With an increasing number of shoppers reaching for tablets, smartphones, and laptops, the market for ecommerce, due to the simplicity it should offer continues to expand.
From click to delivery, the e-fulfilment process from the perspective of the customer, should at all times be completely seamless, transparent, reliable and communicative. Successful giants such as Amazon prove that integrating a considered e-fulfilment strategy is beneficial time and time again; so how can other retailers follow the path, to make the most of the digital market and ensure increased online success?
Split into a few key points, the path to successful e-fulfilment depends on:
- Communication – Keeping the customer notified at every stage
- Competency – How well the service is provided
- Capability – A retailers’ ability to action e-fulfilment processes
- Good market insight – To anticipate and cope with demand
- Reliability – In order to maintain customer trust, good reputation and build relationships
Though all are vital and integral to process, arguably the most pivotal point to adhere to – the one that links all other aspects and stages of e-fulfilment, from click to delivery – is communication.
Communication is key
In order to offer a seamless and transparent service to customers, retailers need to able to account for every action along the chain, and should have the capability and competency to communicate this information to customers; as keeping them informed of these actions improves reliability, trust, and later down the line, market insight.
Due to the constant availability of an online medium, the 24/7 consumer expects an equally 24/7 service, so ensuring the fulfilment process – from order to completion – is fast and seamless, reflecting a retailer’s competency and capability. Communication is necessary to ensure reliability, credibility and reputation. For example, if ‘delivery within 48 hours’ is guaranteed, this must be stuck to – and if it’s not consumers should be quickly notified otherwise and given a reason!
But why do customers need to know so much? As long as the order turns up within few weeks, shouldn’t that be enough?
Unfortunately not – if retailers want to improve. Consider the reasons people choose to shop online and what they want to know throughout the process of ordering to delivery. A considered communicative e-fulfilment strategy will encourage consumers to return, so it needs to be able to:
- Communicate stock information and its availability – and notify customers when sold-out stock is back. Customers want to know as much as possible about their potential purchases.
- Clearly outline promised despatch and delivery times – One of the main annoyances of online shopping is not receiving an order in time if guaranteed arrival times were promised.
- Communicate transactions– From notifying customers on what they’ve purchased, when, how much it was and if any promotions were applied, communicating the receipt of a successful transaction should be instant, simple, and clear.
- Notify despatch/delivery estimates – Customers want as much information as possible on when their order will be, or has been dispatched, and an exact an estimate as possible on delivery times and destinations. Order tracking too, is becoming a common and expected method of real time, 24/7 notification.
- Follow up to ensure product delivery and satisfaction – and successfully deal with returns.
Following these points, the path to a well managed, cohesive e-fulfilment strategy which integrates all aspects – from processing transactions, to accounting for stock in the warehouse, packaging, shipping and delivery– and also communicates the vital real time stats to the consumer is not easy. Get it wrong and a difficult customer experience can damage business and reputation irreparably. But get it right and those customers will return again and again for guaranteed quality fulfilment – informed from click to delivery.
Kirsty is a freelance writer and has supplied this article for 2touch, a company which specialises in e-fulfilment and order fulfilment services.