With the rise in eCommerce shopping, and COVID-19 only accelerating that trend, many consumers are increasingly frustrated with the uncertainty and reliability of traditional shipping and delivery methods. As many retailers are working to maintain brand loyalty, it’s necessary to ensure consumer satisfaction from the moment they hit the buy button all the way to when they receive their product. The developing digital buying and post-buy experience requires attention to not only consumer retention when browsing online, but also attention to what comes next. Retailers have the potential to transform their growth strategy by attracting consumers through advanced product tracking systems, increased delivery options, and seamless return processes.
Post-buy Experience: Maintain Transparency through Advanced Tracking Systems and Notifications
Many consumers have had experiences where they only receive a timeframe for delivery, perhaps 5 – 10 business days, and then they do not have any other information until they receive the product at their doorstep. With increasing strain on shipping and logistics providers, this is a common occurrence often outside of the control of retailers. The shipment and post-buy experience is a factor that consumers prioritize when considering whether to re-purchase directly in a store for more reliability. The ability to track deliveries and shipments is becoming more essential to the shifting eCommerce landscape. The hierarchy of parcels plays a large role in the delivery wait times. Large companies like Amazon are given priority, while smaller businesses that rely on USPS are left behind. FedEx and UPS both rely on steady flow at USPS to operate efficiently. The new disruptions to their network have even further slowed all carriers. Shippers are now making the transition to using regional carriers, though this may not be as easy as it seems for small businesses.
Retailers can get ahead of shipping and carrier challenges by being up-front and as transparent as possible with consumers even before they purchase products. Consider including clear assets across your site that communicate the possibility of shipping delays so that consumers are aware and can make an informed decision to purchase online. Once the consumer makes a purchase, be sure to offer real-time visibility into order tracking through direct integrations to your logistics or carriers. By doing everything possible to clearly communicate potential delays and focus on meeting consumer needs, retailers will contribute positively to their consumer experience.
Expand Delivery and Offer Alternative Payment Options
Metapack’s fourth annual Global eCommerce Consumer Report includes that at least 50% of the US shoppers have a strong preference for retailers that provide various delivery options. This includes pickup points, ship from store, and more. The key is to enable convenience and allow consumers to have what they want, when and where they want it.
Offer In Store Pick Up: The process of accepting, picking and packing for online orders requires an integrated inventory and commerce solution along with significant store associate process changes. The first step in creating an efficient process is having technology to pick and pack. It is no secret that constant flow of in store consumers disrupts the inventory system, consequently making it inaccurate at any point in time. This process also requires significant space, where many retailers are not used to warehousing items. Fulfillment for eCommerce requires three times the warehousing space than common brick-and-mortar store inventory. Despite the hassle, this complex process is well worth the results of cheaper and faster deliveries; Target noted a 30% reduction in cost per order for in the second quarter.
Strategize Fulfillment: Some helpful tips for efficiency in order fulfillment are to tailor online inventory rules and focus on staff training. Omnichannel inventory management can better equip companies to face the influx of eCommerce shoppers. It is very possible that inventory will run out quickly, therefore proactive efforts to combat it can mitigate possible impact on sales. Creating a plan for inventory restocking and synchronization will pay off amid high shopper traffic. Retaining and training warehouse employees is crucial when to approach rising consumer demand with agility.
Expand Alternative Payment Options: Alternative payment methods are becoming an important aspect of the frictionless eCommerce and post-buy experience; even in 2018, nearly 50% of costumers reported cancelling an order if their preferred payment method was unavailable. Whether digital wallets or payment installments, retailers should continue to stretch the options consumers have to ultimately increase retention and likelihood of repeat purchases. Aside from offering new payment methods, it is equally if not more important to focus on payment security. As society has experienced a global shift to digital operations, the opportunities for cyberattacks heighten. This requires proactive measures from retailers and payment service providers to keep data secure. Be sure to work with your payment providers to manage a secure and robust fraud management system to protect your commerce business from fraudulent ordering.
To Return or Not to Return?
Typically, shoppers will look at a retailer’s return policy before making a purchase. The trend of buying more items and increasing cart sizes with a plan of returning is on the rise, as many people have ditched their old habits of in-store shopping. Basket abandonment is a rising trend, and retailers must make proactive efforts to combat it.
Three Trends in returns, and what they mean for retailers:
- Consumers buy many of the same item, planning to return
Solution: Invest in sizing and product descriptions, including virtual reality technologies to allow consumers to be confident in the few items and sizes selected.
- Consumers want to simplify the return process
Solution: Retailers can simplify returns processes, too. Consider adding a return label in the box as an added convenience. The faster the return, the faster retailers can resell inventory.
- Consumers buy more if returns are made easier
Solution: Consumers will be more likely to shop with retailers who have excellent outreach. Staying in touch with these consumers and listening to their feedback from during the post-buy experience increases the likelihood of future purchases.
Where’s My Package?
Answering this question may be the key to consumer retention and satisfaction during this new era of eCommerce. Updating tracking systems, capitalizing on multichannel delivery and payment, and making the return process seamless can keep your businesses foot traffic steady, whether retailers are traditionally a brick-and-mortar business turned digital or a digitally native business focusing on continued growth.
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Contributions by Alexandra Hatsios.