The Power Of Post-Sale Customer Service

This article originally appeared in Sleep Retailer eNews on March 22, 2018

Two major retail giants are boosting their post-purchase services in the coming months in hopes of fighting back against the growing e-commerce competition. Walmart now offers home installation and furniture assembly from 2,000 of its brick-and-mortar locations — and IKEA has similar plans to expand its in-home furniture assembly offerings in more of its locations throughout the country as well. While the importance of creating a meaningful in-store shopping experience has been discussed at length, the value of post-purchase services is increasing - as these benefits are a major consideration for many consumers. This is good news for retailers who may struggle to see the value of transforming their brick-and-mortar store into an experiential shopping playground. Instead, more traditional sellers can still benefit by enhancing their post-sale benefits - and bringing customer service into people’s homes.

Walmart’s at-home furniture assembly is already offered in 25 Atlanta locations, where shoppers can opt to purchase this service at check-out. The retailer teamed up with home services app Handy to fulfill these requests. For just $59, consumers can schedule an at-home appointment, between 7am and 11pm, with a Handy worker who is backed by the retailer’s “Handy Happiness Guarantee.” Similarly, IKEA offers at-home furniture assembly via TaskRabbit - another on-demand home services app that the retailer purchased back in September. Currently available for online sales in select markets, IKEA has plans to expand this option to more physical locations as well. The price for the service starts at $36 and is based on a flat rate per item type.

These moves are likely part of the retailers’ attempt to combat Amazon and Wayfair, which have both been steadily gobbling up more share of the furniture market in recent years. According to data from eMarketer, online sales of furniture and home furnishings hit $42.6 billion in 2017 - a more than 20% increase from the year prior. As e-commerce sellers can usually beat their traditional retail counterparts on price and ease-of-purchase, many brick-and-mortar stores are looking to create new value around more hands-on amenities. Today’s retailers need to look beyond the products they sell and take care to invest in the services they offer alongside them. According to Euromonitor’s 2017 Retail Trend Report, the post-purchase customer service experience is becoming increasingly important to shoppers—and serves as a valuable opportunity for retailers’ to create a more loyal relationship with their customers.

“To satisfy and retain customers, more products and services come with a type of built-in offer of post-purchase assistance,” the report notes. “This is linked to an emerging definition of convenience going beyond fulfilling customer needs to actually predicting them — including the post transaction period.”

While mattresses do not tend to require as much assembly as other furniture items, there are plenty of ways that bedding retailers can offer more robust post-purchase services:

  • Easy, affordable delivery and drop-shipping
  • At-home adjustable base assembly
  • Old mattress removal and recycling
  • Extended delivery and set-up scheduling hours to better accommodate people’s busy lives

Whether offered as a complimentary benefit or as a strategic add-on purchase, these post-purchase services deliver added convenience to consumers and can even help retailers differentiate themselves from the major ecommerce players. By promoting these offerings, retailers are communicating a higher level of care for their customers - proof that they are really making an effort to make their buying process easier and more enjoyable, from start to finish.

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