Why E-Commerce Brands Need to Invest in Great Aftersales Service

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Most e-commerce companies know that the world is entering the golden era for online businesses. According to data from Statista, e-commerce accounted for 7.4% of total global retail sales in 2015 and that is set to jump to 24.5% by 2025. 

That means there are enough opportunities to make any e-commerce brand grow tremendously during these times. Online businesses across the region and worldwide are now actively doing their best to be in the best position to get a bigger market share and possibly retain their foothold in a market arena that is characterized by strong competition among numerous players. 

While e-commerce brands logically make it their main goal to grow sales and increase profits, those must intend to keep high customer satisfaction to ensure steady performance. Thus, there is a constant need for a great and reliable aftersales service.

Aside from offering good products and having effective marketing strategies, e-commerce businesses need to be in the right marketplace or platform. The journey to becoming highly profitable does not end there. Just like any business, they must make sure they always keep their customers or shoppers always satisfied and happy. 

Customer satisfaction is not as easy as it seems. An e-commerce brand must satisfy customers before, during, and most especially after every purchase. The most successful online shops are those that put in place a reliable aftersales service to continuously improve brand image and create truly loyal customers. 

What is an aftersales service? 

Aftersales service comes the moment a customer makes a purchase from an e-commerce store. It comprises all the actions the business does to follow up on purchase satisfaction. The aim is to keep engagement and attention high with the brand. 

E-commerce companies succeed in offering outstanding shopping experiences through easier navigation and flexible payment processes. Those even come up with lots of interesting content about products and even effective search engine optimization (SEO) practices and sound marketing approaches to further advertise their products so that more other customers keep coming in.

Unfortunately, numerous customers rant that many e-commerce brands’ services abruptly get bad after their orders are placed. This is where a reliable e-commerce aftersales customer service must get in to ensure high customer satisfaction, which would lead to loyalty and more customers getting in (those purchasers could spread the word about the great experience to their friends or post impressive reviews or feedback that could reach more online consumers).

Unlike any conventional or traditional store, e-commerce lacks physical access to products during the purchase process. This is a limitation of the online process. Thus, it is always possible for a customer to receive a faulty product or a merchandise that falls below expectations. That is why they will need to contact the online seller or even return their order. This process is covered by the aftersales service. Unsatisfactory products could still lead to great customer trust if the e-commerce brand handles the situation effectively and in a timely manner. 

What happens after the purchase payment is part of the aftersales service. The journey of the purchased product from the warehouse of the e-commerce brand to the logistics partner down to the fulfillment provider is also covered by that. This is why it is also crucial for an e-commerce business to choose the right logistics partner as the delivery experience could make or break customer satisfaction. 

The experience from that point will be defined by how the product was handled during the delivery process. The duration of the logistics process is also an important factor. Of course, no customer wants to endure a very long and tedious shipment procedure. And not to be overlooked is the overall cost of the entire transaction. It has also become a must for every delivery to be possibly tracked—where it actually is the moment the customer makes inquiries about its whereabouts. 

Types of e-commerce aftersales services

Every customer go through a long but definitive process the moment he/she comes to the e-commerce store to find and buy a product. It is the responsibility of the online business to make sure the shopper gets what he/she paid for. Thus, there are several types of aftersales services that can be offered by an e-commerce brand. Here are those.

Offering product manual or guide

Devices, tools, machines, or just about any physical product sold online need to come with an operating manual that contains the basic information for proper usage, especially for first-time users. In some cases, pre-installation or training services are necessary, while at times, instructional videos for installation and use of equipment will do. 

Providing warranty

Every product is expected to be in the best condition from the moment the customer gets it until a specified time. This is why a warranty is a necessity. A good aftersales service would facilitate the easy and free replacement of products with manufacturer defects. Most of the time, e-commerce companies encourage the repair of damaged or dysfunctional parts—for free within a specified period. 

Setting up online support

Online support is the most common type of aftersales service provided by e-commerce brands. The online businesses set up and provide a helpline to address customers’ issues about the products they purchased. To earn customer satisfaction, the online support must be accessible 24/7. Brand representatives must be properly trained to carefully and politely listen to each query and of course to provide helpful guidance about the products sold. 

Facilitating product replacement or return

Product replacement or return is very important in e-commerce transactions. Customers could not settle for substandard products delivered to them. It is also not acceptable to receive products with factory or manufacturing damages. In traditional stores, this mechanism has become more common and easier. Online, it is fast becoming a norm. E-commerce companies must carefully set terms and conditions covering this aftersales service, clearly stating the period when this could be allowed. Most importantly, this aftersales service must be offered for free and at the quickest time possible. 

