With Australian consumers predicted to spend more than $48.1 billion this Christmas, it’s crucial that all retailers ensure customer orders are fulfilled efficiently and customer loyalty is sustained.
As the volume of online shopping transactions increase during this silly season, so does the potential for problems to occur. Consumers today demand a flawless online shopping experience, leading them to be increasingly intolerant of poor service and delivery.
During peak shopping periods, successful online and multichannel retailers will have smart strategies in place to alleviate customer fulfilment challenges, in the face of today’s heightened consumer expectations, according to Patrick Viney, head of retail industry strategy at JDA Australia.
Below are Viney’s five top tips for online and multichannel retailers to take on board during this Christmas period, that addresses potential issues with customer fulfilment issues.
1. Customer Intolerance and Growing Expectations
As online shopping in Australia begins to mature, customers are seeking multiple touch points with retailers and brand owners and are seeking more than just an online shopping experience. As a result, pureplay online retailers are looking for new ways to engage the customer.
SMEs in particular, need to provide a seamless shopping journey that connects their physical and digital channels. Inventory visibility and the ability to execute on the fulfilment methods offered are essential in meeting customer expectations. Having a supply chain that is flexible enough to cater to those expectations can be key to ensuring a profitable outcome for the retailer.
New store formats are also including digital inside their stores through the use of interactive mirrors, beacons and self-service kiosks for online orders. The seamless interaction between physical and digital provides customers with a brand experience that creates return visits.
2. Solving problems with online orders
With online retailers continuing to mature, customers are demanding a flawless online shopping experience, leading to them growing increasingly tolerant of poor service.
From a supply chain perspective, having accurate and timely forecasts incorporating all sales channels is critical for ensuring placement of inventory at the right locations. Knowing what the proportion of demand is from your online and/or bricks and mortar stores is vital. You need to know where the demand will need to be fulfilled, that is, in-store or home delivery and the weight of each.
3. Click and Collect
Australians have been embracing click and collect with more retailers now offering this service to their customers. Frustration often occurs in the lead up to Christmas when packages are not delivered on time.
Retailers need to ensure their workforce is aligned to handle click and collect customers. Inventory visibility is a critical factor in ensuring the right decisions are made with regards to inventory movements. Visibility is also important to share with customers when placing orders online.
4. Issue resolution
As multichannel retailers improve their online offerings and their fulfilment methods, so too are customers’ expectations increasing and involving. There is much less tolerance for issues with orders. Consumers today expect the retailer to be responsible for resolving delivery problems. Successful retailers will be those that can ensure that when a delivery problem arises, they have real-time visibility to where the order is, and maintain positive engagement with their customer until the issue is resolved.
Multichannel retailers must ensure that the customer can engage with their company via any channel, that is in-acrossr accross multiple devices, and receive the same brand experience across all channels. This means ensuring consistency of pricing and promotions, having visibility of inventory across the channels and ensuring that when they are online or in-store, the right (and consistent) associates are in place to engage and enhance the customer experience.
Returning items is an area of concern for most retailers. To assist retailers overcome the heavy cost of return, retailers need to start adopting a more segmented approach to dealing with the different behaviours customers have around returns.
It might seem an obvious point, but product information is absolutely vital online and more effort needs to be put into how items are described. This could generate significant cost savings to retailers and deliver a better online shopping experience to customers, whilst alleviating the cost of returns to your business.