As the eCommerce sector continues to show extraordinary growth in the post-pandemic phase, online shoppers are demanding instant gratification in the form of “free” or “same day” shipping. Supply chains (or logistics) are now an integral part of ensuring customer satisfaction in 2021.
Going by the latest eCommerce statistics, 44% of online consumers didn’t order a product because of high delivery time, while 30% ordered simply for same-day deliveries. At the same time, eCommerce companies in the U.S. continue to face challenges on the supply side in 2021, as it was during the 2020 pandemic (or, if we’re being completely honest, even worse).
Greg Davidson of the baby accessory brand, Lalo, talks about supply chain delivery delays as “a little bit more like losing control, which I think can be hard for any founder.” In the face of supply chain-related challenges, eCommerce brands need to prepare themselves for the massive spike in online shipments on Cyber Monday and the 2021 Holiday season in the U.S. market.
What effective steps can online retailers take to overcome customer dissatisfaction caused due to delivery delays during the holiday season? Let us look at a few:
1. Improve customer communication.
In these challenging times, it is always advisable for eCommerce retailers to maintain consistent communication with their customers. Loyal customers are more likely to understand the business predicament when companies are upfront and transparent about any shipment delays and the reasons behind them.
Kristiana Lopienski of ShipBob recommends that businesses that have “low stocks, limited purchase amounts, or have modified shipping speeds, must share that on their website or over email early and often.” Further, communication should not be restricted only to customers. Ensure proactive communication with other supply chain stakeholders including suppliers, logistics companies, distribution partners, and onsite workers.
To this end, the skills of the growth marketing group can be tapped to “personalize” the message for each consumer and zone into the communication channel that is most effective for them.
2. Build transparency into customer order status.
Most customer support centers in eCommerce companies are flooded with consumers asking the same question, “where is my order?” Online shoppers want real-time visibility into their placed orders along with functionalities like live package tracking, timely notifications, and delivery status.
Here are some revealing statistics:
- 80% of online shoppers want the ability to track their orders online, and on their mobile devices.
- 76% of shoppers want regular SMS communication across the entire shipping and delivery process.
A Distributed Order Management system can be deployed by online retailers to address any gaps in their supply chain operation and improve visibility. Automated warehouse management solutions are enabling businesses to track their supply process and improve their operational visibility. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine learning (ML) algorithms also help in identifying major gaps and problems in the supply chain. With this infrastructure in place, customers can also get more transparent visibility into the status of their orders.
3. Invest in digital platforms.
eCommerce companies with digital capabilities and real-time data access and analytics will be in a better position to respond to supply chain disruptions like COVID-19. On their part, eCommerce retail companies must look to partner with technology-enabled logistics firms that can support and recommend solutions during supply chain disruptions.
An example of this is Easyship, which is providing global logistics support enabled by its user-friendly digital platform. This technology platform allows retailers to display the delivery lead time (along with applicable taxes and customs duties) during customer checkout.
Further, eCommerce retails must look to invest in cloud-enabled platforms to scale up their customer experience and to meet their growing expectations. For improved inventory control, eCommerce firms can automate their supply chains using inventory management platforms.
4. Optimize last-mile deliveries.
Supply chain disruptions are creating challenges in last-mile fulfillment for eCommerce retailers. Recent research shows that last-mile delivery costs can comprise up to 53% of the total shipping costs, and 41% of the supply chain expenses.
The PwC report on the “Future of Customer Experience” concludes that 73% of American consumers consider their last-mile experience as a factor in their purchasing decision.
To improve last-mile efficiency, eCommerce companies need to optimize operations using capabilities like store-based fulfillment and third-party logistics. Omnichannel retailers with physical outlets can look to fulfill eCommerce orders from a local (or regional) store (close to the buyer) instead of a fulfillment center (that are miles away from the buyer).
Finally, an efficient Distributed Order Management solution can add business value by providing real-time visibility into last-mile deliveries.
5. Set realistic customer expectations.
- Provide multiple options for product deliveries at minimum cost.
- Deliver their orders on time every time.
- Streamline product returns in a hassle-free mode.
As customer expectations continue to evolve in the eCommerce space, retail brands need a greater focus on customer needs and expectations.
Through backend integration, a unified commerce platform can deliver a unified data model. With this technology platform, eCommerce retailers can manage supply chain logistics and gain valuable customer insights. This in turn can deliver the functionalities needed to fulfill changing customer expectations.
In the wake of supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic, eCommerce companies must be cognizant of how this can impact their customer satisfaction levels. On their part, eCommerce brands and business leaders must look to reshape their supply chains to overcome the ongoing crisis and make their operations resilient to future disruptions.
As a technology company, Ignitiv has empowered small and large eCommerce brands to overcome multiple pain points and achieve the next level of shopping experience for online consumers. The company offers a range of services in growth marketing, solution delivery, and analytics.
Know more about how to manage customer expectations in a changing market? Get in touch with us today.