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For most retailers the moment a customer makes a purchase is the time to relax and reflect on a job well done, however this is potentially missing one last opportunity for promoting repeat purchases and social sharing.

A new report from Owned It looks at the steps brands are taking to optimise their order confirmation pages, with Amazon and M&S apparently making the most of the opportunity to encourage further sales and engagement.

But what are these retailers doing right and what steps can businesses take to optimise their order confirmation pages?

Amazon achieved a high score thanks to its social sharing buttons, a discount voucher incentivising a repeat purchase, and the brevity of its confirmation page.

Similarly, House of Fraser packed its order confirmation page with offers to incentivise repeat buys, with money off, reward points and encouragement to follow on social networks.

Overall more than half of the retailers surveyed had social media buttons on the order confirmation page, though the authors suggested that only 13% of them displayed the buttons prominently.

Similarly, 7% of retailers offered money off or cash back vouchers, ranging from £10 cash back to 15% off future purchases; while other incentives included free business cards and 30% for new customers shopping in-store.

Here’s a look at the four criteria that retailers should consider including on order confirmation pages...

Immediate and longer term incentives

Offering customers a discount is likely to yield a quick-win in terms of encouraging another purchase, but there’s also the danger that offering too many incentives will damage your brand.

The report evaluated the use of two different types of customer incentives:

  • Immediate incentives, such as money off next purchase.
  • Longer term incentives, such as a newsletter sign up to gain an offer at a later date.

Almost a third of retailers (30%) offered immediate incentives, with 20% offering a chance to gain a discount. 

For example, Argos offered £10 cash back on future purchases and £100 off Dyson vacuum cleaners, while Homebase offered a time-limited 15% discount on all shopping at its stores.

Other incentives were linked to the purchase of another product, such as an offer from Marks & Spencer for £100 in gift vouchers on sign up to its bank.

According to Owned It, offers tied to a particular action tend to achieve a higher redemption rate than simply giving away a discount. For example, one of Owned It’s clients achieved a referral rate of 35% when it offered a discount in return for customers shouting about their purchase on social media.

Similarly, immediate offers are a better way to cross-sell related products. In some instances non-monetary incentives such as free shipping are more enticing compared to the monetary benefits.

Looking at longer term incentives, these include what most people would consider to be less attractive offers such as the ability to sign up to a newsletter for information on the latest promotions and news.

Just 17% of retailers offered this incentive, compared to 53% who included social media buttons. ASOS took the opportunity to promote its competitions, as well as including a prominent ‘Continue Shopping’ CTA.

Opportunity to refer purchases/products

Social proof and word-of-mouth are useful sales drivers online, with research showing that up to 74% of consumers rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions.

In truth the actual figure is likely to be lower than this, but it’s still a good indicator of the impact that social has on conversion rates.

Therefore it’s a good idea to try and capitalise on the immediate post-purchase excitement to gain a social referral.

Both Amazon and Maplin provided the ability to share product details with customers' social circles. Amazon made social referrals a prominent feature of its order confirmation page by positioning the sharing buttons at the top right, while Maplin encouraged purchasers to share via Facebook only.

ASOS recently launched a similar campaign using Vine that encourages customers to post a video of themselves unboxing their order using the hashtag #ASOSUnbox.

Presence of social media buttons

Though it makes no major difference in real terms, brands still like to have more fans and followers than their competitors, and the order confirmation page presents a decent opportunity to build your online communities.

The report shows that Facebook and Twitter were the most popular social media channels, while 20% pointed their customers towards Pinterest and only 17% asked their customers to follow a blog.

But while most of the retailers placed social buttons in the top right of the page, only 3% actually asked users to take a specific action, such as ‘Like us on Facebook.”

Order confirmation page length

All order confirmations are a page long, but the report suggests that it’s a good idea to also try and keep all the important information above the fold.

The reasoning is that since the customer has completed the transaction they are likely to want to move onto other activity quickly.

More than half (53%) of the retailers managed to keep all the information on one screen, including Amazon, New Look, Littlewoods and Maplin.

David Moth

Published 4 June, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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