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Post-purchase dissonance: 7 clever ways to reduce it and boost retention rates
Customer Delight

Post-purchase dissonance: 7 clever ways to reduce it and boost retention rates

Versha Kamwal
July 22, 2022
mins read

In today’s world, it’s not enough to engage with customers if they are experiencing an issue— ecommerce brands need to be proactive.

According to a study, customers tend to feel dissatisfied after making a purchase. As a result, they second-guess their purchase decision, wondering if their choice was correct or not.

Post-purchase dissonance can happen in any industry, for any product, from a T-shirt, jewellery, cosmetics to even a pencil. That’s why you, as an ecommerce brand, must suppress the post-purchase anxiety of customers before it even strikes, as it can quickly turn customers away from your business.

In this blog, you will learn what is post-purchase dissonance, why post-purchase dissonance occurs in customers, why post-purchase dissonance should matter to ecommerce brands, and how to reduce post-purchase dissonance.

What is post-purchase dissonance?

Post-purchase dissonance refers to the level of dissatisfaction a customer experiences after buying a product from an online store. For instance, if customers feel that the quality of a product fails to meet their expectations, they will regret their purchase and may return it.

What leads to post-purchase dissonance among customers?

There are many things that can create a conflict in customers’ minds after buying a product:

  • Customers feel that the product quantity doesn’t meet their expectations
  • Customers get involved in impulsive buying without doing the necessary research
  • Customers find another product with better features or pricing
  • Customers come across a competitor that provides better after-sales service
  • Customers stumble upon a negative review that makes them doubt the credibility of your ecommerce brand

Why post-purchase dissonance should matter to ecommerce brands?

In today’s competitive ecommerce landscape, it’s not enough to satisfy customers till the point of purchase. Ecommerce brands must keep customers happy even after they’ve completed the checkout process. Unfortunately, many brands only focus on acquiring new customers and increasing ecommerce sales, but they neglect the post-purchase experience of their customers. This is where post-purchase dissonance begins, and now ecommerce brands must solve it at the earliest.

Post-purchase dissonance can occur any time— immediately after a purchase, when the order is delivered, within the return window or even after that. As a result, it can increase your return rate, decrease customer satisfaction, reduce your Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV), lead to bad word-of-mouth and negative social media reviews. Thus, it can threaten your ecommerce business in various ways.

If you fail to address it, you will only have one-time customers instead of lifelong customers who make repeated purchases from your brand. The good news is that you can delight your customers by shifting gears and working toward delivering a stellar post-purchase experience. Here’s how a great post-purchase experience can help you:

  • Prevent returns
  • Improve Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) and retention
  • Build strong brand identity with credibility
  • Prevent customer remorse and make them feel good about what they’ve purchased
  • Encourage customers to buy again from your ecommerce brand
  • Differentiate your ecommerce brand from your competitors

How to reduce post-purchase dissonance and increase customer retention?

1. Nail your returns policy

When customers feel dissatisfied with a purchase, the last thing they want is to spend hours to find your return policy. As an ecommerce brand, you want to reduce returns at all costs but hiding your returns policy only leads to a lack of trust and further dissonance. So if you want to reduce post-purchase dissonance, make your return policy more transparent and accessible.

  • You can include links to your returns policy in several hard-to-miss places throughout your website (homepage, product page, and FAQ page).
  • Try to make the returns process as hassle-free as possible as 80% of shoppers would turn their back on a store after a poor returns experience.

However, if you’re selling on a marketplace (Amazon, Flipkart, and more), you have to bear with their returns policy and process.

Charles & Keith has a customer-centric returns policy and it is easy to find on the website
Charles & Keith has a customer-centric returns policy and it is easy to find on the website

2. Engage with customers after the sale

When it comes to reducing post-purchase dissonance, it’s not at all difficult. All you need to do is communicate with your new customers to make them feel that you have not forgotten them and you have their back.

  • Notify your customers what they expect—the order has been received, when it is shipped and when it will arrive.
  • But why stop at shipping details! You can send emails to your customers about upcoming offers, deals, sales, and more.

Levis engages with customers after sale
Levi's engages with customers after sale

3. Provide real-time order tracking

Post-purchase dissonance can arise while a customer is waiting for an order. While you sent an email saying “your order has been shipped” two days ago, sometimes it’s not enough. So why not empower customers with an order tracking page that tells the live status of the order. It can relieve any stress or anxiety customers may face with their orders and help you create a stress-free delivery experience.

Zara provides real-time order tracking
Zara provides real-time order tracking

4. Send all the necessary product information

Ecommerce brands deal with two types of customers—those who conduct in-depth research before purchasing and those who buy on impulse. You must be creating content-rich product pages with multiple HD images to set clear expectations with the customers. But for those who skip through all the content and impulse buy, it’s challenging to reduce dissonance among them. However, you can still offer detailed information about your products after they make a purchase.

  • You can send emails offering content assets like product guides and explanatory videos.
  • You can also send the link to your social media pages, blogs, and other digital properties so that they have an idea of what to expect, how to use the product and what value it will provide.

Marvelous works provides product care instructions
Marvelous works provides product care instructions

5. Create a memorable unboxing experience

Customers are always waiting and eager for their online orders to arrive and this eagerness can quickly turn into regret if you don’t capitalise on the order delivery. Apart from ultra-fast shipping, you can woo your customers with a great unboxing experience.

The unboxing experience is about a lot more than giving customers what they expect that can prevent post-purchase dissonance too.

  • You can create an exceptional unboxing experience with custom packaging instead of choosing that basic brown box.
  • You can opt for eco-friendly packaging options.
  • You can add a personalised touch like a handwritten note, a thank you note or a custom message that can significantly impact customers.
  • You can include a sample of your products or other freebies.

The man company offers a great unboxing experience
The man company offers a great unboxing experience

6. Find out the reason behind the dissonance

Usually, post-purchase dissonance is the result of problems that need to be solved urgently. For an ecommerce business, this is actually an opportunity to identify and address the root cause. If you seek the perspective of your customers and implement some changes, it can build genuine loyalty among your customers.

  • Send across feedback forms and surveys to customers to gain insight.
  • You can also include exciting offers and coupons to incentivise customers.

Adidas asks customers for feedback
Adidas asks customers for feedback

7. Proactively offer exchange recommendations

When your customers are undergoing post-purchase dissonance, you can still make them your loyal customers. You just make them feel that even if they are not satisfied with one product, you have other products in your arsenal that they might like. By doing this, you can showcase that you will assist your customers until they find a product that fits their needs—and that’s the relationship worth holding on to.

  • When your customers are initiating returns, you can turn them into exchanges by giving colour, size, and style recommendations.
  • You can also give customers the option to get their refund in the store wallet to encourage future purchases.

Bottom line

A strong retention strategy can help ecommerce brands to attain long-term success. The first step to building loyalty is to pay attention to the post-purchase experience  of your customers so that you can avoid customer churn. There are endless ways to delight your customers so they don’t regret their purchase and return it. With the ways mentioned above, you can convert bad experiences into a winning part of your overall customer retention strategy.

Connect with our fulfilment expert today.

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