AfterShip makes the post-purchase a customer connection point

The software company provides solutions for shipment tracking, returns and more.

Photo by Brandable Box on Unsplash

A sale isn’t completed until an item gets to a customer’s door. After all, a lot can happen in the miles a product travels in between. And even after it arrives, there are reviews, returns and hopefully the next purchase for a brand or retailer to consider.

It all means that, when it comes to building trust with customers, the post-purchase experience is just as important as what happens before a customer clicks “Buy.”

That post-purchase experience is the base from which AfterShip has been building solutions for more than a decade. The company currently works with more than 14,000 merchants, including brands like Harrys, TOMs, GoPro, and Kylie Cosmetics.

AfterShip started by helping brands and retailers gain visibility and efficiency on the path between the distribution point and the carrier. Founded in 2012, the company launched with a shipment tracking API solution. At this point, it was involved in label generation and creating tools that allowed retailers to onboard multiple carriers from a single interface. Alongside a predicted delivery date API, this offering remains a core focus today. With integrations with more than 1,030 carriers, it is used by platforms such as Amazon, Etsy, eBay and Google.

Today, AfterShip has 440 employees across seven offices, including a U.S. headquarters in Austin.

More recently, AfterShip has built out solutions that allow merchants to add visibility and new capabilities to the post-purchase experience for their customers. These include automated shipment notifications, logistics visibility dashboards, branded tracking pages and automated returns.

These features are designed to provide the latest information on where a package is, and when it will arrive. For instance, AfterShip customers can provide SMS notifications if a package is delayed. Such tools also serve as an additional touchpoint for customers. A branded tracking page can include item listings, bringing the potential for a check-in on an already-purchased item to result in another sale.

It all points toward allowing any merchant to deliver an “Amazon-like” experience, Joe Wyatt, head of digital solutions at AfterShip told The Current from the floor of the NRF Big Show 2023.

“We break down the barriers for any merchant to do that, from the smallest to the largest,” Wyatt said.

Looking ahead, Wyatt sees returns becoming a much more important focus. The combination of ecommerce growth and generous policies is leading returns to come in at unprecedented levels.

On one hand, returns are necessary at this point. Studies show that 60% of customers read return policies before shopping. On the other hand, sending already-purchased items back is leading to challenges in the supply chain. Those generous policies have led to a whole new set of behaviors that can generate waste. In one, called bracketing, consumers buy the same item in a number of sizes and colors, then keep only the one they like.

Given this dynamic, merchants are looking to create more return options to serve customers and cut down on logistics costs.

This is ushering in a new wave of solutions, such as return bars where items can be quickly dropped off in-person, or post-purchase options that rout consumers toward exchanges. AfterShip launched a new suite, called Returns Center, that allows brands and retailers to implement these capabilities.

It's a sign of how the company continues to build after a decade. As the post-purchase continues to gain importance, AfterShip aims to add tools to help brands and retailers deliver for customers.

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