You work hard for every customer’s first sale — and still, many of them won’t come back.
With so much competition out there, it’s a challenge to stay in-sight of your customers’ wandering eyes.
Value-added services can help you build a mutually beneficial customer journey that differentiates you from other retailers and keeps them in your ecosystem post-purchase.
Value-added services are services or features that add above and beyond value to one or more points of the shopping experience.
Think about free shipping, for example. That’s a service that began as a real differentiator. Today, it’s table stakes, and many merchants are offering ultra-fast shipping to meet customer demand.
The ecommerce customer journey, with all its potential touchpoints, is constantly evolving. Value-added services can help you keep up with changing customer expectations from awareness to loyalty loop.
Let’s look at a few more examples of brands using value-added services to deliver customer-centric experiences.
For consumers, shopping online can often feel like a maze. With so many retailers and products to consider, consumers often don’t know where to turn.
Guide the customer to the best item for their needs with product recommendations, based on intelligence from previous clicks and purchases. Salesforce shows how powerful this “helping hand” can be, estimating that recommendation clicks lead to 24% of orders and 26% of revenue in the ecommerce space.
The audio retailer JBL offers a carousel of recommended products on each product page to help customers find the exact model they need—along with items they didn’t know they wanted.
JBL doesn’t stop there. They add even more value to these carousels by including customer ratings and customization options alongside each recommended product image.
Pro Tip: Save customers clicks by including relevant information alongside your recommended product images. Is the recommended product on sale? Is its color customizable? This information can help customers more quickly narrow their searches.
An ecommerce brand’s return policy can drive purchases and make or break the customer relationship. Easy returns can help motivate a customer to make a purchase knowing they have a safety net if they’re unsatisfied. Narvar reports that if a return policy is “easy” or “very easy,” 96% of customers would continue shopping at the business.
Bedding retailer Bear makes life easier for their customers by allowing them to sleep on their mattress for up to 100 nights before returning. Even better, a customer can initiate a return with a simple email, and Bear will arrange to pick up the unwanted mattress. That’s it!
Pro tip: To a customer, placing a phone call to make a return can mean hours on hold. Use digital and self-serve channels for returns whenever possible to make the process more convenient. Structuring your returns policy in Q&A form makes it easier to digest.
Because they reward customers for repeat shopping, loyalty programs are an excellent way to increase customer retention.
According to HBR, companies with strong loyalty marketing programs grow revenues 2.5x faster than their competitors.
Online jewelry retailer Jewlr knows that their customers want to feel like VIPs, so they offer a robust point-based loyalty program. The more Jewlr shoppers spend, the more special perks they receive.
A customer becomes a VIP simply by signing up for the program online. Jewlr starts a new VIP with 1000 “Jewls” (points), even if they have not yet made a purchase. With every new purchase, customers accrue Jewls, which can be redeemed as savings on additional products. This program unlocks additional value-added services like free 2-day shipping and early access to new products.
Loyalty program benefits can be based on a number of factors—including points, amount spent, number of purchases, or number of new customer referrals.
Pro tip: Don’t assume there’s a “right” structure for rewards systems. Don’t be afraid to test different program structures until you find the one that most resonates with your customers.
Ecommerce merchants face a greater risk of returns than brick-and-mortar stores, because their items can be damaged during shipping.
According to a 2020 SaleCycle study, 80% of ecommerce returns result from the product arriving broken.
Even if the product arrives safely, package theft can send the customer back to the merchant with a claim. 24% of respondents to a 2019 Shorr survey indicate that they have been victims of package theft.
"Extend Shipping Protection is a crucial part of our efforts to deliver a best-in-class digital experience that drives customer lifetime value and increases brand loyalty. We've seen increased shipping issues over the past few years, and being able to offer our customers the opportunity to protect their purchases while enroute to their homes is a tremendous value add," said Ali Oner, CEO at Boutique Rugs.
"With Extend Shipping Protection, our customers are protected and we save millions of dollars in product replacement costs."
Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart drive loyalty with one-day delivery, easy returns, and product protection. All of these services are valuable, but product protection keeps customers using products. In a world where it’s so easy to switch to a competitor, a working product is the best way to box out competition.
With BlendJet’s immense popularity, best-in-class customer service is not simply essential to a quality customer experience; it’s an expectation. Ryan is candid about how Extend has impacted the customer experience through BlendJet’s customer service.
“I think our customer service team would prefer that everyone has an Extend protection plan,” he said. “When a customer accidentally drops and breaks their BlendJet while doing something adventurous, like climbing Mount Everest, Extend has them covered!
"Customer service loves it when they can delight our customers with quick and easy replacements, without charging them a dime."
Merchants who sell plans offered by Extend want to delight their customers with quick claim processing. Owning that part of the customer relationship gives them a clear competitive advantage.
The data speaks for itself:
Our internal research reveals that customers who purchase our plans from a merchant partner repeat at a rate 4.5% higher than customers who haven't purchased a plan from that merchant.
Extend’s digitally native, full-stack offering is redefining the product protection experience, offering protection against an array of product failures that traditional insurers may not cover. We can handle everything from offer merchandising and optimization to claims adjudication to an amazing end-to-end customer experience. All so that merchants get more time to do what they do best: selling their products.