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Consumers are increasingly expecting more and more from retailers, particularly from the delivery stage of the ecommerce experience. Millennials especially are looking for the ‘right here, right now’ and continue to drive and shape the future of retail.
Our recent research – The Tipping Point: Parcel Delivery – clearly demonstrates this generations’ expectation for commerce without compromise and their inherent need to be able to order all kinds of goods and have these orders available to them when they want.
The rapid evolution of the ecommerce industry has meant that whilst some retailers understand the value of an integrated and unified approach to customer experience, both at the front end of the ecommerce experience and the back end retail logistics, many are struggling to keep up. Different systems utilised throughout their operations are not always integrated, which can lead to unnecessary manual data duplication and opening them up to the risk of human error. As a result their operations may not be managed as intelligently as they would like them to be.
In ecommerce, retailers are always looking to turn our buyers into repeat buyers. The pre-eminent goal is to create a seamless and contextual shopping experiences effortlessly across all channels. The first order someone places with you is about testing you out. Customers want to see if they can trust you – so you really must leave a lasting impression with the first online order.
That means you have to deliver on your promise, or risk damaging your brand. The goods must be picked, packed, despatched and delivered as quick as possible and that’s just the minimum requirement. If things go wrong you need to be proactive and fast at resolving the issue, helping to build and maintain trust. If you really want to get the next order you may need to do a bit more. Put a clear call to action into that parcel to ask for the next order, try and wow the customer and keep them coming back.
The ultimate goal is to create a well-oiled, end-to-end ecommerce offering, one that elevates the brand, controls and monitors customer journeys, while managing data at every point in the buying process. In fact, what you’re looking to achieve is a digital retail ecosystem that accurately mirrors the analogue retail world and also goes that step further.
Our research – ‘Are you delivering what your customers want’, looked into how retailers are responding to the growing delivery demands of the ecommerce consumer and it shows that for retailers there is a fundamental need for collaboration to improve the customer experience. In the research 42% of the respondents, would work with numerous partners to best meet consumer expectations.
Click and collect is an example of an area that is primed for collaboration and which can play an important role in improving the customer experience. Click and collect also offers a huge opportunity for retailers and their delivery partners to work more closely together to improve the customer experience, especially since it can drive additional spend instore.
Collaboration in this area in particular can help deliver a quicker and more seamless buying experience for consumers, many of whom are now often time poor due to busy lives. Happier customers increases loyalty and spending, which will benefit partners, so click and collect has the potential to provide benefits for retailers, partners and customers.
Whichever delivery channel retailers choose to develop – and there were many identified by the retailers in our survey – working together for the same cause is key. Being open and sharing information, best practice and what has been achieved has been a key part of the huge innovations the market has seen in recent years. If retailers want to continue to meet and beat customer expectations this is a trend that has to continue.
With all this in mind what are the main things to keep front of mind?
- Ensure a partnership approach
- Confirm that you are offering what the customer actually wants
- Work with suppliers across the board and aim for transparency and flexibility
- Don’t overpromise – be honest
- Embrace the power of click and collect to drive revenue for both online and offline channels
- Test and innovate when it comes to delivery services
I believe that with consumer expectations only going in one direction – towards creating more demands on the delivery aspect of the retail experience – it is vital for companies to have effective and beneficial partnerships in place. This more often than not will require working with numerous partners. Offering distinctive, fit for purpose delivery services is vital to win customers’ hearts, minds and purses, but it does require a close partnership approach.
[Source: Matthew Robertson, Co-CEO of NetDespatch]