Offering lifetime guarantee

There is a rising number of e-commerce brands offering a lifetime guarantee for the products they sell. Often, this aftersales service is used to justify higher tag prices. Not surprisingly, such an aftersales offer makes customers the happiest.

Providing refund

The customer is always a king. If a product does not meet the expectations set in marketing and if product repair and replacement do not work, an impressive e-commerce brand could offer a refund of the purchase cost. In most instances, the product is required to be returned to the online seller. Though this aftersales offering would not help boost sales and profits of the e-commerce business, it will tremendously earn high scores in terms of customer loyalty and satisfaction. 

Importance of having aftersales service 

If an e-commerce brand wants customers to come back and make more orders, it should understand that it is a must to provide an excellent aftersales service. One marketing principle to be observed is that while it is a challenge to convince an online customer to place an order, it is more challenging to retain that customer and develop loyalty to the e-commerce brand. But once these are met, online sales moving forward are ensured. 

The most common customer complaints include products that take so long to be delivered or deliveries that actually never arrive. Also in the list are products that are delivered in poor condition or with handling damages. Customers also dread questions about the products that are not properly answered. 

Every e-commerce company must avoid conflict with an angry customer and an aftersales team that evades or washes hands about a problem raised after the purchase. It is a mortal sin for an online company to set harsh and unreasonable aftersales policies or worse to ignore offering an aftersales service. 

Some e-commerce platforms or marketplaces have their own aftersales services but customers could only expect so much from them. A reputable e-commerce brand initiates to assume the responsibility to reinforce its own aftersales service. 

By putting a reliable aftersales service, an e-commerce company could earn overall customer satisfaction with the business or products. It would then translate to customer loyalty leading to higher sales—from the satisfied customers and their friends or relatives who have heard the good reviews and feedback about the online business. 

A reliable aftersales service could quickly resolve problems in the delivery or receipt of the shipment and even in the product itself. This may be a great investment on the part of the e-commerce business, but it would bring about great advantages and profits in the long run. 

Moreover, reliable aftersales services could also help avoid more pressing problems possibly arising from market regulators. Every country has legislations that protect consumers’ rights. Some marketplaces like Shopee or Lazada also upholds policies regarding customer complaints about products sold and delivered. The aftersales service provided could prevent complaints that may reach government watchdogs and marketplace monitoring teams, which in turn could possibly lead to greater business problems in the future. 

Lastly, a good and reliable aftersales service could help make sure a good brand image is maintained. Online shoppers have become very particular about the kind of experience e-commerce brands bring about. It is important to always be in the better side. 

How to achieve good aftersales service?

Sporadic consumers abound in the online marketplace. Putting a good aftersales service in place could help build their trust so they could be converted into long-term and loyal shoppers—who in turn could also be good marketing channels as they tend to spread the word about their satisfaction with the e-commerce experience. 

Aside from putting in place the common types of aftersales services, there are some other effective strategies that could help an e-commerce brand boost their aftersales service. Here are some that could be considered. 

Offer a possible complementary service or item.

As mentioned earlier, some products must always come with user manuals (some offer instructional videos) to help customers understand the products more and use those items properly. In cases when a product requires an expert’s assistance for assembly and installation, why not offer such service for free? Every customer would certainly appreciate it more because they value cost savings and the thoughtfulness of the e-commerce brand. 

Frequently track customer satisfaction.

One way to surely annoy a customer is to send him/her a message every few days. Make them think your business cares more by frequently touching base to ask about their thoughts or to provide them updates about the progress of the delivery. Take note to reach them in their preferred contacts—through emails, SMS, phone calls, or messenger services. Aftersales does not end after the receipt of the item. Set a contact action to know their feedback about the products they received and offer suggestions or tips on how they could maximize the usefulness or take good care of the items.

Offer compensation for aftersales issues.

One effective way to convert an aftersales problem into a good experience is to try compensating for such an issue. If issues arise from the timely delivery of the product, the e-commerce business could possibly compensate by offering coupons or freebies (small items). Other ideal forms of compensation are product replacements or possible refunds. Offering those would build a mindset that the e-commerce brand is not all about sales and profits but about bringing the best to the customers. An online business could avoid getting to this option by making sure the earlier stages of the process run smoothly. 

Overall, a good and reliable aftersales service is necessary to ensure the success of any e-commerce brand. Setting up an effective aftersales team and processes may require a hefty investment, but it surely will pay off in the long run. A successful e-commerce business is one that has a good reputation and has set thinking among consumers that its main purpose is to bring the best products along with the best customer experiences. 

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