Sales – after the transaction

I have a pet peeve about shopping online, or rather after shopping online. I’m sure you’ve experienced some of the extremes; so many emails regarding your account being created, your order being accepted, your card being charged, the warehouse staff having a tea break, and the other extreme, thank you for order…and nothing. Make sure you’re not missing repeat sales, check you’re not making these simple to correct mistakes.

Selling doesn’t stop when the customer has purchased. The way you treat the customer after the transaction can determine whether they shop again, and when the cost of customer acquisistion can be so high, it irritates me that so many get it go so badly wrong.

Repeat sales; cheaper than new customer acquisition.

I’ve pulled out two recent examples from real online purchases I’ve made, one company almost getting it absolutely spot on, with only a few small changes I’d recommend, and the other who got it so badly wrong, I’d prefer not to shop with them again if I can avoid it.

The first, a company called Bakery Bits sent a total of 6 emails during the entire process. The first, the order confirmation sent out within minutes of me placing the order. It is essential to get this right, if you leave your customer wondering if the order went through ok you’re causing them an unnecessary potential anxious wait, which they might remember next time they’re looking to shop online.
The email itself is ok, thanking me for the order twice, confirming everything you would expect, a couple of information links at the bottom of the email which you hardly notice, nothing that comes across as salesy.
The email does say that delilvery will be in 2-5 days, which is exactly what I was expecting. In fact the only thing missing is an agenda as to what will happen next, i.e. will I get an email, or will the goods turn up. Setting agendas is always good practice, a customer who knows what to expect is a customer who is happy. I’m not talking paragraphs here, just a very simple “Shipping – Standard Courier (2-5 days). You will receive an email when your order is despatched.”

That’s all, just to let your customer know that you will be in touch again.

The second email is a great example of how to look after you customer. It is a delivery notification for the following day, but it has links in it (in great big buttons) for me to change my delivery, and track my delivery. Great job by their courier company DPD, and great implementation by Baker Bits.

The third email arrives minutes later and is an invoice. This reassures me that payment processed ok, gives me another opportunity to review what I ordered and what I paid. It’s also a VAT receipt should anyone need one.

The fourth and fifth emails are the ones that I might take slight exception to, one immediately after the invoice to say my order has been packed, and one to say it has been dispatched. I’m not really fussed about packing orders, and really sending me one to say it has been dispatched fifteen minutes after I got one to say it was being delivered tomorrow was a bit of a waste. But it’s not disastrous, if you are going to ere on one side or the other it should be too much communication.

The final email is the best example of what these guys are doing right. A full two weeks after I placed the order (bearing in mind delivery is 2-5 days) they sent me a follow up email to ask me to leave a review. Not only is the email is well worded, they also make it easy to leave the review right their in your email client. Talk about removing obstacles. This is a great example of how to get it right.

Notice the underlined sections in the email above, the use of I makes it personal. “We are dependent on your recommendations to grow” plays on peoples desire to help. If I review this item I will help you grow. Using the word happy put the reviewer in a more positive frame of mind right before they write the review.

It’s also worth noting that the ‘from’ field of all the emails was BakeryBits – for the Artisan Baker, except the delivery notification which was BakeryBits. All good brand reinforcement.


Now that I’ve positively put myself in a good mood looking at this case study of how to get it right, it’s time to look at the way not to do it.

The second order was placed with homebase.

Immediately after placing the order I received a confirmation email confirming the order, acknowleding payment, and a rather nice touch, clearly stating the my card had been charged, but if they cannot accept the order they will provide a full refund. Nice reassurance and agenda setting there.
The email also specified home delivery within 3 days.
The only complaint I have with this email is that the from field was “order.enquiries”. Not only missing an opportunity to reinforce the brand, but also, what exactly is order enquiries? Order confirmation would be clearer in my opinion.

The second email received was from “Homebase Product Reviews” – Subject “Tell us what you think of your recent purchase”.
The psychology of the email was good, although not as good as Bakery Bits’. The use of five green stars to indicate the email was about reviews was good, leading customers towards awarding the all important five stars, although a little blatant. To actually leave a review there was a button which opened their website to leave the review. Easy and convinient, although again not as good as the Bakery Bits example. My real issue with this was that the email was received 18 hours after placing the order. Given the order was placed after normal working hours, there could be no way I could have received this product even if delivery had been next day service. As it was up to three days, how was I expected to have received it and used it? The downside of soliciting reviews this early is that the email will be deleted before the customer is ready to review, or it will be forgotten.

The third email I received the following day, and it was a marketing email. Sending out a marketing email before my order has been dispatched is poor form. I was so put out that I never opened it. A missed opportunity to have me read marketing messages when I was receptive, i.e. after I had received the goods, and my happiness with the service was fresh in my mind.

And that unfortunately was the end of the emails. The goods did arrive as promised within 3 days (on the third day) but I didn’t know for sure they would until they arrived. Not sending any kind of dispatch notification is just plain bad service, leaving a customer unsure as to whether they need to wait in or not, especially on an up to three day delivery.


Gret job then Bakery Bits, must try hard homebase!

Don’t let a lack of a proper system leave your customers with a bad taste in their mouth. Put the basics in place, and help to make sure your customers return, the cheapest way to secure a sale there is!

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