What makes customers buy again? (Spoiler: it’s not discounts or coupons)

Nov 7, 2018 | E-commerce and E-retailing

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday fast approaching, how can retailers turn one-off shoppers into loyal customers? New research shows four key ingredients needed to build trust and loyalty during the busiest shopping period of the year.

With 86% of consumers agreeing that the post-purchase experience they receive is fundamental to their brand loyalty, customer experience platform Narvar unpicks the four “C’s” which make up the Post-Purchase Hierarchy of Needs.

The research uncovers how consumers’ experiences after they hit the buy button impacts on their desire to buy again from a retailer or brand. These findings now form the Post-Purchase Hierarchy of Needs – a guide for advising retailers on the key post-purchases moments that should be in place to provide experiences that retain, engage and delight their customers. The guide also highlights, critically, the order in which these moments should be implemented in order to deliver true brand loyalty.

Anthony Gavin, EMEA Director, Narvar, comments: “The retail industry today is fiercely competitive, and brand-loyalty is important. It’s not enough to just acquire new customers, you’ve got to keep them coming back too. 86% of consumers agree that the post-purchase experience they receive is fundamental to their decision to buy again. This shows us that these experiences beyond the buy button are rapidly becoming the new battlefront for differentiation upon which retail profits hang. For the first time, the “Post-Purchase Hierarchy of Needs” illustrates which key ingredients make up a perfect post-sale experience. This will help brands to deliver their recipes for building brand loyalty.”

The Post-Purchase Hierarchy of Needs

The four broad categories of the Hierarchy of Needs is divided into the four C’s of Consumer Needs: Communication, Choice, Control and Connection. While all are important, consumers show a preference towards retailers and brands that have tackled Communication moments first and foremost, followed by Choice, then Control and finally, Connection. The most fundamental touchpoints at the bottom of the pyramid (Communication) must be taken care of before real value – or profits – will be seen from actioning those at the top (Connection).

So what are the ingredients of a “good post-purchase experience” for consumers?


Experiences beyond the buy button are fundamental to building brand loyalty. Treating customers with care and consideration in the post-purchase cycle makes the difference between retaining a customer and potentially losing them to a competitor.

  • 81% agree that receiving proactive updates on the progress of an order, rather than having to phone or email for updates, is critical in their decision to repeat purchase
  • For 80%, being proactively updated about delivery schedules, including information on delays, made them more likely to repeat purchase


The importance of choice and flexibility around delivery featured heavily in building brand-loyal customers:

  • 80% agree that they were more likely to be loyal to brands and retailers which offered a range of convenient and flexible delivery options
  • Following this, 74% agree that online retailers and brands that provide estimated delivery dates/times on a pre-purchase page was an important factor that contributes to the likelihood of them making a repeat-purchase. Having this in place allows customers to choose a convenient shipping method that fits with their schedule with more certainty


Providing consumers with the ability to control their post-purchase experiences is a key building block for establishing loyalty:

  • 60% of consumers are more likely to repeat purchase when they have the ability to choose their preferred channel of communication (e.g. email, SMS, bot, voice etc)
  • Equally, 60% of consumers value brands and retailers which continue to communicate directly with them even after they’ve bought something, and don’t send them off to a carrier company website for delivery tracking and updates

There is a clear opportunity here for brands to own and recapture more post purchase moments. Taking back control of post-purchase communications allows brands to interact more with their customers at the precise time they are at the height of anticipation and engagement – or that “honeymoon moment” right after the sale. This often contributes directly to a faster time to next purchase. In some cases customers have even been compelled to buy again before their initial purchase had even been delivered.


Connecting with a brand emotionally stands at the apex of the Post-Purchase Hierarchy of Needs. Once the fundamental Communication, Choice and Control needs have been taken care of, brands and retailers must then make an emotional connection with their customers. Communicating values authentically and consistently at every touch point – including after a sale has been made – will help build brand loyalty and differentiate from the competition. Customers want to be treated as “not just another order number”. Having this kind of experience can be more important for retaining customers than discounts and coupons.

  • Thoughtful and personal experiences are more important than discounts and coupons for 53% of consumers
  • 50% of consumers are more likely to buy again when they agree with a brands values. This shows the importance of communicating brand values authentically and consistently

Ash Rama, Global Head of Training at Trustpilot said: “We process over half a million UK consumer reviews each month, so we see first-hand the impact that the post-purchase experience has on building a loyal customer base. We found that reviews generally fell into six key topic areas: Product, Price, Promoters, Delivery, Refund and Customer Service. Four out of these six areas reflect the post-purchase part of a customer’s shopping experience. We’ve found that more than 74.4% of all one-star reviews reference a poor post-purchase experience, with customer service, delivery, refunds or communications on the status of orders among the most commonly referenced. This shows clearly that providing excellent experiences beyond the buy button is fundamental to building brand-loyal customers and maximising their lifetime value to the business.”

About this research

The survey of 2000 UK consumers was conducted independently in partnership with Walnut Research.

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