This is part one in a two-part series. You can read part two here.
Running an eCommerce business isn’t easy, especially when today’s digital customer is a moving target.
Yesterday they wanted one thing, today it seems like they want something entirely different. At the heart of it, though, customers have always been looking for the same basic concepts again and again: convenience and savings, both online and off. You can make your eCommerce shop truly competitive by simply giving your customers some simple benefits at every step. Easing fulfillment services issues and returns management troubles, however, can make the biggest waves.
Here are some online shopper-friendly tips to get you started:
Look to flexible fulfillment options. Flexible fulfillment is the newest thing in eCommerce order fulfillment services for companies with both an online and offline presence. Instead of allowing your online store to run out of stock, a simple redistribution of product keeps orders rolling in and prevents customer frustration due to backorders. Backorders are a huge problem for both brick and mortar and eCommerce shops, but flexible fulfillment can help by ensuring that stock is always shifting to where it’s needed most.
Provide more transparent fulfillment options. If recent surveys of online shoppers have shown nothing else, it’s that they all want more transparency in fulfillment and more control over delivery times. Instead of being at your mercy and the mercy of the shipper you choose, customers are willing to pay a little extra to use a shipper that might not be your favorite, especially if that means they can schedule their delivery for a time they’re going to be home. Ship-to-store is also gaining in popularity, if you have a physical location to ship products from your eCommerce shop to. More customer control, even if it costs more to the customer, is the key.
Faster fulfillment. Few retailers can compete with fast as lightning Amazon.com, but according to a survey by UPS, they don’t need to. Customers seem to be happy as long as their orders arrive at their doors within five days if they’ve paid for their own shipping, or seven days if shipping was free. Even so, slow fulfillment on your part can mean a delay in shipping, so you can do a lot to speed up the process on the backend. Increasing visibility of an order’s status by providing a customer web portal can make a huge difference, too.
Easy returns. Returns are a major pain point for customers, so much so that 67 percent now check online retailers’ return policies before making a purchase. Instead of making your returns process a hard one, win hearts and minds by providing simple tools to create an easy to navigate return. Reverse logistics is one place where your response can either win a lifelong customer or lose a customer forever.
Improving the online shopping experience for your customers starts with anticipating their basic needs and removing major obstacles in their way. You don’t have to invest heavily in software or manpower, just think about ways to communicate better and making processes easier. If really you want to do more than just improve a little, stay tuned for part two, where we’re going to discuss ways to truly “wow” those customers.