As online shoppers move through the purchasing funnel, they experience a series of psychological states. First, there’s pre-purchase anxiety. This is the stage in which buyers consider their options and look for reassurance they’re making the right decision. They may look around your website for social proof, hoping others’ experiences can guide them as they move toward the final transaction.
After they muster up the courage to confirm their purchase, it’s time to wait for delivery. And, no matter how excited consumers were when they bought, this is where it becomes important for merchants to manage post-purchase rationalization in ecommerce. After all, anyone who has bought something online knows it’s all too easy to start second-guessing yourself between when you click “Buy” and when the package shows up on your doorstep.
Defining The Problem
Post-purchase rationalization is some cognitive bias shoppers use to convince themselves they’ve made the right purchase, no matter what. Basically, it serves to justify their actions in the aftermath. Let’s say a shopper impulsively bought a wearable fitness tracker online after deciding their New Year’s resolution would be to get more exercise. Afterwards, they wonder if they should have shopped around for deals first. Before too much guilt can creep in, their post-purchase rationalization kicks in to reassure them they did the right thing.
Why It Matters
Ecommerce stores have a vested interest in managing post-purchase rationalization in ecommerce. If your shoppers are experiencing too much buyer’s remorse, it means your store could be doing more to help them make informed purchase decisions.
Again, for the people in the back: Your ecommerce store should go the extra mile to help customers fully understand their options and make knowledgeable purchase decisions. Yes, your primary goal is to sell electronics online. But managing buyer’s remorse, and thus post-purchase rationalization, will help keep return rates low. It also helps keep customers satisfied, so they’ll shop again in the future—and recommend your business to a friend.
What You Can Do
According to a survey from the National Retail Federation, nearly half of retailers offer free return shipping. But this practice, while pleasing customers, cuts into profit margins and adds another layer of complexity to supply chain management. Consumers experiencing buyer’s remorse are more likely to send items back, requesting a refund or exchange. Ergo, it’s cost-effective to try to eliminate this need on the front-end.
Here are a few suggestions for positively influencing purchase decisions so your customers get it right the first time:
– Feature customer reviews (positive and negative) where customers can easily find them
– Include high-definition product photographs from multiple angles, plus video if applicable
– Fill out product listings with features and specifications so consumers can avoid surprises
– Make sure product listings are easy to read, in a conducive format for drawing accurate conclusions fast
– Produce supplementary written and video content explaining your products in-depth
– Publish your full return policy on a dedicated landing page
Here’s Another Smart Move
One way to determine how customers feel about their post-purchase journey with your ecommerce store is to send out follow-up surveys. The key here is to keep it short, simple and specific. After all, your shoppers are busy people. Ask specific questions pertaining to their pre- and post-purchase experience. There are a few separate factors to gauge here: how they felt about using your website, how they felt about checkout/delivery and how they feel about the product itself. If you’re getting excessive feedback that people are disappointed with what shows up on their doorstep, it’s time to reconsider how you’re advertising or perhaps the product itself.
Managing post-purchase rationalization in ecommerce really means optimizing your website to help buyers make informed decisions from the get-go. Then they’ll have nothing to regret.