actual delivery in the post purchase experience?
Smaller disruptor retail brands get it. They provide a great digital experience and an efficient post-purchase experience that’s impactful and environmentally friendly when it arrives at their home.
They look at understanding what younger generations require. Big brands recognise that they'd like to do it but they think it’s cost prohibitive, but with the pandemic they may be taking it into consideration more.
Who typically pushes for a better customer experience within an organization? Brand strategists?
Creatives. Or at least that’s my experience. I’ve been doing this for 18 years and have found creatives often get left out of a lot of supply chain conversations, like packaging and the packing process.
The average customer shops with you online upwards of maybe two-three times a year especially if you're a higher-end brand and lucky. Therefore, shouldn't you be focused on making that the best experience for them - to maybe get them to come four times a year? That one extra visit just put your brand value up by a quarter more than what you had before, and creatives help drive the activity that creates those return customers.
Getting creatives together with other stakeholders in finance, merchandising, planning, and procurement almost always yields some great discussions.
For example, if it’s going to cost X extra to execute an idea, but it’s going to increase customer retention by some measurable amount, and pay for itself, then it was a worthwhile improvement.
Paccurate helps with carbon footprint but most of our focus is on cost reduction for the shipper- do you see any role for us on the customer side of things?
Definitely. Customers are judging retailers on their efficiency. You could even tell them about the environmental impact when the shipment arrives. Like, “We use AI to help us reduce waste. This shipment was packed in X boxes because the alternative would have resulted in X lbs more carbon released.”