Retailers know how important the customer experience is – and this can’t be forgotten around the busiest shopping period of the year. In fact, in 2018 UK shoppers spent £4.75 billion in Boxing Day sales and £1.4 billion on the last Saturday before Christmas, known as ‘Super Saturday.’ With research showing that improving the customer experience and investing in new ways to engage customers is critical to the ongoing success of retailers, the retailers who are able to create a seamless, convenient experience for customers will have the upper hand. To do this effectively, they’ll need to bring together physical and digital while offering an amazing product selection that’s readily available and can be delivered fast.
1. Embrace the Physical and Digital for More Consumer Convenience
With the adoption of cloud-based software and smart mobile devices, retailers’ ability to connect their physical and digital presence has become significantly easier, as shown by the rise of click and collect and more return options. Every consumer has a different purchasing pattern – which is largely driven by convenience – meaning that retailers need to focus on having the right products in the right places.
Because convenience plays a large role in customer satisfaction, retailers need to take action. According to a recent survey, 68 per cent of consumers said they preferred click and collect when making purchases. When consumers elect to pick up their purchases in-store, retailers are not only able to reduce their shipping costs, but also to sell even more product, as 85 per cent of these consumers tend to make additional purchases once they come in-store to retrieve their orders – something that could easily feed into holiday sale buzz.
2. Put an End to Cancelled and Out of Stock Messages
“Right time, right place” in today’s consumer speak actually means “right here, right now,” – something that is only becoming more ingrained in retailers’ strategies. It’s not uncommon for consumers to have experienced the frustration of hopping online to purchase the perfect gift and getting hit with the “out of stock” message – a challenge that typically ends in an abandoned cart and searching for the product elsewhere.
Retailers stand to miss out on nearly $1 trillion in sales because they don’t have what customers want to buy. And while this problem stirs agitation and causes stress for consumers, it is something that retailers can easily avoid with the right approach. By tapping into virtual inventory enabled through drop shipping and executing on proper resource planning and logistics execution, retailers could potentially have no sell outs at all, enabling them to keep customers happy and maintain their brand promise. And some retailers are already recognising the potential, with research from CommerceHub showing that 46 per cent of retailers value the fast shipping and delivery of drop shipping and over a third acknowledging the better customer experience drop shipping will bring.
3. Meet and Exceed Delivery Expectations
A final key to success as we enter the UK’s busiest shopping period will be perfecting shipping and delivery. Gone are the days when getting packages a week or longer after an order is placed is acceptable. New and improving technology is giving retailers the ability to strategically expand product ranges, fulfil orders faster than ever before and track deliveries to better meet customer needs and expectations. By implementing these advanced back-end processes, communications between retailers and fulfilment/shipping centres have never been more seamless.
Technology is also giving retailers more visibility into fulfilment processes, which is enabling them to create routine efficiencies and capture data to drive their businesses forward year after year. What’s more, these insights can help drive real-time decision making, allowing retailers to keep consumers aware of the status of their orders and stay ahead of delays in ways that couldn’t be managed before, which supports retailers’ growing need to stay ahead of customer expectations.
Retailers need to ensure that the customer, and their satisfaction, is at the core of every strategy – especially in the coming months when the sales potential is so high. Whether it is a newly implemented or enhanced approach, a retailer’s ability to carry out a seamless crossover between physical and digital retail, minimise out-of-stock cancels and meet and exceed delivery expectations is essential to their success. And with this success comes happy customers, who in turn, will only be coming back for more.
By Philip Hall, MD Europe, CommerceHub