Ecommerce

IRCE ’19: Narvar and Signature Hardware Share Their Insights Behind the How, What, and When of Customer Communications

The modern consumer demands relevancy, personalization, and cohesive on-brand experiences throughout their entire customer journey. For brands to win over and retain customers, they need to deliver the right message at the right time in the right channel.

At IRCE in Chicago, Andre Anderson, Director of Commercial Sales at Narvar, and Sean Fisher, Senior Director of Brand Experience at Signature Hardware, share how they use customer communications to improve customer lifetime value, brand loyalty, and conversion rate.

Enhancing the Post-Purchase Experience

Narvar helps brands enhance the post-purchase experience from order tracking to delivery notifications. Andre Anderson shares how they make it easy for shoppers to manage the delivery, adjust order communication preferences, and return online orders.

Through customer research, Narvar has found that it cost brands five times as much to bring in a new customer than it is to retain one. Once you’ve acquired a customer, what does it take to retain them? Anderson sites that 54% of consumers will give repeat business to a company that can predict when the package will arrive. And, 53% will not make a purchase if they do not know when it will arrive. 

It’s all about avoiding the “where is my package?” moment.

Set delivery expectations as early as the shopping cart. By showing an estimated delivery date in the cart and providing delivery options in the checkout with arrival dates, you improve customer confidence and ultimately conversions.

Continue the transparent messaging throughout the entire delivery process. Narvar has found that transactional emails have not only high open rates but also high conversion rates. Anderson suggested using these emails to promote other products and to provide any delivery updates–both good and bad. In fact, 98% of consumers say they feel better about a company if they are notified about updates or changes right away, such as delayed delivery, the package is out for delivery, or the item is out of stock.

Leverage returns to turn a dissatisfied customer into a raving fan. Anderson notes that 96% of consumers will determine if they will shop again with a brand based on the return experience. Similar to the delivery date, it’s important to prominently place the returns policy in the cart. Customers are also looking for multiple return options, specifically, return in-store. In Narvar’s poll, 40% of consumers said that it was easier for them to return if there is a store involved and 17% wouldn’t buy from a digitally native brand if they didn’t have an option to return in-store.  For their digitally native merchants that lack physical locations, Narvar partners with Walgreens to enable customers to pick-up and drop off packages for return. (Fun fact: 80% of Americans live within five miles of a Walgreens). 

What Do Customers Need in the Digital Age?

Fisher describes the early days of Signature Hardware as an authentic, locally owned family business. The father and son team founded Signature Hardware in 1999 by putting homewares for sale on eBay. The two quickly realized they could offer a better experience than the manufacturers they were purchasing products from. The father was a local plumber, and created Signature Hardware based on the standard of always “taking care of your neighbors.” 

Side-by-side, Fisher showed the audience the original website from 20 years ago and today’s ecommerce site (built by Blue Acorn iCi). Signature Hardware’s ecommerce site is continually progressing and has moved towards an emotional state over the years in order to create a personal connection with the consumer.

Due to the nature of the products they sell (think: clawfoot tubs, plumbing supplies, kitchen sinks), Signature Hardware doesn’t have many repeat customers. A customer may only do two or three kitchen or bathroom remodels in their lifetime, “We average 15 orders per customer over 20 years of our business,” says Fisher. 80% of their customers never return, so they needed to shift their focus from retention to acquisition in order to grow the business.

Signature Hardware developed a customer-centered acquisition model—one that alleviates some of the stress of remodeling a home and makes the shopping process as easy as possible. Fishers outlines five ways they take care of their customers in the digital age:

  1. Simplicity – Create consistent experiences across channels.
  2. Consumer First – Ask the customers what they want.
  3. Transparency – Collaborate across functions, including customer relations and the marketing team, to share customer insights.
  4. Data-Driven Insights – “The right data is better than more data,” says Fisher. All ideas should be meaningful and actionable.
  5. Authenticity – Don’t forget the company’s values and how that shaped the company.

Despite the low customer retention rate, Signature Hardware invested in their post-purchase experience. Why? In short, it makes them money.

Signature Hardware found that customers did not like the number of phone calls they received about package arrival and needed more of a high-touch experience. Using Narvar’s platform, the hardware brand implemented a tracking solution that allows customers to check order status and receive updates online.

Additionally, they added an online return service. All the customer needs is their order number and billing zip code to start the return process. While Signature Hardware initially saw this as a missed opportunity for customer relations to interact with shoppers, in the long-term, it’s a better experience.

Investing in the post-purchase experience is proving to pay off—it generates more word of mouth, allowing Signature Hardware to cut through online and offline advertising noise. “Providing this awesome post-purchase experience doesn’t necessarily generate additional opportunities for that consumer, but their network and their circle will be much more impacted by this awesome, powerful experience,” says Fisher.

Working with Narvar has also allowed Signature Hardware to gather customer data throughout the entire delivery and returns process. They use both reason codes for returns and detailed feedback from customers to inform any enhancements on the ecommerce site or the overall delivery and return processes. 

What’s the next area of improvement in the post-purchase experience? Fisher said that Signature Hardware will focus on narrowing down the delivery time and day for the customer in order to reduce the number of phone calls to customer relations. By reducing the number of calls customer relations receives, they can put their expertise and skills to better use—they know how product details and specifications in addition to where Signature Hardware items work best in the home.

As Signature Hardware and Narvar prove, how, when, and what you communicate to customers have a significant impact on your bottom line. By capturing and analyzing consumer data to improve the entire customer journey, you help serve the next shopper that visits your brand’s site. Remember: Your customers are your biggest advocates. Give them a customer experience that’s worth sharing with their friends, family, and co-workers.

If you’d like to learn more about Blue Acorn iCi’s work with Signature Hardware or need help improving your customer experience, feel free to contact us here.

Shannon Kenneally
After graduating from Clemson, Shannon started her career in marketing, focusing on content creation and engagement. As Blue Acorn iCi’s Media Marketing Specialist, she keeps clients and customers up-to-date on the latest trends and news in the ecommerce world. In her free time, she enjoys running with her dog and checking out the local breweries in Charleston.
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