Revolutionizing eCommerce: How Post-Purchase Automation Reduces Operational Costs for Merchants

Revolutionizing eCommerce: How Post-Purchase Automation Reduces Operational Costs for Merchants

As a savvy merchant, you understand that every dollar counts, especially during the pivotal holiday season. It's in this bustling period when deeper discounts mean thinner margins, that automation shines.

Post-purchase automation is not just another buzzword. It's pivotal technology that, properly deployed, significantly reduces operational costs for eCommerce brands by optimizing efficiency. 

Instead of spending countless hours managing customer queries, setting up notifications, processing returns, and juggling inventory, these tasks are streamlined and automated. This doesn't just save you time—it saves you money.

Explore post-purchase automation with us. We'll show you how to turn potential overspends into efficient cost-saving strategies, no matter your experience level. 

But first, it makes sense to dive a little deeper into the resourcing challenges of BFCM and the entire holiday shopping season.

Understanding the problem: why manual tasks cost you, big time

It's an old saying, but it holds: time is money. 

While marketing activities, inventory management, and customer communication are constantly challenging, post-purchase operations can be the most time-consuming—and unnecessarily costly—aspects of running your eCommerce business.

During peak seasons, tracking packages, dealing with returns, and handling customer inquiries consume substantial time and resources. These tasks divert your attention from other vital business areas that require your expertise. The cost of hiring extra staff for these duties quickly adds up, too.

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High volumes of WISMO tickets drain your resources. Though they might seem straightforward, “where is my order?” (WISMO) inquiries from customers demand careful management if you’re tackling them manually. This demand not only stretches your workforce thin but also escalates operational costs. For instance, Gorgias estimates that each WISMO request that’s processed by a human costs you around $12 USD, quickly adding up if you’re handling hundreds or thousands.

WISMO tickets are often caused by a lack of transparency or minimal updates. Keeping every customer updated about their purchase journey is no small task, after all. It involves carefully crafted notifications, timely responses, and constant monitoring.  Things are ramped up even more during the holidays with carrier overload and port congestion potentially delaying packages even more.

Returns processing is another post-purchase activity notorious for draining resources. It's a complex procedure that involves multiple steps, from dealing with customer return requests to providing shipping labels and monitoring shipping status for returned items. During peak season, when returns surge, the costs associated with this process can quickly escalate.

Finally, inventory management presents its own challenges. Balancing between overstocking and understocking, predicting demand, managing warehouse space, and ensuring seamless supply chain operations are all part of this intricate process. In peak seasons, these complexities are amplified, leading to oversights and costly mistakes.

Thankfully, one solution helps reduce costs by addressing these challenges: post-purchase automation. It’s also easier to implement than you think. 

Let's dive in.

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How post-purchase automation can help during BFCM

The stakes soar during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

On the one hand, if your marketing campaigns have been successful, you'll see an influx of orders when shoppers open their wallets looking for the best deals. On the other hand, a higher volume of sales also means more shipments to prepare, more customer inquiries to answer, and more return and exchange requests to process.

Post-purchase automation alleviates these pressures by streamlining each. Let's tackle them one at a time:

WISMO tickets

Did you know that 82% of customers say it’s important to them for retailers to proactively communicate at every fulfillment and delivery stage?

Sometimes, merchants need to answer every WISMO ticket in person to create a positive customer experience. But that’s a mistake: automating responses is not only more efficient for you, but it also provides the answers they want faster and more directly. However, automating proactive communication can prevent a high volume of WISMO tickets in the first place.

Tackle WISMO tickets before they happen by providing real-time tracking updates and proactive notifications using AfterShip Tracking. Using automated workflows, you can get granular with rule-based notifications across multiple messaging channels. (For instance, when the estimated delivery date is 'revised' or shipment status updates to 'exception,' you can configure notifications to go straight to customers.)

Sometimes a customer won’t wait for a notification (or they miss it in their inbox). In these cases, you can make it easy for them to check on the status of their order with a self-service tracking page that matches your company’s brand. This keeps the customer informed, significantly reducing WISMO queries.

Finally, the more accurate your delivery dates, the fewer questions you’ll receive. With AfterShip Estimated Delivery Dates, you can add AI-powered delivery predictions to your automated shipping notifications and tracking page, providing yet more transparency for your customers.

By providing visibility and proactive tracking updates to customers, Stackcommerce reduced WISMO tickets by a staggering 71%.

Shipment visibility for improved customer notifications

WISMO tickets are a byproduct of post-purchase anxiety. Buyers want to know when their purchase will ship, what carrier you’re using, and when the package will arrive at their doorstep—and if you don’t supply clear and frequent updates, you will hear from them. 

This is why it’s important for you to have clear visibility into where your shipments are, allowing you to communicate that valuable information back to your customers. Thankfully, automation lets you proactively send customized notifications at each stage. Notifications are among the simplest forms of automation you can set up, but they have an immense impact on your bottom line.

AfterShip’s shipment visibility dashboard offers solutions to manage shopper expectations and streamline internal operations effectively. This centralized hub is where you easily monitor shipment status and address customer WISMO inquiries. With the dashboard, a retailer can readily spot shipment exceptions, enabling them to contact carriers proactively to resolve issues before customers notice, helping to reduce WISMO requests. 

Additionally, instead of navigating carrier websites individually, retailers can conveniently oversee all shipments in one centralized dashboard, drastically reducing the time and effort required.

AfterShip Tracking’s data analytics also reveal relevant notification metrics and performance over time. With this data, your team can evaluate the customer experience, optimizing your communication strategies and layering in additional automation as necessary

After implementing automated notifications, Inspire Uplift saw a 40% increase in click-through rate on emails and a 75% reduction in order inquiries.

Returns and exchanges

Returns are inevitable, especially when buyers are chasing time-bound deals and discounts. With post-purchase automation, however, you can simplify the entire process by creating a rule-based self-service experience that soothes customer pain and even recaptures lost revenue by incentivizing exchanges.

AfterShip Returns helps reduce the processing time (and even recapture revenue) of RMA requests through rule-based automation. 

Using AfterShip Returns, you’ll eliminate manual work with automated resolutions based on delivery status, speeding up approvals and even return label generation. Depending on your needs, for instance, you can offer “no questions asked” refunds or reserve the final click of approval. But regardless, AfterShip Returns lets you create a self-serve portal that handles 99% of communication with customers.

A successful exchange—in the form of another product, or through discounts or coupons—is also able to turn a potential loss into new business opportunities, and this process can be automated as well by adding exchange recommendations to your automated return process that allow shoppers to swap out a variant or another item altogether.

Finally, the Analytics Dashboard tracks return reasons and commonly returned products, allowing you to identify areas of improvement and inefficiencies. This, in turn, leads to significant savings in terms of both time and resources.

By automating the returns process for customers with a self-serve portal, Marc Nolan reduced the time spent on the returns process by 97%, freeing up their team to focus on growing the business and recapturing revenue.

Start automating your post-purchase today

Post-purchase automation empowers businesses to focus more on growth and less on micromanagement. During the busy Black Friday/Cyber Monday, it helps them reduce costs, maximize ROI, and create exceptional customer experiences.

With AfterShip, you have a comprehensive solution to help your business thrive during peak periods and beyond.

Ready to see how AfterShip will benefit your business? Try for free today.