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Guaranteeing a great customer experience despite growing demand

By Ben Kaye, E-commerce and OMS expert at Mintsoft

Peak season is officially upon us thanks to it looking to be bigger, longer and earlier than ever. There is no room for error this year as preparation and organisation is expected from consumers as it’s the second ‘digital’ Black Friday. This means inaccurate orders, poor delivery services or anything else affecting customer experience won’t be tolerated – choice for consumers at the moment is relentless and brand loyalty is a thing of the past. Online shoppers now choose convenience over brand loyalty, meaning how orders are picked and packaged, delivery costs and timings, and ease of returns are pivotal to offering a good service to your customers. Something as small as a missing item or poor lack of delivery choices is enough to lose a loyal customer – or even a sale.

28% of people will buy more online this holiday season, and pairing this rise in demand with current supply chain issues and driver shortages, it’s set to be a challenging period for online retailers.  As an online retailer, how can you make sure you’re prepared to offer a great customer experience and retain customer loyalty?

Consider a drop shipping approach

With the levels of online shopping continuing to increase, E-commerce businesses are feeling the effect of the rising demand for order fulfilment. Single retailers are now looking for multiple routes to market and a robust logistics strategy to support it in order to keep up with demand.

In fact, 22% to 33% of internet retailers have adopted drop shipping as their primary method of order fulfillment to enhance their existing strategy. Dropshipping is a popular business model as it is low-risk, guarantees profits and puts you between the supplier and the customer. By automating the supplier purchase order process, you can ensure timely – and accurate – delivery of your orders

When you focus on bringing in sales from multiple platforms without holding stock, there’s the promise of only selling what people want and reducing some traditional business concerns over delivery, maintaining a physical place of business, over purchasing and storage issues. Drop shipping could also be a great solution to the current supply chain problems that are going on as by relying on a third party company to ship your stock, you remove the headache of having to source stock yourself.

Partner with a tech-led 3PL or warehouse

Many 3PL and warehouse businesses have evolved their offerings by transitioning into tech first entities. Partnering with a 3PL which has invested in technology means you can deliver a more responsive and consistent service, and is a method which is growing popular amongst online retailers as outsourcing logistic processes by partnering with a 3PL helps with order fulfillment by eliminating strains often caused by fulfilment and logistics.

A good question to ask yourself if you already use a 3PL is whether they have invested in technology to provide automated processes as this can have many benefits for online retailers – including enhanced customer experience. According to Retail Insight Network, 78% of consumers say they value convenience more today than they did before the pandemic, so offering a great customer experience is pivotal to surviving this year’s peak season and beyond. It’s an opportunity to reach a new customer base and create long lasting relationships.

In addition to helping with fulfilment, 3PLs can also take care of time-consuming processes such as reporting, delivery updates and billing and accounting tasks,

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Gain control of your inventory

In order to survive peak season, you must ensure you have a handle on your inventory. Overselling items causes headaches for online retailers and customers alike, but luckily this is easily avoidable. By proactively controlling and managing your stock, you can prepare yourself for peaks – both expected and unexpected.

By using an order management system (OMS), you can set up automated reports to be  sent every day, week or month, which can be teamed with critical alert notifications for out of stock, low stock, and general stock movements. This is pivotal to making sure you’ll never oversell or run out of stock again. You can also integrate your inventory systems with your online marketplaces, keeping them up-to-date at all times, meaning every aspect of your E-commerce business can work in harmony.

Getting a handle on the data behind your inventory saves you time and money later down the line as it gives you the ability to anticipate peaks and gain a better understanding of lead times from suppliers. It’s just as important to avoid ‘stock outs’ and back orders in addition to avoiding overselling,  because it’s reported that 70% of shoppers will head over to a competitor’s E-commerce store if they can’t get what they’re looking for.

Explore a multi-courier strategy

Customer experience continues to be the main differentiator for the top E-commerce brands, and where delivery is concerned, this means choice and transparency. Recent reports have shown that consumers don’t necessarily want the quickest delivery option possible anymore, but the choice of a specific day and time slot. This is forcing online retailers to implement a more varied and robust delivery strategy.

In order to offer multiple delivery choices to meet your customer’s needs – whether it be the cheapest option, fastest option or a dedicated day delivery – you should look into establishing a multi-courier strategy. A strategy which integrates multiple courier companies helps to boost up your business by getting more competitive rates and the ability to offer superior customer experience. Again, this approach is made easy if you have an order management system, as you can connect and integrate with couriers, and easily select the best delivery option for your customer. Today, customers expect to be informed every step of the way across the buying journey which means things like regular email updates, tracking information, and delivery status alerts – this can all be done from a dedicated OMS.

More importantly, having access to multiple couriers, rather than relying on a single company, means you’ll always have a backup plan – making it easier to keep operations ongoing even in such demanding times.

When you consider that the point of delivery can often be the only face-to-face interaction customers will have with your brand, fulfilment and shipping both play a major role in the customer journey,. Therefore, speed of delivery and the accuracy of orders is pivotal to creating long lasting relationships with your customers and gaining loyalty over your competitors.

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