Customer expectations are constantly increasing and their expectations to have their orders delivered in full and on time and for a seamless shopping experience are higher than ever.
Retailers then must be able to support a streamlined fulfilment process, which is a simple aim but usually complex to achieve.
When it comes to delivery of their purchases; multiple delivery options, speedy delivery, timely order notifications and order accuracy are all important parts of a customer’s online purchasing journey.
With many online retailers scaling significantly over the last 24 months, pain points in the order fulfilment process have become more and more apparent.
Most retailers are looking at ways to improve, either with existing providers or new solutions in the market.
Factors retailers should consider are:
- How to improve fulfilment efficiency and accuracy
- Ways to reduce fulfilment and shipping cost
- Utilisation of store stock and staff
- Ensuring ease of use, including training new staff
- Connecting to third party providers to enhance the overall service
Identifying areas of pain or where you are not meeting customer’s demands can help pin point where you can make incremental improvements in your fulfilment offering.
Let’s go into a few of these areas a bit further.
When you have more than one fulfilment location and especially when some of them are retail stores, the distribution of orders between the locations can make all the difference to the time the customer receives the order in or the chance of the order being received in full.
Leveraging a store network can lead to faster dispatch and delivery times and cost savings from closer proximity to the customer.
Pull based routing logic reduces administration of order flow and provides greater accuracy of stock availability at the time of pick.
Orders that cannot be completed in full are promptly split and redistributed to another location for picking without manual intervention.
Having the ability to pick all orders in one pick saves time and allows the same items to be picked for multiple orders.
Printing paper picklists is common practice for many retailers, but “digital picking” using a handheld device has many benefits such as:
- Products are easy to identify and validate
- Greater pick accuracy and less mis-picks
- Reduced stock write off’s
- Reduced manual processes
- Reduced printing and paper use
Ultimately improving not only the speed to customer, but also increasing the likelihood of receiving the order in full with the correct items.
Increasing order volumes have put traditional courier processes under pressure of late.
Courier tickets, manual CSV uploads and transferring data between systems are replaced by shipping integrations to automate the delivery process.
Dispatch automation not only saves a huge amount of time, but reduces human error.
Automatically sending emails and SMS notifications keeps customer’s informed at every step of the delivery journey.
Front end address validation is also common practice to ensure that address information is valid and minimise the chance of delay or in the worst case, redirection back to the seller.
Click-and-collect is a popular option for retailers with a store network, giving customers more delivery options, along with driving in-store sales and multi-channel engagement.
Visibility of the order is important and customer’s want to be kept up to date with the status of their order until it is safe in their hands.
This includes notifications such as:
- Order confirmation clearly stating the delivery method as Click and Collect
- Order delay such as items coming from a location different to their selected pick up store
- Order ready for collection
- Order pickup reminder
- Order collection confirmation
With a growing demand for click-and-collect some retailers have struggled to hold on to the orders that are not being picked up on time.
This may require further reminders, a phone call or even providing the option to deliver to the customer free of charge.
Store design even factors in signage and collection points closer to the front of the store to make order collection a breeze for customers.
Following up with customers post purchase for a review or rating can help determine where you are delighting customers and where there is room for improvement.
Another rich source of information is customer service and sales staff as they tend to be the one’s at the forefront of the customer experience.
How many of your customers great expectations are you fulfilling?
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